Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor
UPDATED: Documentaries lead the way with sizzling debuts among the Specialties over the weekend. Drafthouse Films clearly won bragging rights with critically lauded Danish-produced feature The Act Of Killing. The film re-tells the story of the little-known massacre of leftists and perceived leftists in Indonesia in the 1960s and ’70s through Hollywood-style re-enactments of the crimes by the killers themselves. It opened at downtown Manhattan’s Sunshine theater, grossing $28,067. Though only one venue, the bow nevertheless gives the title reason to boast — placing it atop all other documentary debuts in 2013 including the likes of 56 Up ($22,088 per screen average), The Gatekeepers ($20,517 PSA), 20 Feet From Stardom ($18,199 PSA), Koch ($17,598 PSA) and Stories We Tell ($13,527 PSA). Also opening with some gusto this weekend was Magnolia’s Blackfish. The fellow Sundance docu opened in four theaters, grossing $66,500 for a $16,625 PSA, placing it in the middle of the year’s top non-fiction openers. The weekend’s big narrative debuts, Only God Forgives and Girl Most Likely, meanwhile, skirted the traditional platform strategy and headed into a number of markets. Cannes debut Forgives, starring Ryan Gosling, headed with a mix of critical response into 78 theaters, grossing a so-so $315K for a $4,039 average (though the film is No. 2 on iTunes this weekend). Meanwhile, Roadside/Lionsgate’s Girl Most Likely with Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon had the largest Specialty bow of the summer with its 353 locations, grossing $736K for a soft $2,085 PSA. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Roadside/Lionsgate’s Girl Most Likely and RADiUS-TWC’s Only God Forgives will be among this summer’s largest weekend rollouts among the Specialties. Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon and Darren Criss starrer Girl Most Likely will continue Roadside’s strategy of opening indies with named actors in theaters numbering in the hundreds in order to capitalize on media attention, a move they have had success with earlier this year. Two docs from Magnolia Pictures and Drafthouse Films join the Specialty newcomers, with Blackfish facing push-back from SeaWorld about its doc spotlighting marine animals in captivity. The Act Of Killing, meanwhile, received a heap of praise in its festival run and has the likes of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris backing up the film, which takes a unique twist on the non-fiction form. And Well Go USA is targeting the Chinese-American community with its Jay Chou Taiwanese feature, The Rooftop.
Only God Forgives
Director-writer: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Tom Burke
Producer Lene Borglum founded production company Space Rocket Nation with Nicolas Winding Refn following their successful collaboration on Valhalla Rising in 2009 and was naturally on board Only God Forgives from the beginning. The Cannes premiere divided audiences, but made quite an impression at its world premiere. The film revolves around a Bangkok drug smuggler whose life is complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death. “I really like the visual style and universe of Nicolas Winding Refn,” said Borglum. “It’s unique and innovative. I am also very attracted to the psychological layers of the film and the way of working with the different layers, as well as his way of working with sound and music rather than explaining everything in dialogue.” Initially, the plan had been to go with an up and coming U.K. talent due to the project’s low budget, casting British actor Luke Evans who later dropped out to appear in The Hobbit. At the time, Refn had been given the Best Director Award at Cannes for Drive, which starred Ryan Gosling, who stepped in to star. Read More »
One the splashiest pickups at Toronto last year was the forgettably titled Imogene. The Kristen Wiig-Annette Bening comedy now known as Girl Most Likely is hitting theaters July 19 via Roadside and Lionsgate. The American Splendor duo of Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini directed the pic about a once-rising playwright (Wiig) whose life goes off the rails. She’s forced to move back in with her estranged — and strange — gambling-addict mom (Bening). Matt Dillon, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Darren Criss also star in the film scripted by Michelle Morgan. Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler, Alix Madigan-Yorkin and Mark Amin produced it.