sofia coppola says paramount studios was 'afraid' to release 'the virgin suicides'

The director shares fresh details, in light of the film receiving a new special-edition DVD release by the Criterion Collection.

by André-Naquian Wheeler
24 April 2018, 6:30pm

Sofia Coppola is arguably one of the greatest directors of our time. She has disrupted Hollywood by being one of just a (tragically) few critically acclaimed female directors, becoming known for her radically soft aesthetic. However, Sofia’s unique approach to girlhood was not always understood, and at first it scared studio executives. Sofia recently revealed She says her 1999 directorial debut The Virgin Suicides received a small-scale, lackluster release because Paramount Studios “didn’t really know what to do with it.” The Kristen Dunst-led film depicted five sisters who take their own lives in a tragic suicide pact, leaving only questions in their wake. “They were afraid that girls were going to commit suicide if they saw it!” Sofia shared. “It had a really small release… we made it for very little, so they didn’t have to do much to make it.”

Almost twenty years later and The Virgin Suicides is finally getting the proper attention it deserves. The esteemed Criterion Collection has inducted the coming of age classic into its canon and released a special edition DVD of the film, including a BTS film directed by Sofia’s mother and 4K digital restoration. The film’s induction is a big win for female directors. There are hundreds of classics in the Criterion Collection — including films like P.T. Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love and David Lynch’s Eraserhead— but only 42 are directed by women. Other female-directed films includes Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture and Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog. “I hope anyone has a DVD player to watch it,” Sofia joked to Entertainment Weekly. “I’m not sure if anyone has DVD players anymore, but I’m glad we got to make it!”

Sofia also shared new details about her work on The Virgin Suicides. The adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ 1993 novel was almost made by a male director. “I heard he wasn’t doing it, so I started working on my own script as an exercise in how to adapt a book,” Sofia says. “... I heard [the other director] was doing it in a really dark way, and I wanted it to have a lighter touch, which is how I pictured it when I read the book… somehow they gave me a chance!” We couldn’t possibly imagine the film directed by anyone else.

Sofia Coppola
the virgin suicides