Three features and two docs are among this week’s new specialty releases hitting theaters against the summer tentpoles. Sundance doc The Imposter may prove somewhat controversial given the con-man who figures at the center of the story — and who proved to be the source of heavy anxiety in making the film. Ballplayer: Pelotero may move beyond hard-core baseball fans about two people pursuing the American dream. On the narrative side, Red Lights director Rodrigo Cortés tells Deadline about a rule he broke while writing the screenplay for the story he also directed. Easy Money distributor The Weinstein Company hopes to tap into the success of director Daniel Espinosa’s previous box office smash, and Sundance Selects’ Trishna heads into theaters after a hefty festival run for the Michael Winterbottom-directed feature.
Directors: Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin, Jonathan Paley
Subjects: Jean Carlos Batista, Miguel Angel Sano, John Leguizamo (Narrator)
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Executive producers Andrew Muscato and Bobby Valentine set up Makuhari Media in 2010 to make sports documentaries and thought baseball would make a good start. The pair saw footage from what would become Ballplayer: Pelotero and decided to take on the project. “What drives me is that we want to tell stories set in the world of sports but have a general appeal to an audience,” Muscato told Deadline. “These people in Pelotero tell a story about people who want to fulfill their dreams.” The project also attracted veteran doc editor Mary Manhardt (Racing Dreams, The Canal Street Madam), which also was a boon to the project about two top baseball players from the Dominican Republic who face fierce competition and corruption as they chase their dreams. “She can take a niche subject and make it palatable to audiences,” noted Muscato. “Getting her made it a selling point for us to be part of the film.” Read More »
Rodrigo Cortes’ follow-up to Buried was picked up by Millennium Entertainment in January after polarizing Sundance. The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones and Joely Richardson. The story follows a psychologist and her assistant who study paranormal activity, leading them to investigate a world-renowned psychic. Millennium has a July 13 release date for the film which Momentum is setting loose on June 22 in the UK. Here’s the trailer:
Millennium Entertainment acquired the Sundance film Red Lights, which stars Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Elizabeth Olsen. Despite the starpower, some buyers were turned off to the film, in which psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic. Some were considering VOD bids, but that gave Millennium Entertainment an opportunity to make a 7-figure deal. It was directed by Rodrigo Cortes, who helmed Buried.
Even as the Sundance Film Festival rolls into its 4th decade, there’s one “first” at this year’s edition which kicks off Thursday. The festival’s Premieres section will all screen (as of now) without distribution in place. “For the first time, all of the films in Premieres are for sale,” Sundance’s head of programming Trevor Groth tells me. Groth said that the big For Sale sign in the section was not a conscious effort on the part of programmers but instead “circumstantial”. Though he added that the change in the specialty landscape may have contributed: “A number of these films came from producers and not distributors. Maybe it’s a one-off year, but we’ll see.” The first narratives in Premieres will screen Friday evening with Celeste And Jesse Forever, director Lee Toland Krieger’s story of a troubled couple starring Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts, and Elijah Wood. That’s followed by Rodrigo Cortés’ metaphysical phenomena drama Red Lights with Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones, and Leonardo Sbaraglia.