Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Most specialty newcomers had a rough go in their rollouts over the weekend, but one film – Celeste And Jesse Forever – managed a spectacular debut. Magnolia Pictures‘ 360 also enjoyed a respectable opening, while others failed to gain traction. Sony Classics’ Sundance Film Festival pick-up Celeste And Jesse Forever, directed by Lee Toland Krieger and co-written by and starring Rashida Jones averaged a solid $28K at four locations in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend, easily topping other specialty debuts. “This is a real labor of love that took so long to get to the screen,” Krieger told Deadline. “The happy ending was when Sony Pictures Classics picked it up.” Sony Classics’ Michael Barker praised Krieger as a “true American independent talent.” The film, which had a budget under $1 million, will next head to Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego. Read More »
Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Two 2012 Sundance Film Festival documentaries hit the specialty market this coming weekend. Competition titles Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will add to 2012′s lineup of non-fiction fare which has seen box office success with Bully and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. LD Entertainment is attempting to make proverbial lemonade out of its NC-17 rating for Killer Joe, which has had audiences clamoring for tickets at festivals and other events. Drafhouse Films is banking on its Danish comedy Klown to cross over for U.S. specialty audiences and possibly break out further, while Ruby Sparks sailed into Fox Searchlight after an easy shoot for a story that will appeal to 18-35s (or 40s).
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Writer-director: Alison Klayman
Subjects: Ai Weiwei, Danqing Chen, Ying Gao
Distributor: Sundance Selects
An American freelance journalist who lived in China from 2006 to 2010, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry director Alison Klayman first met the famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei through her roommate who asked her to put together a short video for an art show of Ai’s New York photographs while in Beijing. She quickly realized there was more to tell. “I just felt like to do a character portrait of him would really not only be entertaining but also it would illuminate something about a side of contemporary China that I felt like I was just encountering for the first time through him,” said Klayman. “So I was definitely feeling that at least I needed to follow up with this guy and he liked the video that I did for the exhibition. So that was also a good way to keep moving forward.”
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EXCLUSIVE: The William Friedkin-directed black comedy Killer Joe will be released by LD Entertainment on July 27 with an NC-17 rating. The film received that rating in late February, and the decision was made after the distributor and filmmaker unsuccessfully went through the appeals process before deciding they didn’t want to change the ending.
An adaptation of the Tracy Letts play, Killer Joe is the first release by LD Entertainment after Mickey Liddell formed the distribution company late last year and hired veteran indie executive David Dinerstein to run it. It’s not the first time Friedkin turned in a cut of a film that drew a dreaded rating from the MPAA. While Friedkin tackled rough subject matter in films like The Exorcist and To Live And Die In L.A., he got an X-rating for the 1980 film Cruising, in which Al Pacino played a detective who goes undercover looking for a killer preying on gay men. Friedkin said he had to cut 40 minutes of that movie to get an R rating. But he won’t have to cut a frame of Killer Joe. LD Entertainment will release a trailer for the film tomorrow, and it will wear the NC-17 rating like a red badge of courage. Read More »
‘Killer Joe’ Gets NC-17; Planning To Appeal Rating
LOS ANGELES — The Classification and Rating Appeals Board today upheld the NC-17 rating given to the movie Killer Joe. The Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) had assigned the movie the NC-17 rating for “graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.” In the appeal brought by LD Entertainment, the Appeals Board heard statements on behalf of Killer Joe from David Dinerstein, President of LD Entertainment, and Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prizewinner, Playwright and Screenwriter. The Classification and Rating Administration was represented by Chairman Joan Graves.
EXCLUSIVE: Another movie has gotten an NC-17. Killer Joe, the Billy Friedkin-directed adaptation of the Tracy Letts play just got an NC-17 rating. That is one of the first releases by LD Entertainment, the new distribution company started by Mickey Liddell and run by David Dinerstein. They will appeal the rating and it’s unusual; Letts is the Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning playwright of August: Osage County.This one is a garish, sexy black comedy that stars Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gerson and Thomas Haden Church and it’s slated for a summer release.
The pic premiered at Venice and it has been called Tennessee Williams meets Quentin Tarantino. It played Toronto, where it was acquired by LD, and will makes its US premiere at SXSW. It’s racy and violent, but LD thinks it’s an R film. “We will use our best efforts to overturn this decision,” Dinerstein said. “We stand by our filmmakers and remain faithful to their visions.” Stay tuned.
Mickey Liddell’s Liddell Entertainment closed a U.S. rights deal from Voltage Pictures for Killer Joe, the drama directed by William Friedkin that premiered Sunday night at the Ryerson Theater. This might get CAA bragging rights for the largest sale of the festival so far, with a $4 million minimum guarantee and an even larger P&A commitment. The UTA-brokered Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was also a large deal, said to be in excess of $5 million. Liddell is working on a distribution plan right now for 2012, and he will make a service deal with a distributor. Deadline revealed last night that Liddell was going to get the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival before coming to Canada. The sexy drama stars Matthew McConaughey as the contract killer title character as well as Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple. In Killer Joe, Hirsch plays a drug dealer whose cash gets stolen by his mother and has to come up with $6000 or he’s dead. He hires Killer Joe (McConaughey) when he learns mom’s life insurance policy is worth $50,000. Joe usually demands his money up front but is flexible when the drug dealer offers his sister as sexual collateral. Read More »
UPDATE: Sellers of Friends With Kids say I jumped the gun and their auction hasn’t concluded. I believe that Lionsgate is squarely in the mix, but they tell me others are still in it too and the outcome isn’t as certain as I’d heard last night for a deal that will be for U.S. only. Will update information as it develops.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: The deal logjam here is on the verge of clearing up. Word is rampant that Lionsgate is on the verge of tying down rights to the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, with a deal worth upwards of $2 million for U.S. and five other territories. The ensemble comedy stars Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott as friends whose lives are altered when they start families. Cinetic and Red Granite are selling.
In another deal taking shape, Mickey Liddell is in talks to acquire rights to the William Friedkin-directed Killer Joe, the drama that made its Toronto debut Sunday. It is the first acquisition of the festival for Liddell, whose last year acquisitions included the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful. Read More »
Fox International Productions is producing a thriller with the working title of Bunker to be filmed in Bogota, Colombia … Gina Gershon, Thomas Hayden Church and Juno Temple have been added to director William Friedkin’s Killer Joe for Voltage Pictures. The project is adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tracy Letts from his own play. The cast joins previously-announced Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch. Production stars this week in New Orleans … Anchor Bay Films has acquired distribution rights to Joker Films’ Daydream Nation, starring Kat Dennings … John Carpenter will serve as the executive producer of The Hell Within. The Barry Films project is about a woman who goes on a quest into the heart of a Brazilian jungle to save a girl, only to discover that the girl was bait … The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnet Releasing, genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has acquired US rights to Thai title BKO: Bangkok Knockout.