Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
It may be blockbuster season, but the Specialties are parading a number of new titles into theaters this weekend. After ruling the box office last year, Joss Whedon‘s modern take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing will open in limited release. Similar to many of this weekend’s new offerings, the title does not have high-named stars. Sundance and Tribeca docs Dirty Wars and Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie join the fray Friday along with Precious writer Geoffrey Fletcher’s Violet & Daisy. Joel Edgerton stars in Australian film, Wish You Were Here, opening Stateside via eOne, while Freestyle Releasing will bow two features, Hello Herman and Tiger Eyes. And SXSW doc competition film Hey Bartender will also straddle up for a shot at the box office.
Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Joss Whedon (screenplay)
Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate
Roadside’s Howard Cohen is returning to a Shakespeare he knows well, having been involved with Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version two decades ago. The latest, which debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival is a black and white re-telling of the story with a modern edge. “It has a great combination of upscale art house appeal and fun modern, hipster vibe,” noted Cohen. “The actors are Americans doing Shakespeare. Joss breathes a fresh air into Shakespeare. People love Shakespeare, but you have to breathe new air to re-invent 400-year-old plays.” Shot over 12 days at Whedon’s Santa Monica home while taking a short break filming The Avengers, the undertaking was something of a passion project for Whedon who used actors that have participated in Shakespeare readings at his home. “There’s a real purist aspect to it. It’s not like he randomly decided to do a prestige movie. It’s aspirational because it’s Shakespeare, but it’s with actors he works with,” added Cohen.