‘I Wish I Knew How To Quit You’: 15 Years Ago ‘Brokeback’ Came Out

Credit: Screengrab/River Road Entertainment/Focus Features

Brokeback Mountain, one of the most acclaimed LGBTQ movies of all time, was released 15 years ago today.

The Ang Lee directed film first made its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September of 2005 before opening up in domestic theaters three months later on December 9, 2005.

Brokeback was adapted from a 1997 short story of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Annie Proulx. The screenplay was then written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry

It centered on a forbidden love story between two cowboys named Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Their emotional journey has several ups and downs along the way as they struggled to be with one another while living totally separate & very heterosexual lifestyles.

The movie became a success with critics and fans alike. It took in over $178 million dollars at the box office and won a string of awards along the way. Lee secured the Best Director honor at the 2006 Academy Awards, becoming the first Asian to win. He would taste victory again in the same category seven years later for Life of Pi.

Ledger, Gyllenhaal & their costar Michelle Williams all scored Oscar nominations for their work that year however none left that night with a trophy. 

It was one of the last films that Ledger made prior to his death on January 22, 2008. He was posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Dark Night which his family accepted on his behalf. 

Brokeback made the top 10 of many year end lists of 2005 by several respected publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It also remains 87 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

Fellow director Lee Daniels revealed in a recent interview that he was the initial director for Brokeback. He also spoke on how it may not have been made at all due to all the problems in his way.

“I was going to be directing Brokeback Mountain,” he said earlier this year. “A long, long time ago. It was going to be my second movie after Monster’s Ball.” That film, which he produced, earned Halle Berry the Oscar for Best Actress. She remains the only woman of color to win that coveted honor. 

“It was a very expensive piece to keep and I simply couldn’t get the movie made,” he continued about Brokeback. “Nobody wanted to see the movie, nobody wanted to make the movie.”

Brokeback was later made by River Road Entertainment and distributed by Focus Features. It also found a new director in Ang Lee in the process. 

It was added to the National Film Registry in 2018 along with other classic flicks like Jurassic ParkBroadcast NewsOn The Town and Smoke Signals

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