There was a helping of good news for the French box office on Wednesday when local comedy Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table! (Me, Myself And Mum) sold 69,342 tickets to become the strongest debut of the week. It also had the fifth best opening (79,636 admissions including previews) of any French film in 2013. The French box office has had a rough year of it so far: Overall admissions are down 5.5% and French market share has dropped from 42.9% to 32.3%, according to the latest figures from local watchdog the CNC. It looks likely that when January 1st rolls around, there will be only one French film (comedy Les Profs) amongst the top 10 of the past 12 months. That’s a rare occurrence indeed after 2012 closed with three French titles in the top 10 and 2011 boasted not only the No. 1 and No. 2 overall films – The Intouchables and Rien A Déclarer – but also the Oscar-winning The Artist. This year, Intouchables studio Gaumont has Les Garçons, giving it something to crow about after the disappointment of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet. Les Garçons is a virtual one-man show that is written and directed by Guillaume Gallienne in his helming debut. He also plays the two lead roles. It debuted in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight this year where it was a prize winner. Gallienne, who hails from the venerable Comédie Française, adapted the film from his own stage show. In the autobiographical coming-of-age comedy, he plays himself – and his own mother, a woman for whom his love is boundless and who has always treated him as the daughter she never had. (Diane Kruger has a cameo.) Les Garçons was released on 406 screens on Wednesday and faced competition from Captain Phillips (26,163 tickets on 500 screens) and Disney’s Frozen, which sold an impressive 6,009 tickets on just one screen. All will face off with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire when it bows on November 27th.
Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats was the opening night film of the Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2009. A hot title at the time, it was plagued with political controversy when Ghobadi’s …
India Oscar Controversy: Film Body Demands Apology From ‘Lunchbox’ Helmer As Questions Linger Over ‘Good Road’ Pick
Ever since it debuted in Cannes and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox was largely considered the favorite to be submitted by India as the Foreign Language Oscar entry. But last week, the selection committee chose Gyan Correa’s The Good Road. In the intervening days, The Lunchbox filmmakers, local and international press and other pundits have decried the choice. The committee in turn demanded an apology from Lunchbox helmer Batra for “unsavoury comments” that crossed a boundary, it said in a long letter. Batra produced his mea culpas today, but also urged a rethink of the way films are chosen. Batra wrote, “I sincerely hope that the annual reactions to our Academy selections from the national press, and this year from even the international press, prompt a new policy for the selection. Sir, please use your good offices to give us a transparent, objective process with a public and not a secret jury. It is a direct and humble request, not a criticism.”
Egypt Submits ‘Winter Of Discontent’ To Foreign Language Oscar Race; Iran Picks ‘The Past’ Amid Criticism
UPDATED: Egypt’s Winter Of Discontent has been selected by the Filmmakers Syndicate to compete for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar. Ibrahim El-Batout’s film screened in the Venice Horizons section in 2012 as well as at the …
EXCLUSIVE: The Emmys aren’t even over yet, but the race to be the first movie awards DVD screener of 2013 to land in Oscar voters’ mailboxes is over. And the winner is…..Mud. The Roadside Attractions (with Lionsgate) late April release starring Matthew McConaughey has been sent to all Academy members with some reporting they received it yesterday. The Blu-Ray/DVD came out in early August and at that time Roadside sent it to some bloggers who confused the issue by saying it was then the first Oscar screener to be sent. Of course Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rules are very clear in this regard and commercial Blu Ray/DVDs cannot be sent to Academy members as part of a campaign. It must be special, generally very plain, packaging without review quotes etc. That is what Academy members are receiving this weekend.
The Jeff Nichols-directed movie is one of the top independent releases of 2013 earning over $21 million at the box office. In fact until Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine surpassed it recently, it was the number one indie. Roadside picked up the film in August 2012 but held it for a Spring launch rather than rushing it out to compete in last year’s Oscar race. The distributor hopes Oscar voters will remember the film, which played in the 2012 Cannes Official Competition, and by getting the screener out first knows it is already on top of the pile of one for voters who have yet to see it. Being first is a mixed bag as far as ultimate results go. Last year The Weinstein Company sent its French import The Intouchables out as the first screener in Mid-October but it failed to land any nominations. In 2011 Summit won the screener race with an early September mailing of A Better Life and was rewarded for its efforts with a Best Actor nod for Demian Bichir, considered a long shot at the time (Roadside virtually tied for first out that year too with The Music Never Stopped, but it came up empty).
Yesterday’s announcement that Gilles Bourdos’ period drama Renoir would be France’s entry for the Foreign-Language Oscar race was a bit of a head-scratcher. Once it became clear a few months ago that Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color (aka Adèle: Chapters 1&2) would not be eligible, other possible titles were floated including previous Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi’s The Past. But Renoir was not really on the radar — not the least because it had debuted in a Cannes sidebar in 2012. Academy Foreign Language rules stipulate that a film must be released domestically between October 1st and September 30th and Renoir was a fit because it went out in January this year in France. Blue, however, is not releasing until October 9th, meaning it misses the cut-off. Many have wondered why Wild Bunch, which is distributing Blue in France, would not change the October 9th date to qualify. Company co-founder Vincent Maraval tells me today, “There was never any question for us to modify in any way our release strategy to legitimize the stupidity of the Oscar rules. Should we risk our strategy for France for a Foreign Language Film Oscar which doesn’t add anything to a Palme d’Or?” He contends that the Foreign Language Oscar “no longer means anything for a film that was crowned in Cannes” and says the rules are “unique, specific and make no sense. At the same time, no one cares about this category. We’re aiming for (Blue) in all categories, the only ones that count.”
Of Renoir, which Wild Bunch sold internationally, Maraval says it’s “a perfect film for the Academy: classic, esthetic and cultural in the same vein as (1994 Foreign Language Oscar winner) Belle Epoque or (1991 winner) Mediterraneo. It got rave reviews from U.S. critics and it’s the highest-grossing French film in the U.S. this year with $2.2M. Objectively, it’s the most legitimate candidate.”
When it comes to this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race, it seems Sundance Selects just can’t catch a break. Coming out of Cannes, the company headed by Jonathan Sehring — who also runs IFC — looked like it easily could have two of the five nominees in the category, especially after its acquisitions took two of the top three prizes at Cannes. The French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the coveted Palme d’Or (usually a key factor in considering a film for Oscar submission), while the Jury Prize (essentially third place) went to Japan’s moving and extremely well-received Like Father, Like Son, which so infatuated Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg that his DreamWorks is negotiating for an English-language remake.
It seemed at the time that both would be a cinch as their respective countries’ entry in the race, and Sundance Selects was riding high. But as Deadline reported in July, a quirky Academy rule that requires a foreign entry to have opened by September 30 in its country of origin KO’d Warmest Color’s chances, despite Sehring’s best efforts to turn it around. Unfortunately Wild Bunch, the film’s French distributor, was dead set on releasing it October 9, and a qualifying run was ruled out. Now, in what for me is an even more stunning setback, the seven-member Japan Movie Producers Association ignored its country’s high-profile Cannes winner and instead chose a more obscure film, The Great Passage (Fune O Amu) from 30-year-old director Yuya Ishii, the youngest ever to represent Japan in the Oscar contest. That film was released in April — doing nice, if unremarkable, business at the box office. Like Father, Like Son is scheduled for a September 28 release in Japan, a date presumably chosen to make it eligible for the Oscar race. But it’s not to be.
As per custom, organizers of the Telluride Film Festival held their schedule back and announced the lineup for its 40th edition this morning — just as a planeload of stars, filmmakers, journalists, executives, publicists and many Academy members were …
EXCLUSIVE: When controversial French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, it was expected to be a major player in the upcoming Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film. Now it’s ineligible to compete and not even impassioned pleas from Sundance Selects, its American distributor, have done the trick. This unexpected development as first reported on Deadline is due to its October 9th French opening. Local distributor Wild Bunch will not change the date in order to comply with an arcane Academy rule that says each film must have opened in the country of origin by the end of September. Now Sundance Selects/IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring who picked up the U.S. rights to Blue in Cannes is very disappointed that this decision appears irreversible. “I talked to them about it and said it was a missed opportunity if you don’t qualify it. So they actually were going to do a qualification run in the town where it was shot in Northern France,” Sehring tells me. “But ultimately the French governing body said no. It had to be a wide release in order for it to qualify and so [Wild Bunch] called and said ‘We don’t want to move off our date. We have a great date.’ It’s unfortunate.”
Although it won’t help Blue this year, Sehring hopes the Academy will deep-six the September 30th eligibility date and change it in the future to be more reflective of the realities of the international film industry. “It’s a global business right now and [it's not good] to hold the Foreign Language titles to a September 30th date. This present Academy administration has been really great about re-visiting things that don’t really make sense and I’m just hoping that will happen.” However as a distributor he does fully understand the Wild Bunch decision and its box office potential in France. “What could be better than that for them? If the French want to choose it as next year’s title I can always hope there, but unfortunately it didn’t work out in terms of qualification,” he said.