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The Virgin Suicides - Stills
The Virgin Suicides - Stills.Courtesy of Film Affinity.

Paramount feared The Virgin Suicides would encourage teen suicide

Sofia Coppola explains why her 90s coming-of-age film had a low key release

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides is now a highly-regarded cult classic. Despite its dreamlike aesthetic and its unique look at a leafy Midwestern suburb through the eyes of the teenagers who live there – Coppola recently revealed that initially, Paramount “didn’t really know what to do with it”.

“It didn’t have much of a release,” Coppola said to Entertainment Weekly, explaining that distributors feared it glamorised mental health issues. “They were afraid that girls were going to commit suicide if they saw it! It had a really small release. We made it for very little, so they didn’t have to do much to make it.”

Consequently, when it was released the film did not initially garner a large audience. It grossed $10 million worldwide so it just about made its $9 million budget back. Even though she was slightly disappointed the film was not a box-office-hit, Coppola is now elated that it has had “a second life, and it makes me glad that girls of other generations connect to it and find something in it, it didn’t have much of a life at the time it came out.”

“It made me happy when, about 10 years ago, people started telling me that their teenage daughters loved the movie,” Coppola said. “I was like, they weren’t even born then! How do they even know about it?”

On April 24th, Criterion Collection will release the Academy Award-winning The Virgin Suicides, making history as her first film to join the library.