The 79-year-old was Oscar-nominated for his role as wise lifer Red in the 1994 prison drama but, despite rave reviews from critics at the time, it disappointed at the box office, making just $18 million and falling far behind the successes of that year’s smashes Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction. The blame, Freeman believes, lies with its “terrible title”.
“The original title came from Stephen King’s book, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” he told chat show host Seth Meyers earlier this week. “Now, don’t choose Shawshank Redemption when you’ve got Rita Hayworth!
“I complained but they said ‘It won’t fit on the marquee’. I said, ‘So what? Just put Rita Hayworth...’ but they chose not to so it took a while to catch on.”
The Shawshank Redemption is the highest-rated movie on IMDB with an average star count of 9.3, closely followed by The Godfather.
King sold the film rights to his 96-page novella to then unknown director Frank Darabont for just $5,651. Myth has it that he never cashed the cheque, instead framing it and sending it back to Darabont years later with a note reading: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
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