Remember that Liam Neeson vehicle we talked about in January called “The Grey”? The basic plot involves a a crew of oil-rig roughnecks left stranded after a plane crash in the frozen Alaskan tundra. That’s not the worst part though – apparently, they’re also being hunted by a pack of territorial rogue wolves. Here’s how director Joe Carnahan, who wrote the screenplay, explained this angle:
“The wolves have a territorial range of 300 miles, and they will run you out if you cross that,” says Carnahan. “If you’re within 30 miles of their den as is the case here, they will try to kill you. It’s simple arithmetic, but it creates an opportunity for one of those man vs. nature movies I love like Deliverance and Touching The Void.”
As mentioned earlier, if that sounds like bullshit, it’s because it is. While there have been plenty of documented wolf attacks, nobody has ever been reported killed by a wild, healthy one in North America. Sure, it may only be a matter of time (especially as we continue to encroach on habitats) that someone loses a life, but it’s not like there are killer wolves out there like Africanized bees waiting to pounce on you should you cross within 30 miles of their den or 300 mile territory. Commenter Art Greewalt communicated as much saying,
“I’ve lived in Alaska over 40 years now and have encountered wolves in the wild well within a 100 yards of their den, if not closer,” he said. “All they did was sit and watch as I dressed out a caribou I had taken, knowing full well they would have access to the remains when I left. I was not and did not feel in any way threatened by their presence.”
“I don’t know where Carnahan got his information but I suspect, at best, it was off the back of a cereal box or maybe from some NRA publication,” he added. “It is the biggest load of manure I have ever read about wolves, especially when you consider most villages in the Bush are well within a few miles of wolf dens.”
So we’ve established that the film isn’t based on anything that could happen in real life – but will audiences see it that way? Distributor Open Road apparently is eager to find out and, according to Deadline, love what little they’ve viewed of the film.
“Open Road is in the final stages of acquiring U.S. rights to Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, and it’s shaping up to be a whopper of a deal,” said Deadline’s Mike Fleming. “The numbers I’m hearing are in the $8 million minimum guarantee range, with a $25 million P&A commitment and a gross corridor built in.” Fleming also added that the deal includes a release on as many as 4,000 screens – and that buyers think Liam Neeson’s performance may carry Oscar-buzz.
Whatever. I love nature/action flicks as much as the next guy, but with wolves losing federal protection in several states this year, the timing sucks. There should be public support for the protection of these great animals, not fear that taking a hike will lead to imminent doom. Hopefully Carnahan exaggerates the threat to a point where it’s obvious this is pure fiction. Otherwise, there’s going to be some serious damage control for organizations working hard to change public perception of the wolf.