Richard Gere‘s first starring role since his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Arbitrage will be as a hedonistic philanthropist who ingratiates himself into the lives of a newlywed couple in order to re-create the life he once had. Andrew Renzi wrote and will direct Franny, which he developed through the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Production starts next month, and QED will launch international sales at Toronto. The film is being produced by Treehouse Pictures, which also did 2012′s Arbitrage; that film became a VOD sensation — grossing a whopping $12 million in VOD as part of a $52 million total worldwide gross, and making that release strategy no longer feel like a consolation prize. Thomas B. Fore, Jason Michael Berman and Jay Schuminsky are producing Franny, with Shelley Browning, Michael Diamond, Ruth Mutch and John Friedberg exec producing. Renzi’s credits include the shorts Karaoke! and The Fort, both of which premiered at Sundance. Gere is repped by WME and attorney Barry Hirsch. Renzi is with CAA, Washington Square Arts and attorney Linda Lichter.
Mike Fleming On 2013 Sundance Forecast: Small Deals Galore, And Greater Chances For Filmmakers To Have Their Work Viewed
As the Sundance Film Festival marketplace gets underway this morning in frigid Park City, here’s the forecast from buyers and sellers: strong accumulation of deals, low minimum guarantees, and potentially an avalanche of multi-platform sales. There is much to be excited about here, even if buyers say they won’t let the thin air get to them and nudge them to spend drunkenly.
Here’s what’s encouraging:
* New buyers led by indie stalwarts like Bob Berney and Daniel Battsek, joining companies like A24 and LD that were new last year and come back hungrier. Add them to the perennial players who all have holes in their release schedules this year and especially 2014. That includes The Weinstein Company, whose Sundance appetite often dictates whether a festival sales market will be boring or dazzling. “We are looking for a film or two for all three of our divisions, TWC, Dimension and Radius,” said TWC COO David Glasser. “We’ve come to buy, if the right product presents itself.”
* Spectacular success stories from last Sundance: Beasts Of The Southern Wild was a home run in the traditional theatrical release space; Arbitrage was so successful as a multi-platform release that it has made that release strategy no longer feel like a consolation prize.
Largely unheralded as the 2012 fest opened with no stars and a first time director and a $1.8 million budget, Beasts is the breakout success that Sundance filmmakers dream of, grossing north of $11 million and Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Arbitrage is that $12 million-budget film with seasoned but not hot actors, the kind of film that once fell into that no-man’s land between theatrical distribution and straight to video. Released simultaneously on VOD and in theaters, Arbitrage grossed $8 million theatrical and a whopping $12 million on VOD. Once all the receipts are counted, Arbitrage should get close to $50 million worldwide in its first revenue cycle, its writer-director Nicholas Jarecki told me.
Related: Sundance: Five Directors To Watch
These positive factors collide with the very thing that makes Sundance a singularly special festival: the films here rarely fit anyone’s definition of mainstream, and the filmmakers are a defiant bunch, tackling dark, squishy subjects and caring far more for art than commerce (give them time).
So while you have up-and-coming star Joseph Gordon-Levitt making his directing debut in a film he stars in with Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore, Don Jon’s Addiction casts him as a porn addict, torn between two women; Like Crazy‘s Drake Doremus is back with Breathe In, with Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan and Felicity Jones, in a story about a teacher falling for one of his young students; Lovelace has Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard in a true story about a woman forced by her manipulative boyfriend to degrade herself and become the biggest porno film star in the world. And there’s The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, with Shia LaBeouf so smitten with a woman that he comes back for more and more when her violent ex-boyfriend regularly pulverizes the romantic rival.
Thee is also the sobering reality that only a handful of Sundance films in the past five years have been breakout hits that exceeded $10 million in domestic grosses. That means one, maybe two per festival will justify the 7-figure marketing spends distributors will gamble on theatrical releases.
Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.
Director Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage tells the story of a charismatic businessman whose shady deals finally start getting the better of him. Richard Gere plays the smooth, successful commodities broker, and he’s earned some of his best reviews in years. Gere recently spoke with AwardsLine about his character, shooting in New York City, and working with a first-time director.
AwardsLine: Do you still look for the same things in scripts that you did when you first started acting?
Richard Gere: To be honest with you, I can’t remember that I was ever looking for anything. I was waiting for something to touch me. It’s like, I’ll be open to it, and see if it moves me. There has to be a “falling in love” moment. At the same time, you can’t know what the voyage is going to be. There has to be something that beckons that voyage and process. And I don’t know what that is. Things come out of nowhere, and you start evaluating the director, the cast, and all those other things going into it.
Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
It’s not every weekend that a specialty film can claim a record, but The Master opened with an incredible $145,949 per-theater average, the best limited release ever for a live-action film, topping another record-breaker from earlier this year, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which bowed with with an average of $130,749 at four locations. The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous film, There Will Be Blood averaged $95,370 when it opened back in 2007 in two theaters.
“We’re thrilled with the numbers. It set the screen record and all the credit in the world goes to Paul Thomas Anderson with his guerrilla marketing strategy combined with moving the [release date] to this weekend,” said said TWC Head of Distribution Erik Lomis. “I’m expecting my phone to ring off the hook from exhibitors tomorrow.” The Weinstein Company had initially set an October rollout of The Master which picked up best director and actor awards at the recent Venice Film Festival where it was reportedly also the be jury’s pick for the top prize, the Golden Lion, until fest officials enforced a rule that limits the number of big awards per film.
SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: It was a revived box office at the start of the domestic weekend with respectable grosses for both opening but non-original pics. That’s a relief for Hollywood after weeks of lackluster threatrical sales and the lowest-grossing weekend in at least four years. But total moviegoing this weekend is only $86M, or -15% from last year when The Lion King in 3D made $30.1M. Then again, it had not been available on home entertainment since 1994 and was a ‘Disney Vault’ item much in demand in 3D. In contrast, Disney/Pixar’s 3D version of its 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo (2,904 theaters) took in only $17.5M for the weekend despite the lack of fresh family fare in the cineplex. It also made $5.1M from 7 territories representing 22% of the international market. Which brings its global cume from all releases to $890.2M.
Sony/Screen Gems/Constantin Films’ 3D Resident Evil: Retribution (3,012 theaters) is the 5th installment in the sexy sci-fi/horror franchise and was an easy #1 against the clownfish. It opened with $8.8M Friday helped by $665K from midnight screenings. It topped out at $21.1M for the domestic weekend, which is less than the franchise’s 4th installment. No matter because it makes its real moolah overseas. Indeed, Resident Evil: Retribution grossed a big $50M overseas for a total $71.1M worldwide in just its first few days of release. That beats the last one overseas by about 28%. “This could be the biggest one yet,” a Sony exec gushed to me. Exit polls showed that 64% of the audience was male and 45% under age 25. About 48% experienced the film in 3D, 34% saw it in 2D, 14% viewed it in IMAX, and another 4% viewed it in other PLF theaters.
Frankly, the blogosphere has not always been kind to this series or the writing/directing/producing team of Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt (Impact Pictures). But I can’t argue with RE‘s amazing success. To give you an idea, the previous 4 films have an aggregate worldwide gross of $675M. The last film made $296M. If this 5th film could get to $325M worldwide, then the franchise hits $1B in worldwide box office. And I haven’t even mentioned the big DVD numbers. All on an aggregate budget of a mere $250M. How many filmmakers have created that return on investment? Also, Anderson has now shot his last 3 films in 3D, using the Vince Pace rigs, and is one of the few Hollywood directors comfortable with it. As a major player I respect emailed me this weekend, “Paul should get his due. He’s one of the most under-appreciated directors out there.”
And fresh from the Venice and Toronto International Film Festival circuit, The Weinstein Company’s much ballyhooed anti-Scientology movie The Master began its platform run and Oscar campaign by breaking art house records. Director Paul Thomas Anderson and talents Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman got off to a great start in limited release in 5 art houses (3 in NY and 2 in LA) grossing $729,745. Weinstein picked up the film from Annapurna for worldwide distribution. The indie studio was hoping to beat the art house record of $130K per screen set by Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom this year – and did just that with $145K.
Also of note, the same distribution company Rocky Mountain Pictures that released the hit political documentary 2016: Obama’s America on Friday opened Last Ounce of Courage. Both pics were in the Top 10 on Friday but fell out by Sunday. The newest pic aimed at “freedom-loving faith-based” audiences should have received a slow rollout. Instead, it debuted in 1,407 theaters with a marketing push including TV buys. Once again, this kind of movie produces strong pre-sales then grosses dwindle. It opened with a $1.7 weekend. Not sure if this pic has legs.
Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Roadside Attractions’ and Lionsgate’s Arbitrage for the biggest U.S. opening ever for a film debuting in both movie theaters and On Demand — and by a wide margin. Because it made $2M this weekend on only 197 screens for a per screen average of $10.5K. The Richard Gere starrer written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki had Roadside boss Howard Cohen kvelling to me. Amd the film also is #2 on iTunes overall and #1 in both Drama and Thriller categories.
A fantastic weekend for the indies… Don’t miss Deadline’s specialty box office report later today.
Here’s the Top Ten movies based on weekend estimates:
1. Resident Evil 5 (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [3,012 Runs]
Friday $8.4M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $21.1M
2. Finding Nemo (Pixar/Disney) NEW [2,904 Runs]
Friday $5.0M, Saturday $7.0M, Weekend $17.5M
‘The Master’, ‘Arbitrage’, ‘Francine’, ‘Liberal Arts’, ‘Step Up To The Plate’: Specialty Box Office Preview
Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
After making a splash in both Toronto and Venice (where it picked up awards, but not without controversy), The Weinstein Company’s The Master takes to screens amidst festival Oscar buzz …
Leading distributor VVS Films, announced today that they have acquired all Canadian rights to Nicholas Jarecki’s ARBITRAGE, starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parke, and Laetitia Casta.
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a clip from Arbitrage, the feature-directing debut of writer Nicholas Jarecki. Richard Gere plays a hedge fund trader desperate to unload his company before his fraud is found out. An unexpected misstep forces him to turn to a figure from his past played by Nate Parker (who is …
Al Pacino, Eva Green and Susan Sarandon are attached to star in Arbitrage, a drama written and to be directed by Nicholas Jarecki in New York early next year. Pacino is aboard to play a hedge-fund magnate who struggles to complete the sale of his trading business to a big …