Originally scheduled for release in 2007, but Writer and Director Kenneth Lonergan spent four more years struggling with Fox Searchlight Pictures over the final cut, resulting in several lawsuits.
When Fox Searchlight and Gary Gilbert refused to pay anymore for a film that seemed like it would never be released during the post-production process, Kenneth Lonergan turned to childhood friend Matthew Broderick, who lent him some money to continue working on his project.
Some reports claim that the theatrical cut of the film, is the version edited by Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, not Kenneth Lonergan. But, in a 2012 IndieWire interview, Lonergan refers to both the theatrical cut and the extended cut released on home video as his own.
Despite Kenneth Lonergan's long and troubled editing process, Fox Searchlight Pictures was not willing to fire a Director with final cut privilege, and risk damaging their reputation among other filmmakers.
The film debuted in the UK on just one screen, the Odeon Panton Street in London, where it earned nearly five thousand pounds in its opening weekend. This meant it had the highest screen average of any film in release at the time.
There is no character called Margaret in the film. Instead, the title refers to a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that is read aloud in Lisa Cohen's (Anna Paquin's) class.
Martin Scorsese, despite being busy with Hugo (2011) and some other projects, agreed to edit the film for free.
Kenneth Lonergan was contractually obligated to deliver a cut of one hundred fifty minutes, but his preferred version ran close to three hours. Martin Scorsese (who had previously deemed Lonergan's cut a "masterpiece") and his longtime Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, were drafted to create an alternate edit. Their cut was similar to Lonergan's, and ran one hundred sixty minutes.
In early 2009, the movie was deemed "unreleasable", due to different lawsuits concerning Kenneth Lonergan's failure to complete the movie during editing.
The lengthy editing process of the movie sparked two lawsuits. Fox Searchlight Pictures sued financier Gary Gilbert, because he failed to pay the studio half of the film's production costs. Gilbert responded, by suing Searchlight and Kenneth Lonergan, because he felt that they refused Gilbert's help to finish the movie (a process which required Producers, Directors, and Editors, like Scott Rudin, Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Sydney Pollack).
Kenneth Lonergan's original script suggested a three-hour film, but he agreed to produce a cut no longer than one hundred fifty minutes, when signing with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Gary Gilbert.
Martin Scorsese's edit was a little longer than Kenneth Lonergan's. Fox Searchlight Pictures and Lonergan were prepared to release it under a "presented by Martin Scorsese" banner, and submit it to the 2011 Toronto film festival, but Lonergan claims Gary Gilbert refused to sign off on it. Gilbert denies this.
Gary Gilbert was initially tolerant of the extended editing process, because he had faith in Kenneth Lonergan, and paid out of his own pocket for additional time in the editing suite. However, Producer Scott Rudin would describe Gilbert's scrutiny and excessive involvement in the editing process as "toxic".
In fall 2007, Gary Gilbert hired Dylan Tichenor to help create another edit of the film. He and Tichenor created a two-hour cut, dubbed the "Peggy cut" (after Gilbert's production company), with which Kenneth Lonergan was unsatisfied. Lonergan finished his own two-and-a-half-hour cut over half a year later, in summer 2008. Tichenor was actually called in by Scott Rudin; while he spoke with Gilbert, Rudin and Lonergan during his work on the film, there was no input from any of them regarding the cut he eventually delivered, un-finished. Tichenor never called that cut the "Peggy cut".
Kenneth Lonergan admitted that he was unsure which of the four versions of the film was the best.
J. Smith-Cameron is Kenneth Lonergan's wife. They play separated spouses in the film.