When The Boy Next Door hit theaters in January, it gave audiences a lot to talk about (that sex scene, a shiver-inducing eye wound, and the line, "I love your mother's cookies"). But the most talked and tweeted about moment actually involved a first edition of Homer's The Iliad.
In the film, which is available April 28 on Blu-ray and DVD, Noah (Ryan Guzman) begins seducing high school English teacher Claire (Jennifer Lopez) by gifting her with a beautifully bound first edition of Homer's tale, which he claims to have found at a garage sale.
Viewers griped that even if the book was centuries old, it would have cost a fortune. And one of the people complaining was the film's screenwriter, Barbara Curry, who told Fusion that she was not responsible for the scene in question. "Much of my original script was rewritten by the producers and the director," she said. "As for the first edition Iliad reference in the movie, that was not something I wrote in my original script."
The Boy Next Door director Rob Cohen told BuzzFeed News he added the scene during normal script rewrites. "I wanted [Noah] to have a reason to come see [Claire] when [her family] went on the camping trip," he said during a recent phone interview. "He had to find a reason and my reasoning was he went to a first edition bookstore, bought her the first edition, and told her it was from a garage sale so she wouldn't be uncomfortable that he bought her an expensive gift. It gave them a chance to be together alone for the first time where if anything was going to happen, it could happen."
While the Iliad-based audience criticism irked Cohen a bit, he said, "That tells me they're watching and listening and thinking and they're engaged; even if they think we're idiots, I'm not an idiot. I'm a book collector and I know about first editions."
"You can have a first edition that was printed yesterday," Cohen added. "What happens is books are published in editions. Like you'll get the The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton. I own the first edition from 1653, but there have been over 1,000 first editions since. So an imprint will publish a new version and that book is the first edition of that version. The older the first edition, the more valuable. But it doesn't mean it was the original printing. It just means someone decided the book had relevance of commerciality and they printed it with new photos or a new dust jacket and that's known as a first edition."
"So I wasn't saying, 'Oh, it's a first edition of the original Homer,' because if you know anything about Homer you know it was an oral tradition," Cohen said. "It wasn't written down 'til later — so there is no such thing unless you are showing squirrels in Greek on parchment."