Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Joss Whedon‘s Much Ado About Nothing clearly ruled the Specialty Box Office this weekend. Opening in 5 theaters, the Roadside/Lionsgate release gave the 4-century-old play some 21st century adulation, grossing over $183K in 5 theaters for a $36,680 average. Whedon broke box office records last year with The Avengers and will likely do so again with his second round with the franchise, but the versatile filmmaker has clearly shown his filmmaking chops outside the big summer tentpole. Sundance Selects debuted its timely Dirty Wars in 4 runs, also opening solid. The distributor said it played sold out shows in all venues and called the launch a “promising start.” This weekend’s limited release newcomers were plentiful, though most others opened soft at best. Oz pic Wish You Were Here bowed in 11 theaters, averaging $2,338, while Kino Lorber’s You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet opened in two locations, averaging $3,500. Cinedigm’s Violet & Daisy, meanwhile, debuted in 17 locations, with a very slight $602 average, taking in over $10K. The film will move into the top ten markets next weekend.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, ‘Dirty Wars’, ‘Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie’, ‘Violet & Daisy’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Hey Bartender’, ‘Hello Herman’, ‘Tiger Eyes’
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.
SXSW isn’t a sales-dominant fest, but two years ago Universal’s Bridesmaids debut here paid off when the Kristen Wiig pic became a $288 million global box office hit. Now studios with spring openers and genre fare are hoping SXSW can be a similar launching pad for strong word of mouth. Here are the mainstream pics hoping to squeeze hot buzz out of SXSW:
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.):
Director: Don Scardino, Story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Cast: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi. Warner Bros opens the Steve Carell – Jim Carrey magician comedy nationwide next week but the mixed critical reaction after its SXSW opening night premiere won’t help.
Evil Dead (Screen Gems):
Director/Screenwriter: Fede Alvarez, Screenwriter: Rodo Sayagues. Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore. Producer Sam Raimi’s fingerprints have been all over this quasi-remake, which was the hottest ticket in town on Day One. Raimi didn’t make the trip to Austin to stump for Evil Dead with director Fede Alvarez and fellow producer Bruce Campbell — he was busy opening Disney’s Oz: The Great And Powerful — but the gory R-rated remake made an impression on the late night genre crowd.
Related: Joss Whedon Q&A On Eve Of SXSW
THURSDAY PM: Joss Whedon is making a much anticipated appearance at SXSW to present his indie modern retelling of the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing. That’s the microbudgeted pic he shot in 12 days in secret under his Bellwether Pictures banner while working on Marvel‘s The Avengers. Picked up after its Toronto debut, the film screens in Austin with a panel on Saturday in front of his rabid fanbase – then hits theaters June 7 via Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions. (The film releases June 14 in the UK via Kaleidoscope, which is also handling international sales.)
Whedon recently wrapped his pilot for Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. series and is set to work on The Avengers 2 for a 2015 release. He’s also contracted for three years as a creative consultant to Marvel, helping studio head Kevin Feige develop the sprawling superhero universe. Whedon admits the Marvel commitments may not leave time anymore for passion projects like Much Ado because he’s “in constant danger of burning out”. He also talks to Deadline’s Jen Yamato and contributor Joe Utichi about what could have been – Wonder Woman, Star Wars – and what might still be for The Hulk:
DEADLINE: Most directors helming a giant summer blockbuster wouldn’t choose to use their 2-week break to make a small Shakespeare film.
WHEDON: Making The Avengers was very important to me, but it was also extremely arduous. I missed my friends and I missed my home, so I decided to throw them all on camera which is the only way I seem to know to relate to people. But I was blissfully happy when we were shooting Much Ado About Nothing – and it was actually one week and three weekends – and then I went back to cutting Avengers much better. I was in the very early process – my first assembly was very long. When I came back from Much Ado, without any rancor or confusion, I was able to cut the film down to length and readily focus on the things that mattered. I think I would have come to that one way or another, but Much Ado sped it up. Here I was making absolute giddy ridiculous art with no expectations, and nothing but joy – and wishing that my neighbors’ dogs would shut up.
Here’s the official trailer for Joss Whedon’s indie Much Ado About Nothing that he’ll be presenting Saturday at SXSW. The pic is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words. Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker star along with Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Ashley Johnson, Fran Kranz and Spencer Treat Clark. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions will release on June 7.
SXSW 2013: Line-Up Includes Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ U.S. Premiere & ‘Bates Motel’ Pilot Preview
It’s not The Avengers 2 but Joss Whedon’s other new movie is making its stateside premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Much Ado About Nothing, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year, joins 108 other feature films at the March 8-16 fest in Austin, SXSW announced today. Along with the previously announced world premieres of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, and the reimagined Evil Dead, this year’s SXSW has an on-stage interview with sometimes Austin resident Matthew McConaughey, new films from John Sayles and Nick Cassavetes, a preview of A&E’s Bates Motel pilot, a documentary about home movies from the Nixon White House and, Austin being Music City, a lot of music movies. Here are SXSW’s descriptions of the movies, panels and other events unveiled today:
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Joss Whedon
Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing. Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese (U.S. Premiere)
EXCLUSIVE: Joss Whedon, who late last spring set the blockbuster tone for summer with the May release of The Avengers, will venture further into the warm weather season with his next film — this time aiming for the counter-programming buck. Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate have set a June 7 opening for Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon’s contemporized adaptation of the William Shakespeare play. The film will open that day in five markets and then broaden out June 21.
BREAKING: Lionsgate acquired North American distribution rights to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, the low budget film by The Avengers helmer that played at Toronto this past weekend. Lionsgate sister company Roadside Attractions is in the mix, as it was on Imogene and Thanks For Sharing.
The Shakespeare classic comedy with a contemporary spin stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Clark Gregg, and Reed Diamond. Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, Lionsgate’s co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks, and Roadside’s co-President Howard Cohen were in the mix and CAA repped the filmmakers.