Some crowds headed to see Sundance debut Austenlandthis weekend, opening in 4 theaters and grossing just over $42K. The film got TV ad treatment and hilariously even had its trailer show twice at NYC’s Chelsea Clearview before a showing of another SPC title,Blue Jasmine yesterday, much to the groans of the crowd. But with all that awareness the feature only managed a so-so opening weekend, besting fellow Sundancer Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which had a mellow debut in three theaters grossing $28,800. And another Sundance pic, Cutie And The Boxer, headed out to theaters grossing $21K for a $7K-plus PSA. But the weekend PSA bragging rights go to Cohen Media Group’s You Will Be My Son, which opened with $15,469 at the Paris Theatre in NYC. The weekend’s other newcomers, Inch’Allah, The Patience Stone andSpark: A Burning Man Story opened with fair results in limited releases. Read More »
Filmmaker David Lowery moved up the filmmaker food chain with his latest feature, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, opting to ditch a micro-budget plan for one that included stars and more resources. Still, the film is hardly a big budget production though the production team has created a latish summer release that IFC Films hopes will lure audiences hungry for story-driven drama. Women are the main audience target for Sony Classics’ two weekend releases, Austenland and The Patience Stone, titles it picked up out of Sundance and Toronto respectively after witnessing reaction by females audiences following their premieres. A SXSW Interactive participant discovered the allure of filmmaking and took on a documentary about the annual Burning Man event, deciding on a DIY-esque release strategy. And French filmmaker Gilles Legrand used his fascination of wine and the peculiarities of France’s inheritance laws into a father-son drama also set for limited roll out Friday.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Director-writer: David Lowery
Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine, Kennadie Smith
Distributor: IFC Films
Producer Jay Van Hoy of Parts and Labor served as a shorts juror at the SXSW Film Festival in 2011, the same year filmmaker David Lowery’s short Pioneer, took home the Narrative Short prize. Perhaps even better, Van Hoy got to know the film’s producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston as well as Lowery. Cut forward to the Sundance Producers Lab, where Van Hoy served as an adviser where Halbrooks and Johnston were attending with a project that would become Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. “Even at SXSW I told them if they need any help to let me know,” said Van Hoy. “We all clicked. The film was ambitious, even at a lower budget, but it’s a great script so we decided to come on board…It all came together pretty quickly considering independent film schedules.” “I had made [my previous film] St. Nick for $12K and had an inkling I could do Saints for something like $25K,” said Lowery. “But the advisers [at Sundance] told them that doing the micro-budget thing is a great plan B and you know you can do it, but why not spend a little bit of time formulating a plan A and see if you can make it just a little bit bigger.” Read More »
Keri Russell strays just a weensy bit from her badass Soviet spy character in FX’s The Americans for her latest film role. In the Sundance rom-com Austenland, she plays Jane, a single gal with a borderline-unhealthy Jane Austen obsession who’s looking for her very own Mr. Darcy. She books a pricey stay at the resort billed as “the world’s only immersive Austen experience,” but — having bought the lowest-level Austenland package — she is relegated to the servants’ quarters. Jane is determined, though: “An Austen heroine gets engaged by the end of the book,” she asserts. “That is what I am going to do.” J.J. Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Seymour also star in the pic directed by Jerusha Hess, who co-scripted with the source novel’s author Shannon Hale. Produced by (Twihard alert!) Stephenie Meyer, Gina Mingacci and Meghan Hibbett, the Sony Pictures Classics film opens August 16. The first trailer:
It’s titled “Unmentionables”. Sony Pictures Wide World Acquisitions picked up the movie earlier this week at Sundance. Sony Pictures Classics plans a summer release of the Jerusha Hess-directed film that stars Keri Russell as a Jane Austen fanatic who visits a theme park where the action in the clip takes place. Austenland is produced by The Twilight Saga‘s Stephenie Meyer.
UPDATE: Just got an update on Austenland. The deal is north of $4 million, midway between $4 million and $5 million, and Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the summer, and they will rely heavily on producer (and Twilight Saga author) Stephenie Meyer, Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale, along with star Keri Russell to promote it and make this a chick flick extravaganza.
EARLIER, BREAKING: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has closed on the Keri Russell-starrer Austenland. It’s a surprising outcome, and the deal numbers I’m hearing are north of $4 million for worldwide rights. Sony Pictures Classics will release in the U.S. The Jerusha Hess-directed film about a Jane Austen fanatic is produced by Twilight Saga‘s Stephenie Meyer. Read More »
The films The Way, Way Back played strongly at Eccles, and tonight is The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman. Sounds like another late night for buyers, sellers and the journos who stalk them. Negotiations continue onAustenland, but not with original first position suitors FilmDistrict and Exclusive Media. There was never an exclusive negotiation on this, but the sellers will make a different deal. There is also action on the Richard Linklater-directed Before Midnight, with Lionsgate sweet on it, among a bunch of other distributors, which is remarkable for the third leg of this classy trilogy, with no explosions to speak of.
Agencies CAA, WME and UTA held their parties last night, but forgive the dealmakers for being distracted. They worked late into the night trying to close deals. Deadline told you last night that FilmDistrict (with Exclusive Media) was zeroing in on Austenland, a deal that would have closed last night if not for the fact that producer and Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer and director Jerusha Hess are Mormon and they apparently don’t focus on business on the holy day (I’m envious). UPDATE: That deal isn’t going to make, and the sellers will close elsewhere, possibly with Fox Searchlight.
The Sundance acquisition logjam appears to be breaking. Deal-making is close on Austenland, and a deal just closed onThe Look Of Love, with offers starting to be made on several other films. Word is that FilmDistrict is in talks for Austenland, which stars Keri Russell as an obsessed Jane Austen fan who visits a theme park based on the famed author’s work and her search for romance. Pic’s repped by UTA, which tells me this hasn’t been decided yet.
At the same time, a deal is closing for IFC to acquire North American rights to the Michael Winterbottom-directed Steve Coogan-starrer The Look Of Love. Coogan plays Paul Raymond, who ran Soho’s notorious Raymond Revue Bar and Men Only magazine. UTA consulted for Studiocanal on the deal. Read More »
Best known as the author of The Twilight Saga novels, Stephenie Meyer has brought the first feature from her Fickle Fish Films to the Sundance Film Festival this year. Based on Shannon Hale’s novel of the same name, Austenland focuses an obsessed Jane Austen fan’s search for love and visit to a theme park based on the famous author. Selected for the U.S. Dramatic competition, the comedy stars Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour and Bret McKenzie and marks the directorial debut of Napoleon Dynamite co-writer Jerusha Hess.Austenland premiered at the Festival on January 18 with a sold out screening yesterday and four more screenings planned, all of which are sold out too. A producer on all The Twilight Saga movies as well as the upcoming The Host, Meyer sat down with Deadline at Sundance to talk about producing a film not based on a book she wrote, adaptations and an Austenland sequel.
Deadline: How did Austenlandcome together as Fickle Fish’s first feature? Stephenie Meyer: Austenland happened because years ago my good friend and author Shannon Hale sent me the manuscript for her book. I loved it obviously and I thought it read like a movie to me. You could see everything, it’s very visual. And I got halfway through and thought how much fun it would be to go and make it real. So I figured 10 years down the road, we’re going to go to England and film it ourselves. Which my partner Meghan Hibbett and I did but a little earlier than scheduled and a little more elaborately than we planned. I’ve always loved book adaptations. I don’t always love what comes out of it but I love the idea of it. Every time I read a book I’m casting it in my head. So producing for me started out as really cool hobby and Austenland was the perfect place to start. Read More »