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Specialty Box Office: Holdovers Rule With ‘No’, ‘Gatekeepers’ & Oscar-Buzzed ‘Amour’

By | Sunday February 24, 2013 @ 10:44am PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie Films

Holdovers held sway in the specialty arena on an otherwise quiet Oscars weekend. Best Foreign Language contender No starring Gael García Bernal added two theaters in its second weekend, averaging a stellar $13,726. The Chilean entry is expected to Sony Pictures Classics’ competing nominee Amour, however which continues its momentum at the box office (and in the awards department after yesterday’s best foreign feature win at the Independent Spirit Awards). In its 10th weekend, SPC added 22 locations for Amour, averaging $2,489 and bringing its cume to just under $5.25 million. Sundance Selects’ second weekend holdover Like Someone In Love added 6 theaters, averaging $2,542. The film averaged $7,615 at its debut but its second weekend number out-shined Sundance Selects’ Oscar Weekend opener Inescapable, which grossed a paltry $721 in two theaters. Tribeca Film opened a double-billing of Alex Karpovsky’s Rubberneck and Red Flag at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York, grossing $4,150. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker And Tom Bernard On Why Oscars Matter

Pete Hammond

When it comes to Oscar savvy we often hear Harvey Weinstein talked about as the kingpin of the game, but when you look at the success of Sony Pictures Classics you realize it rivals Weinstein, Searchlight, Focus and other comers in consistently, and annually, releasing and nurturing one contender after another in the quest for the elusive statuette of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Since the company was founded in December 1991, key to its success has been its co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who first worked together in similar specialty divisions at United Artists and Orion and now continue to run one of the most stable indie shops in the industry. But with a total of 25 Oscar wins  and 109 nominations just at SPC they clearly have the Midas touch, and that includes a slew of Best Picture nominations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (their biggest hit to date), Howard’s End, Capote, An Education, Midnight In Paris and this year’s Amour which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes and has amassed five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, only the fifth film in Academy history to be named in both categories. With writing and directing nods for Michael Haneke as well as a realistic Best Actress bid for star Emmanuelle Riva the film looks to be another strong contender for the pair who continue to be one of the few high profile companies that still champions foreign language films. SPC serves up a wide variety of specialty fare of all types and always seems to find a footing in the Oscar race which has become an important part of their business plan. With two contenders for Best Documentary and two for Best Foreign Language Film in addition to the Best Picture bid, the pair are fixtures at every major film festival and are once again making lots of noise in their high season. I spoke to both late last week about the upcoming Oscars and what it means to their bottom line.

Deadline: How important is this Oscar business to the actual business of Sony Pictures Classics?
Bernard: It’s part of the  business for Sony Pictures Classics because we can get movies, or have movies, that won’t get the recognition that they deserve any other way. And if they get that recognition what we have found is that the boxoffice and ancillary and profits of these movies get much better. We can go all the way back to Camille Claudel when we had Isabelle Adjani and somebody close to her suggested that you should run a campaign for her for Best Actress and we said ‘it will never happen, no one will watch the movie. We can’t get them to the theatre. And the person said ‘well why don’t you send out VHS cassettes to the Academy’ so we did and sent them to the actors branch and lo and behold we got a nomination. And it took that movie to a level it would have never gotten if it didn’t happen. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Sony Classics Scores With ‘No’, Holdover Doc ‘Gatekeepers’ Solid

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 10:19am PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie Films2013 has been blasé at best for specialty box office. Thank goodness for the likes of Amour and Quartet. Although the first six weeks of the year have been otherwise dismal, it’s been good for Sony Pictures Classics. This weekend SPC scored with its Chilean Oscar-nominated feature No with an $18,619 average from four theaters. Thedistrib has also fared well with multiple Academy Award nominee Amour, which undertook a major expansion going into its third month in release, and its holdover Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers has maintained momentum. The Weinstein Company’s Quartet added more venues in its sixth weekend, actually increasing its per screen average from the previous weekend. Newcomers this weekend included Sundance Selects’ (IFC Films) Like Someone In Love, which bowed in three cinemas, averaging $7,615. The distributor, which also rolled out The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, which is available on VOD and was a midnight screening at the IFC Theater in New York exclusively, declined to report figures. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office Preview: ‘No’, ‘Like Someone In Love’, ‘Jeffrey Dahmer Files’

By | Thursday February 14, 2013 @ 7:09pm PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

In an otherwise unremarkable 2013 for specialty releases, Sony Pictures Classics has one of two films that have become mainstays among specialty releases with its multiple Oscar nominee Amour (the other is The Weinstein Company‘s Quartet). The distributor also scored solidly on The Gatekeepers with more than $152K in three theaters for the documentary’s first two weekends. Next up is this weekend’s bow of the Chilean feature simply titled No starring Gael García Bernal, which is also up for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category. IFC Films’ Sundance Select is taking on Iranian-born director Abbas Kiarostami’s latest, Like Someone In Love, hoping to repeat the success it had with his previous film it released Stateside, Certified Copy. IFC Films is doing a limited theatrical along with day and date VOD for doc/narrative hybrid The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, which screened at last year’s SXSW Film Festival. After initially making a narrative, the filmmaking team decided to add material for an unconventional approach.

Director-writer Pablo Larraín (screenplay)
Writer: Antonio Skármeta (play)
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

The Chilean film with the simple title, No, refers to the straightforward advertising campaign masterminded by an ad executive to defeat the South American country’s longtime dictator Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 referendum. Starring Mexican-born actor Gael García Bernal, the film was praised at festival showings at Cannes, New York Film Festival and Sundance and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. “We hoped it would be entered by Chile and it was and we hoped it would get nominated and it did,” Michael Barker said from the Berlin International Film Festival. “And we’re relieved it didn’t open last weekend with the big snowstorm.” Read More »

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OSCARS: Foreign Language Nominees Linked By Intensely Personal Narratives

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor

If one thing links all five of this year’s nominees for the foreign film Oscar, it’s that the director of each picture was driven to make his movie because of strong, deeply personal feelings. These five films — a varied batch if ever there was one — have nothing in common in terms of where and when they are set, but they all deal, unapologetically, with powerful emotions. And those feelings are expressed not only by the characters in these films but also by their creators.

Perhaps the most obviously personal is Michael Haneke’s Amour, which achieved the rare feat of earning best picture and director noms, as well. The film has been cited for, among other things, its unblinking look at the degradations inflicted by illness on an aged couple. The German-born writer-director says that his recollections of a beloved aunt’s increasing infirmity inspired him to make the film. “I was forced to look on as someone very close to me suffered, someone for whom I cared very much”, he says, noting that the specifics of his aunt’s condition were not replicated in the movie. “What’s shown in the film is the product of lengthy research and my imagination”.

Yet one especially chilling aspect of his aunt’s situation — her asking him to assist in her suicide — was strongly echoed in the film. “Of course I had to tell her I was unable to do it”, Haneke recalls, “because I would have been put in jail if I had done it. I was grateful for that alibi, for I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do it otherwise. But she did it anyway, without my help”.

RELATED: Does ‘Amour’ Have A Shot To Make Academy History?

Asked whether he himself — now age 70 — worries about a fate similar to that faced by the principal characters in Amour (portrayed with uncanny and moving effect by octogenarians Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who earned a best actress nomination for the role), Haneke responds wryly and invokes another, very different, master filmmaker. “Billy Wilder was asked a similar question”, Haneke says, “and he responded by saying that the bombardments, so to speak, are coming ever closer”.  Read More »

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‘Rust And Bone’ Named Best Film At London Festival

By | Saturday October 20, 2012 @ 2:30pm PDT

Jacques Audiard’s Cannes competition film Rust And Bone took the top prize at the 56th BFI London Film Festival this evening. This makes it two in a row for Audiard whose A Prophet was also named best film at the festival in 2009. Marion Cotillard stars as a whale trainer who suffers a horrible accident. Bullhead breakout Matthias Schoenaerts plays the man who helps her through. The London jury also praised Michel Franco’s Spanish-language After Lucia, a movie about a young girl starting over in a new town which won the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes earlier this year and Pablo Larrain’s No, a study of how controversial advertising techniques contributed to the end of Chile’s General Pinochet. Gael Garcia Bernal stars in that film which left Cannes in May with the top Directors’ Fortnight prize. Sony Pictures Classics acquired both Rust And Bone and No earlier this year. No is Chile’s foreign-language Oscar submission and After Lucia is Mexico’s entry. The Sutherland award, which goes to the director of the most “original and imaginative” feature debut in the festival was awarded to Benh Zeitlin for Sundance smash Beasts Of The Southern Wild. The Sutherland jury also noted its admiration of Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Thesus and Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda, the first film made by a Saudi Arabian woman. The Grierson Award for best documentary went to Alex Gibney … Read More »

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Cannes Directors Fortnight Prizes ‘No’

By | Friday May 25, 2012 @ 11:54am PDT

The Cannes sidebar event Directors Fortnight today honored Pablo Larrain’s No, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal as the young advertising executive who engineered the advertising campaign that toppled Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 referendum. The well-received movie was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics earlier this week. Other films honored in the Fortnight under the auspices of Europa Cinemas were Merzak Allouache’s El Taaib and Noémie Lvovsky’s Camille Rewinds. The Fortnight also recognized the short film Fyzal Boulifa’s The Curse and Basil da Cunha’s The Living Also Cry. 

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TOLDJA! Sony Pictures Classics Goes For ‘No’

Deadline revealed last night that Sony Pictures Classics was in talks to acquire Pablo Larrain’s No, and now they’ve formalized the deal. Here’s the official announcement:

CANNES (May 22, 2012) – Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North American rights to Pablo Larraín’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sensation, NO from financier Participant Media in association with Funny Balloons and Fabula. NO stars Gael García Bernal (Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries), Alfredo Castro, Antónia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Néstor Cantillana, Jaime Vadell and Pascal Montero. The film is one of the best received films in Cannes with raves from critics following the first screening in Director’s Fortnight.

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Will ‘Paperboy’ Heat Domestic Buying At Cannes? Will SPC Say Yes To ‘No’?

By | Monday May 21, 2012 @ 4:38pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Gael Garcia Bernal NoSo far, the domestic deals at the Cannes Film Festival have been for the most part sluggish, but that might perk up a bit tomorrow. There’s first showing of the Lee Daniels-directed The Paperboy, which is high on buyer wanna-see lists, with a ballsy performance by Nicole Kidman. The other film I’m hearing has action is the Pablo Larrain-directed No with Gael Garcia Bernal. Word is that Sony Pictures Classics is into it. That film, which premiered last Friday in Directors’ Fortnight, is about an ad exec who comes up with a campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum. The deals will have to get rolling considerably for the festival to have a chance at matching last Cannes. Numerous buyers battling the dreary weather feel that the high number of films brought to Cannes has slowed the pace, and there hasn’t been much so far that distributors feel they absolutely had to have. The worthy ones will get deals after the festivals, but some of the packages that didn’t excite buyers probably won’t make it to the start line.

Related: The Scene In Cannes: Wet But Undaunted

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