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Specialty Box Office: Roadside’s ‘Friends With Kids’ Debuts Solid, ‘Footnote’ And ‘Jiro’ Bow Strong

Roadside Attractions opened Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids at 374 theaters over the weekend, by far the widest roll out of the new specialty releases. The distributor noted its cast — including Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox, Ed Burns, and Chris O’Dowd — did a “firestorm of press” promoting the comedy in the run up to the film’s theatrical opening. Hamm will have another big debut later this month when the fifth season of Mad Men debuts March 25th. Friends With Kids expands to 600 locations next weekend. Sony Classics’ Footnote took the weekend’s highest per screen average among the specialty titles. The film debuted at two location, averaging just over $24,000. Documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi also rolled out in two theaters with a stellar $21,000 average for the Magnolia Pictures release, while Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen bowed in 18 theaters with a robust $13,333 average.

Among second week holdovers, Focus Features’ Being Flynn added 8 locations, averaging $3,555, about a 68% drop from the feature’s $11,386 opening average in 4 theaters. Paladin’s Boy added two theaters, averaging $4,713 in its second weekend, a 60% decline from its debut $11,695 average at two locations.

1. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Adopt Films) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $9K, Per Screen Average $3,150

2. Footnote (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [2 Theaters]
Weekend $48K, Per Screen Average $24,038

3. Friends With Kids (Roadside Attractions) NEW [374 Theaters] Weekend $2.1M, Per Screen Average $5,615

4. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $42K, Per Screen Average $21,000

5. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (CBS Films) NEW [18 Theaters] Weekend $240K, Per Screen Average $13,333
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OSCAR: Analyzing Foreign Language Race

This season, 63 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 84th Academy Awards. The 2011 submissions are vying to be among the 9 long-listed by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences before the 5 finalists are announced with Oscar nominations on January 24. Here are the films that AwardsLine London Contributor Tim Adler believes will make the semifinal round:

Declaration Of War (France)
Sundance Selects, U.S. release date: January 27
Valérie Donzelli’s Declaration Of War has been a huge hit with critics and the public alike. The movie, which opened Cannes Critics’ Week this  year, has sold to more than 30 territories and has already generated over 810,000 admissions in France for distributor-sales agent Wild Bunch. Declaration Of War is based on Donzelli’s own life story. She and her former partner Jérémie Elkaïm play themselves in the film, which charts their fight to save the baby they had together after he is diagnosed with a brain tumor. The film’s success with audiences is largely attributed to its happy ending: the baby survives. Donzelli tells me, “The audience is confronted with the worst thing you can imagine, and yet they see people overcoming the situation. It’s not about the anguish of death but passion for life.”

The Flowers Of War (China)
Wrekin Hill, U.S. Release: 2012

Flowers marks a return to high drama for China’s favorite director Zhang Yimou and represents his fourth attempt at an Academy Award,
following defeats for Hero (2003), Raise the Red Lantern (1992) and Ju Dou (1991). With a budget of nearly $100 million, The Flowers of War – starring Christian Bale – is Zhang’s most expensive film ever. Zhang’s problem: Judges of the Best Foreign-Language Film category don’t really go for blockbusters. The film is based on events in the former Chinese capital of Nanjing when the Japanese occupied it during the Second World War. Bale plays a mortician who goes to collect the body of an American priest from Nanjing Cathedral, where he discovers local schoolgirls hiding from the carnage outside. Pledging to protect them, he dresses up as a priest and also shelters a group of prostitutes who have arrived at the cathedral. The Flowers of War ran for seven days in a 22-seat Beijing cinema to meet entry standards for the Oscars, which requires films to be  shown in domestic theatres for at least a week. (It’s reportedly 40% English-language and 60% Mandarin, which lets it squeak by one of the Academy’s rules.) Despite little promotion and tickets costing 200 yuan ($30), double the normal price, Zhang’s latest sold out within 40 minutes of its box office opening. Chinese producer New Pictures Films  handled U.S. rights with exec producers Chaoying Deng and David Linde and Stephen Saltzman of Loeb & Loeb. Wrekin Hill has acquired for U.S. distribution and releases on December 23.
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CANNES: The Weinstein Company Parties (Twice) And Previews Its 2011 Film Slate

Pete Hammond

Still enjoying its post-King’s Speech Best Picture Oscar win from a couple of months ago, The Weinstein Company had plenty of reasons to party Friday night in Cannes, so they threw two soirees instead of just one. It was a packed main event at the Martinez, where the company showed clip reels of its burgeoning 2011 slate. COO David Glasser touted the company’s recent highlights and introduced a beaming Harvey Weinstein, who crowed (sorry) about the upcoming slate mentioning future hoped-for biggies including what he described as perhaps their biggest movie ever, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Deadline broke the news Friday of another potential winner that was mentioned, TWC’s acquisition of The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Britain’s only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, which TWC will release in the fall in time for Oscar. Then he showed some first looks of upcoming product including My Week With Marilyn, with Michelle Williams glammed up as the legendary Monroe (although it’s clearly a challenge to capture that particular magic) and Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier. I talked to Williams on a phoner from London while she was making the film, and she had a really difficult time articulating the process she was going through. The task was obviously a daunting one, but I can’t wait to see what she does with it in the context of the whole film. I heard Branagh’s brilliant in it.

There were also clips from Our Idiot Brother, with Paul Rudd, and the last-minute Cannes competition entry The Artist, a black-and-white silent movie that will unspool in a prime Sunday night slot at the Palais. Harvey introduced it by saying his associates thought he was off his rocker for buying this black-and-white silent, “just like they thought I was when I did a film about a guy with a left foot and a British king who stutters.” At the party, he made a point of telling me to see the film as soon as possible here. The footage really made it look intriguing, full of old Hollywood pizzazz and style, so I will be checking it out bright and early Sunday morning at the first press screening. Weinstein clearly has a Harv-on for this one and also seemed high on a new comedy just wrapping production, I Don’t Know How She Does It starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. Parker was flown into Cannes for the event and introduced the clips herself. Also part of the proceedings was yet another recent acquisition announced in Cannes (these guys are busy) of Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s Martial Arts film noir, Dragon, which had its official Cannes premiere out of competition just after midnight. The director introduced the entire cast and promised something completely new in the genre. And just to keep the town hopping, Weinstein threw a second party later Friday to celebrate Dragon before their red-carpet stroll.

Elsewhere on Friday, the competition films got international with former Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti’s Read More »

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Cannes: Sony Classics Acquires Competition Title ‘Footnote’

By | Friday May 13, 2011 @ 4:49pm PDT
Mike Fleming

NEW YORK (MAY 13, 2011) — Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American and Latin American rights to Joseph Cedar’s FOOTNOTE from WestEnd Films. The film is a contender for the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or.

Cedar’s last film BEAUFORT was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008.

FOOTNOTE follows a great rivalry between a father and his son, their need for each other and their need for respect and recognition in the world. The film stars Shlomo Bar Aba and Lior Ashkenazi, and was produced by David Mandill (BEAUFORT, CAMPFIRE) and United King (LEBANON, WALK ON WATER).

“Sony Pictures Classics represents the best in world cinema,” explained WestEnd chairman and co-founder Sharon Harel. “They are the perfect home for this wonderful film and very special director.”

“When we met Joseph Cedar a few years ago, we knew he was a director of extraordinary talent. We are thrilled that he and our friends at WestEnd have agreed to be partners with us on what promises to be a major American release,” stated Sony Pictures Classics.

Sony Pictures Classics negotiated the deal with WestEnd Films and ICM, the agents for Joseph Cedar.

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