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Sundance Institute Announces Directors & Screenwriter Fellows

EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford.  The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
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‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’s Quvenzhane Wallis To Play ‘Annie’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Sony Pictures and Overbrook Entertainment have found their title character for Annie. They’ve set Oscar nominated Beasts Of The Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis to play the role, in a film to be directed and produced by Will Gluck. Also producing are James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith producing through Overbrook, with Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith through Marcy Media. That was the role that Willow Smith was going to play, but she grew out of it during the film’s long period of development. The contemporized re-imagining of the Broadway musical will shoot later this year for holiday 2014 release. Gluck, the helmer who directed Easy A and Friends With Benefits for Sony-based Screen Gems, signed on last month. Gluck has been revising a screenplay written by Emma Thompson and rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna based on the musical and its book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin. That’s based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Wallis is up for Best Actress today–youngest ever in that category–for her cute as a button portrayal as Hushpuppy in Beasts Of The Southern Wild. She was six when she made that film and is now nine, but is even more adorable, if that is possible. She’s repped by ICM Partners. Here is the official word from Sony:

Overbrook Entertainment, Marcy Media,  director Will Gluck and Sony Pictures Entertainment have cast Academy Award®  nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, in the title  role of Annie, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia  Pictures, and Hannah Minghella, president of Production for the studio.

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Independent Spirit Awards Getting Ready For Their Close-Up

By | Thursday February 21, 2013 @ 3:26pm PST
Pete Hammond

The 28th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, being held Saturday afternoon as usual under a huge tent at Santa Monica beach, is always one of the most loose and laid-back award shows of the season. Coming as it does a day before the far more formal Oscars, it provides a chance for stars and filmmakers to relax and get together in a much more stress-free environment. And with independent film increasingly playing a much bigger part in Oscar nominations and wins over the years there is even a certain symmetry between the two shows.

Last year for instance The Artist won the top Picture prize, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and Director at both shows as did Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor in Beginners.  It wasn’t always the case.  In fact there was an infamous phrase that perfectly summed up the disparity between the Oscar weekend events: “Win on Saturday, lose on Sunday”.  That hasn’t been true for a while and this year the two shows share several nominees in common including Best Film contenders Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Foreign hopefuls Amour and War Witch, along with a handful of acting nominees including Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Hunt, Quvenzhane Wallis and Bradley Cooper. And it always draws an eclectic mix of presenters, nominees and industry players. One reason it has been so successful is that organizers keep the fun quotient … Read More »

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OSCARS: The Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Chris Terrio | Argo

Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 article in Wired magazine based on declassified documents about the remarkable clandestine Iran hostage-rescue caper.

Ben Affleck and Chris TerrioBut this hardly gave Terrio a blueprint for a screenplay that deftly blends Hollywood satire with a historical international crisis. Terrio says his biggest fear was that the Hollywood scenes of the Argo screenplay would slide the movie too far into show-business farce.

RELATED: OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

However, a passage in Mendez’s book gave him license to go there in one case. “In Tony’s book”, Terrio says, “there’s a passage in it where Tony’s describing being with (makeup artist) John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to … Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

Pete Hammond

As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 3

The last in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.

Django Unchained

What the Academy says:  5 nominations (Picture: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone; Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz; Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino; Cinematography: Robert Richardson; Sound Editing: Wylie Stateman)

What the public says: $147.5M domestic boxoffice; $111.5M international (as of Feb. 1)

What Pete Hammond says: Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti-western homage was a Christmas Day release and struggled just to meet its late-year release date. That means its five nominations including best picture are an impressive feat considering many members probably didn’t get a chance to see it because of the earlier voting schedule. It just shows the love for all things Tarantino, as this is the third film for which the director has seen a best picture nom. Although unlike Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino didn’t earn a best director nomination this year. Read More »

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OSCARS: Anything Goes In This Year’s Race

Pete Hammond

With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then Read More »

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Sundance: Screenwriters Lab Alumni ‘Ad Inexplorata’ Heading Into Production

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 5:34pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: Another script developed at the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab is being made into a movie. TideRock Media and Taggart Productions  said today that they’re taking Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s feature debut Ad Inexplorata into production this summer. The film, which Rosenberg will also direct, is about an American astronaut on a one-way mission to Mars. The project also received support from Creative Capital, San Francisco Film Society and the Indian Paintbrush Fellowship. Josh Penn, Matthew Parker, Jason Michael Berman and Thomas B. Fore will produce Ad Inexplorata. Penn and Parker were producers on Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which was one of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s breakout films and is now up for multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture. Parker also produced Mother Of George, which was at this year’s Festival. Berman and Fore produced LUV, which played during last year’s Sundance. Michael Nardelli will serve as executive producer.

Related: ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Back in Theaters Friday For Oscar Push
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Mike Fleming On 2013 Sundance Forecast: Small Deals Galore, And Greater Chances For Filmmakers To Have Their Work Viewed

Mike Fleming

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.

Related: Sundance: Five Actors & Actresses To Watch

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. Read More »

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‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Back In Theaters Friday For Oscar Push

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 5:11pm PST

In the wake of its four Oscar nominations last week, Fox Searchlight said today that Beasts Of The Southern Wild will be re-released in theaters beginning Friday. The film’s return engagement will hit a limited number of cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C, Dallas, and Seattle — as part of the specialty label’s now-humming awards campaign, which picked up steam last week with Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for star Quvenzhane Wallis and Best Director for Benh Zeitlin. The film was originally released theatrically June 27 after it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2012 in its world premiere there; that’s where Searchlight picked it up. Now audiences will get a refresher.

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OSCARS: ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Score

By | Tuesday December 4, 2012 @ 10:00pm PST

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.

Convincingly relating a child’s sense of wonder in a movie for grownups is never easy. But Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer managed it handily in the music for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which Zeitlin also directed and co-wrote.

Set in the wetlands of the deep South immediately before a major storm (presumably Hurricane Katrina), the film combines expected musical choices—country fiddle, accordion—with some unconventional ones—celesta and pop-music beats—to create a satisfying gumbo rich in character, mood, and atmosphere.

Related: OSCARS: Behind The Scenes On ‘Beasts’

“I think the world looks down on these places,” Zeitlin says of his film’s setting. “I wanted to make this film about why people stay, about how beautiful and how much freedom there is in this culture. I want audiences to understand that places like this have found freedom and joy, and the music takes you there.” Read More »

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OSCARS Interview: Quvenzhané Wallis

By | Friday November 23, 2012 @ 4:46pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.

Looking back at her audition for the lead role of Hushpuppy in Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis is able to put it all in perspective. “If you are a 5-year-old, you just go ahead and try something,” she observes. “You don’t think about it. You are just a little kid.” Of course, she’s older and wiser now. She’s 9.

Today, Wallis, pretty in pink sequins and skinny jeans, is offering this thoughtful career overview in the elegant lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Her mom, Qulyndreia Wallis, is seated on a nearby sofa, but young Wallis fields questions about her first acting role all by herself. Read More »

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OSCARS: Behind The Scenes On ‘Beasts’

By | Friday November 9, 2012 @ 11:40pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor
It’s not that independent filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, 30, and his team at Court 13 Productions had nothing to lose when they set out to produce Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zeitlin’s first feature film. But with a miniscule budget somewhere between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, they could afford to take a few more risks than a Hollywood producer hoping to turn a profit on a $200 million action film.
On the risky side: Casting two Louisiana locals with zero acting experience in the lead roles—one a 6-year-old—and dressing up a crew of little pot-bellied pigs to represent a herd of giant prehistoric Aurochs. These boar-like beasts bedevil the imagination of Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), an independent little girl in white rubber boots who defies nature to try to save her ailing father (portrayed by Dwight Henry, a baker and restaurateur in real life) and her bayou home during a raging Katrina-like storm. (“They are about the cutest thing in the world when you see them live,” Zeitlin says of the little porkers).  Read More »

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ICM Partners Signs ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Cutie Quvenzhane Wallis

By | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 1:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: ICM Partners has signed Quvenzhane Wallis, who captivated the Sundance and Cannes Film festivals earlier this year starring as Hushpuppy in the Benh Zeitlin-directed Beasts Of The Southern Wild. The film, which was acquired by Fox Searchlight, won the Caméra d’Or award at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Quvenzhané was selected from over 4,000 young ladies to make her film debut in the lead role. She is represented by attorney Jamie Feldman and Thruline Entertainment.

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‘The Queen Of Versailles’, ‘Hara-Kiri’, ‘Well Digger’s Daughter’, ’30 Beats’, ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ Debut: Specialty Box Office

Specialty Preview: ‘Queen Of Versailles,’ ‘Well-Digger’s Daughter’

Magnolia Pictures’ Sundance doc from lauren Greenfield, The Queen Of Versailles, opened by cashing in among the specialties, grossing $54K with a regal $18K average in 3 theaters over the weekend. has picked up a good amount of attention from morning TV and other shows. The documentary’s subjects — a mega-wealthy couple called “1-percenters” who live a life of reckless luxury but then face a day of reckoning — appear to be the film’s best marketers, perhaps inadvertently. It will expand into San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, San Diego, Atlanta, and Philadelphia next Friday, and then widen into another 10 to 15 markets on August 3rd. By the way, there’s an ongoing lawsuit over the film. Another opener, Tribeca Films’ Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai, was in a pair of locations and averaged $6,138. The company called it a “very solid” start for Takashi Miike’s release. At NYC’s IFC Center, the film grossed an estimated $10,272 for the weekend. Initially limited by opening on just a 60-seat screen, the film was quickly promoted to a larger 110-seat screen where it had multiple evening sell-outs. In LA’s Downtown Independent, it grossed $2,000 for the weekend, resulting in a overall per screen average of $6,138. Tribeca is set to bring the title to major markets including Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco over the next few weeks, with more dates to be added soon. Kino Lorber Films opened The Well Digger’s Daughter in two New York theaters and one in Seattle, averaging a milder $4,333. The distributor of Daniel Auteuil’s French-language update of Marcel Pagnol’s work was counter-programming Batman for older audiences and had a “solid debut”. Kino Lorber chief Richard Lorber caught wind of The Well-Digger’s Daughter after speaking with French sales outfit Pathé ahead of the American Film Market last year. Then Kino Lorber worked with French cultural institute Alliance Francaise to spread the word. It grossed $13,000 from New York’s Quad Cinema and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Theatre, as well as at Landmark’s Varsity in Seattle. It will quickly expand next Friday to LA, San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia, with many more markets to follow in August and September. Shut Up And Play The Hits from Oscilloscope opened for a one-night-only release on limited showtimes on Wednesday, with select encore shows added on Thursday due to demand. “The film played to capacity in the top 20 markets with nearly every show selling out,” the company said. In all, it played on 161 theaters and made $378K with an average of $2,353. More showings are being added.

Fox Searchlight over the weekend expanded Sundance feature winner Beasts Of The Southern Wild (from its strong opening one month ago). Cohen Media Group’s Farewell My Queen reigned strongly in its second week. Indomina’s The Imposter remained in 1 theater in its second round, still grabbing audiences with a healthy average. Sundance Selects expanded its India-set feature Trishna into 15 additional locations. And The Weinstein Company’s Easy Money stayed in two theaters in its second weekend and only dropped -38% from its opening:

NEW

30 Beats (Roadside Attractions) NEW [15 Theaters] R
Weekend $8,665, Average $578

Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai 3-D (Tribeca Film) NEW [2 Theaters]
Weekend $12,275, Average $6,138

The Queen Of Versailles (Magnolia) NEW [3 Theaters] PG
Weekend $54K, Average $18K

The Well Digger’s Daughter (Kino Lorber Films) NEW [2 Theaters] NR
Weekend $13K, Average $4,333

Shut Up And Play The Hits (Oscilloscope) Week 1 – July 18/19 [161 Theaters]
Weekdays $378K, Average $2,353

Returning / 2nd Weekend

Farewell My Queen (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [11 Theaters]
Weekend $96,910, Average $8,810, Cume $201K

2016 Obama’s America (Rocky Mountain Pictures) Week 2 [4 Theaters]
Weekend $33,020K, Average $8,255, Cume $80K

The Obama Effect (AMC) Week 2 [21 Theaters] PG13
Weekend $6K, Average $286, Cume $103K

Easy Money (The Weinstein Company) Week 2 [2 Theaters]
Weekend $15,256, Average $7,628, Cume $52K

The Imposter (Indomina) Week 2 [1 Theater]
Weekend $12,246K, Average $12,246, Cume $43K

Omerta (Alliance Vivafilm) Week 2 [82 Theaters]
Weekend $257K, Average $3,137, Cume $1.3M

Red Lights (Millennium Entertainment) Week 2 [2 Theaters]
Weekend $2,760, Average $1,380, Cume $17K

Trishna (Sundance Selects) Week 2 [16 Theaters]
Weekend $40K, Average $2,500, Cume $89K

Union Square (Dada Films) Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $2,527, Average $1,263, Cume $26,890

Holdovers / 3rd And More Weekends

Runaway Slave (Rocky Mountain Pictures) Week 3 [1 Theater]
Weekend $751, Average $751, Cume $11K

Beasts Of The Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight) Week 4 [129 Theaters]
Weekend $762K , Average $5,905, Cume $2.9M
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‘Beasts’ Still Strong in 2nd Weekend; Newcomers Open Soft: Specialty Box Office

A trio of holdovers grabbed the bulk of specialty business this weekend, with Fox Searchlight’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Sony Classics’ To Rome With Love and Focus’ Moonrise Kingdom leading the pack. Three films, China Heavyweight from Zeitgeist, Magnolia’s The Magic Of Belle Isle and Red Flag’s The Do-Deca-Pentathlon reported numbers for their new, very limited rollouts. Documentary Heavyweight opened in one theater, grossing $2,804, while Magnolia’s Belle Isle launched in several locations, with a modest per-theatre average of $2,750. Red Flag Releasing’s Duplass Bros-directed feature The Do-Deca-Pentathlon averaged a softer $1,250 in 8 locations.
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‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Ferocious; ‘To Rome With Love’ Strong: Specialty B.O.

After a slew of festival accolades including prizes at Sundance and Cannes, Beasts Of The Southern Wild swarmed the box office. With no stars and a first-time feature filmmaker, the pic nevertheless resonated with specialty audiences in-the-know. In New York and Los Angeles, the Louisiana Bayou-set film averaged an impressive $42,309 in four theaters. It was apparent the feature struck some zeitgeist when its star, 8-year-old newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, made some of the talk-show rounds including The View and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno this week. Unless the universe realigns, the film should be a reasonable hit. Beasts opened last Wednesday and has taken in more than $220K so far.

Related: Raunch Rules! R-Rated ‘Ted’ $52.5M And ‘Magic Mike’ $38M Weekends

Fox Searchlight wasn’t shy about providing some interesting trivia. Beasts director Benh Zeitlin places 6th in the all-time limited release hierarchy for a first-time feature filmmaker. Searchlight had momentum with the title following its win at Sundance where it took the prize for best U.S. dramatic feature and then in Cannes taking the Camera D’Or, though Searchlight is being sanguine about its long-tail. “They were yelling Quvenzhané’s name out at the theaters,” Fox Searchlight’s SVP of distribution Frank Rodriguez said of the film’s young star (her name is pronounced ‘Kay-ven-zhaun-ay’). “But as you know in this business, that doesn’t necessarily win … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’, ‘Take This Waltz’, ‘Last Ride’

By | Friday June 29, 2012 @ 12:38pm PDT

A long time in the making, Beasts Of The Southern Wild made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, taking the top prize amid rumors it would head to Cannes. Sure enough, it did although not in the Official Selection. It won notice there as well, winning one of the festival’s top prizes and it’s hitting theaters this week. Australian feature The Last Ride traveled the festival circuit, but took some time before landing U.S. distribution, though it picked up a high-profile ally here. Take This Waltz is naturally getting attention courtesy of its star Michelle Williams and director Sarah Polley, while Venice-set Unforgivable is also hoping to ride the media wave to solid box office numbers this weekend.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Writers: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Probably the most celebrated indie of the first half of 2012, Beasts Of The Southern Wild won the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D’Or in Cannes last month. Not bad for a project with a director making his feature debut and a cast that sported non-pros across the board. The film did have some friends along the way. The San Francisco Film Society awarded the movie two grants that helped the filmmakers in withr post-production, according to producer Michael Gottwald. Grants organization Cinereach also got involved throughout the process. Read More »

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‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Co-Writer Lucy Alibar Sets Next Gig At Escape Artists

Mike Fleming

RELATED: Fox Searchlight Fetes Sundance Sensation ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild At Cannes’

EXCLUSIVE: Lucy Alibar, co-writer of Beasts Of The Southern Wild, has closed a deal to write her next screenplay for Escape Artists. It is an original idea that is inspired by Alibar’s play, Christmas and Jubilee Behold the Meteor Shower. Alibar co-wrote Beasts Of The Southern Wild with Behn Zeitlin, which is based on her original play Juicy and Delicious. The film won this year’s Sundance’s Narrative Grand Jury prize. Fox Searchlight acquired the film at that festival and screened it tonight and received a rousing response at the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard.

“This is the first time in many years that I have met such a young, unique and fresh voice and we are very excited to be working with Lucy” said Todd Black from Escape Artists.

Alibar is repped by Gersh and Dan Halsted at Manage-ment.

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