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Specialty Box Office: ‘Bully’, ‘Damsels In Distress’ Solid; ‘Comic-Con’ Not So Much

Damsels In Distress and We Have A Pope lead a new crop of specialty releases for the holiday weekend: Sony Pictures Classics’ Damsels averaging a robust $16,050 in four theaters and a total of $64,200 while Sundance Selects’ Pope averaged a solid $10,133 at three locations and total of $31,500. Director Whit Stillman’s first feature since Last Days Of Disco (1998), Damsels had originally been intended for release by the now long defunct Warner Independent when the director first approached Castle Rock with the concept, but was eventually picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. Disco opened back in May of ’98 at 22 theaters, averaging $12,618 and eventually taking in just over $3 million. SPC will continue to expand the film slowly with additional cities in the coming weeks.

Fairing more modestly in its opening weekend is Wrekin Hill’s documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, which launched at one theater each in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Director Morgan Spurlock, who lead the multi-camera collaboration that captured the scene at last year’s annual mammoth comic book extravaganza Comic-Con, attended one screening in each city participating in post-screening Q&As. “The film opened [in these cities] so Morgan could be in each city,” a spokesperson for Wrekin Hill told Deadline. “The numbers were generally skewed by … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Kid With A Bike’ Opens Strong, ‘Jeff Who Lives At Home’ OK

By | Sunday March 18, 2012 @ 12:20pm PDT

St. Patrick’s Day weekend proved lucky for the Dardenne brothers’ U.S. debut of The Kid With A Bike. IFC Films opened the Belgian filmmakers’ picture in 3 locations with a robust $16,300 per screen. SXSW ’11 awards-winner Natural Selection opened at the Angelika in NYC with a decent $9,201. The Duplass Bros’ Jeff Who Lives At Home bowed in 254 theaters, with a modest $3,307 average.

Co-director Mark Duplass told Deadline that their distributor Paramount Vantage spent very little on the release’s P&A debut and they hoped the film’s cast would attract audiences despite the modest marketing dollars. They remain hopeful for the weeks ahead. “We found the gamble to be good and bad,” said Duplass. “Turns out awareness of the film was low going into the weekend, but that the people who did discover the film are spreading incredibly strong word-of-mouth as evidenced by the uptick throughout the weekend. We plan to expand next weekend with a more aggressive P&A spend as well.”

The main box office story was Sony’s 21 Jump Street‘s $35 million bow, but Lionsgate’s Spanish-language Will Farrell vehicle Casa De Mi Padre had an impressive rollout for what otherwise amounted to a specialty release.

Among week 2 specialty holdovers, Roadside Attractions added 266 theaters for Friends With Kids, averaging a decent $2,344, a 26% decline from its first weekend. Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen was perhaps the weekend’s most solid holdover, adding 44 screens, averaging a solid $7,339, a 45% drop from the film’s bow in 18 locations.

1. The Kid With A Bike (IFC Films) New [3 Theaters] Weekend $48K, Per Screen Average $16,300

2. Jeff Who Lives At Home (Paramount Vantage) NEW [254 Theaters] Weekend $840K, Per Screen Average $3,307

3. Natural Selection (The Cinema Guild) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $9,201

4. Detachment (Tribeca Film) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $11,050, Per Screen Average $5,525

5. Seeking Justice (Anchor Bay) NEW [231 Theaters] Weekend $260K, Per Screen Average $1,126

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Specialty Box Office: Roadside’s ‘Friends With Kids’ Debuts Solid, ‘Footnote’ And ‘Jiro’ Bow Strong

Roadside Attractions opened Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids at 374 theaters over the weekend, by far the widest roll out of the new specialty releases. The distributor noted its cast — including Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox, Ed Burns, and Chris O’Dowd — did a “firestorm of press” promoting the comedy in the run up to the film’s theatrical opening. Hamm will have another big debut later this month when the fifth season of Mad Men debuts March 25th. Friends With Kids expands to 600 locations next weekend. Sony Classics’ Footnote took the weekend’s highest per screen average among the specialty titles. The film debuted at two location, averaging just over $24,000. Documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi also rolled out in two theaters with a stellar $21,000 average for the Magnolia Pictures release, while Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen bowed in 18 theaters with a robust $13,333 average.

Among second week holdovers, Focus Features’ Being Flynn added 8 locations, averaging $3,555, about a 68% drop from the feature’s $11,386 opening average in 4 theaters. Paladin’s Boy added two theaters, averaging $4,713 in its second weekend, a 60% decline from its debut $11,695 average at two locations.

1. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Adopt Films) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $9K, Per Screen Average $3,150

2. Footnote (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [2 Theaters]
Weekend $48K, Per Screen Average $24,038

3. Friends With Kids (Roadside Attractions) NEW [374 Theaters] Weekend $2.1M, Per Screen Average $5,615

4. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $42K, Per Screen Average $21,000

5. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (CBS Films) NEW [18 Theaters] Weekend $240K, Per Screen Average $13,333
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From ‘Slumdog’ To ‘Salmon Fishing’ To ‘Hunger Games’: Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy Holds A Hot Hand

By | Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 4:13pm PST
Pete Hammond

When CBS Films paid a reported $5 million for distribution rights to Salmon Fishing In The Yemen after itsSalmon Fishing In The Yemen Simon Beaufoy successful world premiere last September at the Toronto Film Festival, the initial thought according to insiders was to try and release it in time for the 2011 awards season. The move that would have made sense considering the Oscar pedigree of its director — three-time nominee Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, My Life As A Dog) – and its Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, whose own three nominations for The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire (for which he and the film won) and 127 Hours were also Best Picture nominees. The Academy-friendly nature of Salmon Fishing could have put CBS Films in the race for the first time, or at the very least  a contender for Golden Globes in the Comedy or Musical categories. But looking at the crowded landscape, the distributor decided instead to tweak the film a bit (it runs four minutes less than the 111-minute version reviewed out of Toronto) and hold it for this month, starting with a limited engagement tomorrow. That makes it instead an early candidate for the 2012 contest if it does well enough to be remembered — a difficult feat for March releases.

Salmon Fishing In The YemanThe film, in which Ewan McGregor plays an uptight fisheries expert enlisted by  Emily Blunt to make a … Read More »

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‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’ To Open Palm Springs Festival

By | Thursday December 22, 2011 @ 1:37pm PST

Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen will open the 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival on Thursday, January 5, fest officials announced today. Closing gala presentation January 15 will be Almanya, Welcome to Germany. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas in the unconventional comedy adapted by Simon Beaufoy from Paul Torday’s novel. Salmon Fishing opens March 9 in the US through CBS Fims. The closing movie Almanya, Welcome To Germany is also a comedy, observing multiple generations of a German-Turkish clan. It’s directed by Yasemin Samdereli. Traditionally a foreign-langage film showcase, the festival for 2012 features 187 films from 73 countries, including 60 premieres — 2 world, 22 North American and 36 U.S. Read More »

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CBS Films Dates ‘Salmon Fishing In Yemen’

CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen will be released by CBS Films on March 2, 2012 in a limited run. It stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked (Syriana) in a tale of fly-fishing and political spinning, unexpected heroism, and late-blooming love. I hear the studio, which bought the film at Toronto last month, thinks it has awards potential but didn’t want to make it a contender this late in the year.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) and written by Oscar-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), the filmis based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel about a scientist who looks to fulfills a sheikh’s dream of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his homeland in Yemen. It is produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.

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CBS Films’ Amy Baer Exiting As President And CEO As Focus Shifts To Acquisitions

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Les Moonves has just released a statement on the exit of Amy Baer from CBS Films: “We thank Amy for her important role in building CBS Films. Going forward, we remain fully committed to the division’s focus on a targeted slate of smart acquisitions and quality homegrown productions in all genres. CBS Films is small in the overall size and scope of our company, but continues to fit nicely with the Corporation’s premium content strategy. We’re excited about its future and to start its next chapter.”

EXCLUSIVE, 2:57 PM: Amy Baer will transition out of the post of president and CEO of CBS Films, ending her four-year tenure at the start-up production/distribution company in late October. Baer will immediately join Laurence Mark as producer of the Jon Turteltaub-directed Last Vegas, CBS Films’ Dan Fogelman-scripted comedy that revolves around four best friends in their late 60s who decide to escape retirement and throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them who stayed single. Read More »

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Toronto: Madonna, Parties, And Harvey Weinstein’s New Premiere World Record

Pete Hammond

Harvey Weinstein just set a new air, land and sea world record for attending movie premieres. The Weinstein Company mogul managed to show up at three, count ‘em, three different premiere events in two different countries all on Monday night. “Yeah, this was some fun wasn’t it?” he deadpanned when I asked him about his landmark photo-op achievement.

Although he has been in Toronto this week, Weinstein had to go back to New York City on Monday night to attend the premiere of his company’s romantic comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker and opens nationwide Friday. Then it was right back to Canada and two more North American premieres: Madonna’s directorial outing W.E. and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus – and he made ito to both post-parties at Soho House. On one floor he was dining with Madonna and her exclusive guest list, then he did a walk-through one floor down at the Coriolanus preem. Then it was back up to the third floor, where he huddled with Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde, the stars of yet another Weinstein Company movie, Butter, which premieres here on Tuesday (I saw it in Telluride). I am told they will open the film for a one-week Oscar-qualifying run October 28 and reopen it sometime in early 2012.

As for the Madonna film, which was critically lambasted in Venice, the spin I got from one of its international reps was that it’s really not all that bad. It’s just that it’s not all that good either. There are some nice visual touches, but the material about the romance between King Edward and Wallis Simpson (written by the Material Girl herself) just isn’t all that compelling. My overall impression is that she is to be commended for trying something different with this British period piece, but for someone normally so edgy, this film very much lacks edge. It is undoubtedly an older person’s movie and facing a daunting commercial climb.

Before the film started (a half hour late), Madonna told the hometown crowd, “As you know I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, so I almost feel Canadian. Even when I have been arrested here I had a heck of a time,” she said. At the earlier Monday morning press screening, a paltry crowd of less than 100 reportedly showed up for their first opportunity to see her directing and writing effort. By the time it was finished, less than half remained in the massive 555-seat Scotiabank Theatre. But following the evening screening at the Roy Thomson Hall, the crowd gave Madonna a brief standing ovation before heading for the exits. But it wasn’t the kind of enthusiastic standing applause heard at the Machine Gun Preacher screening just one night earlier. Read More »

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Toronto TOLDJA!: CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:

TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).

Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.

“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”

UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.


UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage. Read More »

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