Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Interior. Leather Bar.’, ‘Beyond Outrage’, ‘August: Osage County’, ‘The Invisible Woman’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)The first weekend of 2014 will usher in some new specialty releases and see the expansion of some high-profile late-2013 rollouts. Interior. Leather Bar., Travis Mathews and James Franco’s interpretation of the lost 40 minutes of 1980 feature Cruising, will begin a limited run that will likely find a core though limited audience given its leather sex bar backdrop. Magnolia Pictures will open the follow-up to Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage with Beyond Outrage, which had an ultra-VOD run beginning in late November. Late-December titles August: Osage County and The Invisible Woman will have small expansions this weekend on their way to wider release in the coming weeks. Also opening this weekend are crime drama The Best Offer from IFC Films, In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons In Life With Saul Leiter from mTuckman Media and Tribeca Film’s thriller Open Grave.

interior1Interior. Leather Bar.
Directors: Travis Mathews, James Franco
Writer: Travis Mathews (screenplay)
Cast: Val Lauren, Christian Patrick, James Franco, Brenden Gregory, Brad Roberge, Robbie Acklen, Osbaldo Daniel Alvarez

Filmmaker Travis Mathews first feature I Want Your Love was playing festivals and caught the eye of James Franco, who asked to collaborate on a project an idea he had been considering. “James wanted to revisit (William Friedkin’s Cruising starring Al Pacino) in some capacity, and he wanted to explore sex as a storytelling tool,” said Mathews. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’, ‘Oldboy’, ‘The Punk Singer’

By | Wednesday November 27, 2013 @ 8:11pm PST

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)There’s a parade in New York that might get weathered out. Disney’s Frozen is icing up across the country and even TWC’s Philomena is nearly wide. Good, here are some alternatives. TWC likely has this weekend’s obvious choice among the Specialties with film festival favorite Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. By the way, this won’t be the last film-going aficionados will see of the South African icon. South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane’s A Letter To Nelson Mandela debuted at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), the world’s biggest doc fest. Just saying — no doubt there will be a lot said about one of the biggest historical figures in recent decades. Also this weekend, FilmDistrict is launching Oldboy, the American remake courtesy of Spike Lee. Originally made in movie form by Korean director Park Chan-wook (2003) this Oldboy stars a good plethora of starrage from Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson and more. On the doc front, IFC Films will open a SXSW premiere, The Punk Singer in limited release theatrically in NYC and LA (along with that ever elusive VOD/digital). The distributor says it expects it to do well across all platforms.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedommandela
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer: William Nicholson
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Simo Mogwaza
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

South Africa’s maverick anti-Apartheid leader turned President Nelson Mandela has been the focus of worldwide reverence for years and it has more recently gone into full throttle as the now 95 year-old leader’s health deteriorates. Based on the 1994 autobiography of the same name, the Toronto/Mill Valley/Hamptons/Chicago/AFI Fest (and more) bio-drama Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom chronicles the near saintly figure’s journey from his childhood in rural South Africa, activism and long imprisonment on Robben Island through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Way, Way Back,’ Others Counter Fourth Of July Tentpoles

By | Wednesday July 3, 2013 @ 7:41pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
While the masses will head to the likes of Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger this Fourth of July weekend, some who beat to a different drum will seek new specialty films taking a break from the heat and the BBQs. Fox Searchlight is opening The Way, Way Back with Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, probably the weekend’s highest-profile limited-run title. Millennium Films will debut Stuck In Love this weekend. The filmmaker with Kristen Bell, Jennifer Connelly as well as a surprising addition the cast. The filmmaker lured his childhood hero, author Stephen King to join the project after relaying a childhood story. First Run’s A Girl And A Gun is one of the weekend’s nonfiction offerings, spotlighting guns and women. Cohen Media Group’s Just Like A Woman is the first U.S. production of France-born filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb. And Magnolia’s Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me spotlights ’70s band Big Star. Its release will mirror a slew of special events.

The Way, Way Back
Directors-writers: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Cast: Steve Carell, AnnaSophia Robb, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Peet
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Producer Kevin Walsh had been a fan of The Way, Way Back script since it first appeared on the Black List. Walsh met co-writer/co-director Jim Rash and began putting together a plan for the project in 2010. He had been looking for a project that was under $5 million. “The timing was great,” said Walsh. “We spent a year attaching people and were able to get [Steve] Carell. That propelled us when he became attached.” Initially, production was set for North Carolina but moved to south of Boston to accommodate Carell. The shoot ran pretty smoothly minus some bumps. Photography took place at a water park where regular customers were present. “We couldn’t afford to close the whole thing,” noted Walsh. “At one point Sam Rockwell used the PA system for one scene and didn’t realize his voice was being broadcast throughout the whole park. The owner of the park ran over and grabbed the mic from him.” The production also battled rain, including torrential downpours in the last eight hours of the shoot. “We joked that it was Nat and Jim’s baptism,” said Walsh.

Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’, ‘Blancanieves’, ‘Mental’, ‘Room 237′, ‘Wrong’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Ryan Gosling teams up with director Derek Cianfrance in their firstSpecialty Box Office collaboration since Blue Valentine. Focus Features will open The Place Beyond The Pines in a traditional roll out, with expectations that its stars will be as strong a draw as its filmmaking prowess. Cohen Media Group’s Blancanieves will likely be the highest profile silent film (perhaps the only one?) to hit the big screen since Oscar powerhouse The Artist. Australian-born P.J. Hogan reunites with Toni Colette for Mental, their first collaboration since Muriel’s Wedding helped launch both of their careers. IFC Films’ long-time exec Ryan Werner gives the lowdown on his final release with the distributor, Room 237. Werner leaves IFC Films this week. And Drafthouse Films will open Wrong, which it picked up out of Sundance last year.

The Place Beyond The Pines
Director-Writer: Derek Cianfrance
Co-Writers: Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Craig Van Hook
Distributor: Focus Features

Filmmaker Derek Cianfrance directed Ryan Gosling in 2010 drama Blue Valentine, which scored well at the box office with a domestic take of just over $9.7 million (and an Oscar nomination for co-star Michelle Williams). This time around, he adds Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes to the mix. The film centers on a motorcycle stunt rider turned outlaw who robs banks in order to provide for the son he didn’t know he had, but runs afoul from an ambitious rookie cop. “It’s filmed by a filmmaker. He’s the deal,” said Focus chief James Schamus. “He really brought back the kind of ambition you saw with filmmakers from the 70s. It doesn’t have to be a big budget movie for it to be ambitious.” Focus picked up the film out of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. To spread the word, Focus sent Cianfrance on an extensive promotional tour. “It is publicity, but he’s been amazing. Some directors don’t enjoy talking about their work, but he’s so infectious,” noted Schamus. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Sapphires,’ ‘Gimme The Loot,’ ‘Hunky Dory,’ ‘Come Out And Play,’ ‘Starbuck,’ ‘New World’

By | Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 11:02pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Only a handful of new specialty movies opened during the early part of 2013, but spring has brought an onslaught of indies and foreign titles. The Weinstein Company opens the Cannes debut The Sapphires this weekend, while two titles from last year’s SXSW, Hunky Dory starring Minnie Driver and Gimme The Loot from Sundance Selects, bow in select locations. Thriller Come Out And Play makes its way to theaters after a very unconventional production. Paladin’s My Brother The Devil enjoyed the support of Sundance but faced riots during its filming in London. Entertainment One brings a French-Canadian comedy that has already landed an English-language remake deal, and Well Go USA will launch New World, hoping once again to capitalize on past successes with Korean thrillers.

The Sapphires
Director: Wayne Blair
Writers: Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

TWC picked up the biographical comedy/drama ahead of its Cannes Film Festival premiere in the Official Selection last year, picking up U.S. rights and other territories for low seven figures. “It’s a really, really strong film with great performances,” said TWC president of theatrical distribution & home entertainment Erik Lomis. “Chris O Dowd is terrific”, said Lomis. Set against a backdrop of racial strife in Australia in the late ’60s, the film centers on four Australian Aboriginal girls who form a group and head out to entertain U.S. troops in Vietnam, escaping the tensions and limitations of their rural community. “It plays well to an audience and hopefully will crack the formula,” said Lomis. “It’s not a four-quadrant movie, but it’s has appeal across the spectrum. It’s an audience pleaser and it has scored through the roof.”

TWC tested the feature in New York and in the Midwest where Lomis said audiences in both regions responded well. “The trick is getting them in,” he noted. “We’re hoping word-of-mouth will propel its theatrical run.” The Sapphires will have a traditional first weekend opening in New York and LA, playing at two locations in each city before expanding.
Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Spring Breakers’, ‘Upside Down’, ‘Reality’, ‘Ginger & Rosa’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

A24 Films will release two of its brood this weekend including Harmony Korine’s anticipated Selena Gomez/Vanessa Hudgens/James Franco starrer Spring Breakers, which had its U.S. debut this past week at the SXSW Film Festival. The new distribution company will also roll out Ginger & Rosa, although it sees the titles as appealing to different audiences. Also in this weekend’s specialty slate is Millennium Films’ Kirsten Dunst starrer Upside Down, which may had the largest number of opening cities among the limited release debuts, though it will still be under a dozen runs. And Oscilloscope’s Reality has a unique story of its own, with a convicted prisoner as a star — filmmaker Matteo Garone made an arrangement with Italy’s prison system.

Spring Breakers
Director-writer: Harmony Korine
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco, Rachel Korine
Distributor: A24 Films

Spring Breakers had a lively U.S. debut at the SXSW Film Festival ahead of its theatrical run which begins this week. Described as the “most accessible” of veteran indie director Harmony Korine’s career to date by some festival-goers, the title debuted in Venice and Toronto last Fall. Newcomer distributor A24 Films became involved with the feature in November. “Spring Breakers is, initially, for a younger audience and, frankly, anyone looking for something a little different,” noted A24′s David Fenkel. The crime-comedy centers on four college girls who end up in jail after robbing a restaurant to finance their spring break vacation, but find themselves bailed out by a drug-and-weapons heavy who wants them to do some more dirty work. Read More »

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Specialty Preview: ‘Emperor,’ ‘The Silence,’ ‘Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey’, ‘ABCs Of Death’, ‘Beyond The Hills’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Roadside Attractions will open its Matthew Fox-Tommy Lee Jones starrer Emperor in more than 200 theaters this weekend, making it the largest rollout among new specialty releases. The distributor will follow the previously successful pattern it followed for previous releases Arbitrage and Friends With Kids, although the strategy is not without risk. Cinedigm will attempt to cash in on its doc Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which chronicles the rise to fame of a YouTube star into the rock mainstream. Also joining the limited release fray this weekend are two films shot overseas, including Romania’s Beyond The Hills and Germany’s thriller The Silence. And Magnolia genre label Magnet Releasing will open The ABCs Of Death, which it financed. The film shot in over a dozen locations around the world.

Emperor
Director: Peter Webber
Writers: Vera Blasi, David Klass, Shiro Okamoto
Cast: Matthew Fox, Colin Moy, Tommy Lee Jones, Kaori Momoi, Takataro Kataoka
Distributor: Roadside Attractions

Roadside Attractions first saw Emperor last summer ahead of its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. It centers on U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Jones) who must decide what to do with Japan’s wartime monarch, Hirohito. “People don’t know he was considered a potential war criminal,” noted Roadside chief Howard Cohen. “The Nuremberg Trials are a very well-known post-war event [in Europe], but the end of the war in Japan is less known.” Similarly to Roadside’s recent midsize rollouts, Emperor will open in 259 theaters this weekend. Read More »

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Specialty Preview: ‘Stoker’, ‘War Witch’, ‘A Place At The Table’, ‘Genius On Hold’, ‘The End Of Love’

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 9:06pm PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

The first weekend after Oscars brings a variety of specialty films making their U.S. theatrical debuts. South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook‘s first English-language thriller Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman, hopes to lure Park fans and new converts, while Tribeca Film hopes to draw audiences for its award winning and Oscar-nominated film War Witch. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and Jeff Bridges are just two of the marquee names behind hunger documentary A Place At The Table, which Magnolia Pictures rolls out Friday. Fellow doc Genius On Hold looks at a troubled father-son relationship (one a telecommunications genius, the other a jewel thief) in what may be a precursor to a bigger narrative feature down the road. Variance Films also taps the father-son relationship in the drama The End Of Love.

Stoker
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writers: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Wentworth Miller penned the screenplay for Stoker under a pseudonym, which eventually made its way to producer Michael Costigan and his colleagues. The story centers on India, whose mysterious Uncle Charlie comes to live with her and her unstable mother following the death of her father. India suspects that her charming uncle has ulterior motives although she also becomes increasingly infatuated with him. “We wondered whether [Park Chan-wook] would read Hollywood scripts as did Searchlight,” Costigan said of the Korean-based filmmaker. “So we thought, ‘let’s give it a shot’. Fortunately his group in the U.S. liked it and he wanted to talk about it. And not only did he want to talk, he started pitching ideas.” Read More »

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Specialty Box Office Preview: ‘Bless Me, Ultima’, ‘Inescapable’, ‘Rubberneck’, ‘Red Flag’, ‘Kai Po Che’

By | Thursday February 21, 2013 @ 9:12pm PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Producer Mark Johnson returned to New Mexico where he spent time with Breaking Bad for his latest, Bless Me, Ultima. The coming-of-age story is a staple in the Mexican-American community and beyond and will roll out on 263 screens. Canadian director Ruba Nadda’s latest, Inescapable with Alexander Siddig, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei had to change production locations following the chaos of the Arab Spring. Actor-director Alex Karpovsky took on two productions somewhat simultaneously and distributor Tribeca Film is opting for a double-bill rollout in New York. And this weekend’s second biggest specialty release, Kai Po Che from UTV Communications will take the Indian-set story to 110 theaters this weekend.

Bless Me, Ultima
Director-writer: Carl Franklin
Writer: Rudolfo Anaya (novel)
Cast: Luke Ganalon, Joseph A. Garcia, Miriam Colon
Distributor: Arenas Entertainment

Oscar-winning producer Mark Johnson first came on board Bless Me, Ultima a half-decade ago after a meeting at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Executive producer Christy Walton financed the feature, which is based on a book of the same title. “I had not heard of the book, though it is considered a cornerstone of Chicano literature and its required reading in many public schools,” noted Johnson. “I immediately read it. I’m a sucker for coming of age stories, but this is more of a coming of age spiritual story. The main character is trying to understand why people do evil things. It’s about the nature of the world.” 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.

No
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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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Playroom’, ‘Lore’; Plus ‘Amour’, ‘Quartet’ Expand

By | Friday February 8, 2013 @ 1:01am PST

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Specialty film newcomers remain sparse this weekend, while two stalwart limited-release box office stars — Amour and Quartet — will continue their expansions. Golden Globe-nominated (for The Sessions) John Hawkes stars in The Playroom with Jonathan Brooks, Alexandra Doke and Olivia Harris. The story centers on four children who take to their attic hideaway and make up a fantastic story, while downstairs their parents weave a drunken intrigue of their own. Hawkes learned of his nomination while making this movie which has been available via iTunes. And war thriller Lore takes a look at the Holocaust through a unique story of about a girl who leads her siblings on a journey of “truth” about their parents’ beliefs.

The Playroom
Director: Julia Dyer
Writer: Gretchen Dyer
Cast: John Hawkes, Molly Parker, Olivia Harris, Jonathan Brooks, Cody Linley
Theatrical Distributor: Freestyle Releasing

All hailing from the same family, The Playroom producer Stephen Dyer, director Julia Dyer and writer Gretchen Dyer were the collective force behind the feature that endured multiple setbacks including health problems that lead to the death of Gretchen Dyer in 2009. Originally slated to star, Hayden Panattiere exited. “But something we had was John [Hawkes],” said Stephen Dyer. “This was before [his Oscar-nominated role in] Winter’s Bone, and Julia had a passion to have this made for Gretchen.” The project received a shot in the arm when the filmmaking team found “a perfect ’70s house” as its main location, which gave the production some freedom to concentrate on other areas of development. “It was a house we played in in the ’70s,” said Dyer. “Somehow the light went on in Julia’s head and we re-worked the script a bit to fit the architecture of the house.”  Read More »

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Specialty Box Office Preview: ‘The Gatekeepers’, ‘Sound City’, ‘Koch’

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 6:33pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Documentaries dominate this weekend’s new specialty offerings including Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s feature directorial debut Sound City, which premiered at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Grohl has partnered with various companies and groups for traditional and non-traditional rollouts for the film, which will also screen at SXSW in March. Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers looks inside Israel’s intelligence agency, Shin Bet. The film gripped audiences at the Jerusalem International Film Festival where it debuted, followed by Telluride and the New York Film Festival last fall. And Hamptons International Film Festival premiere, Koch, will bow in New York — naturally. It’s about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, who died early this morning in New York.

The Gatekeepers
Director: Dror Moreh
Subjects: Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Realizing its potential, producer Philippa Kowarsky jumped on the Oscar-nominated The Gatekeepers from the outset. She was “taken by how candid” the former heads of Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, were and “how their thoughts did not conform with the obvious.” Kowarsky added, “They were not predictable. It got me thinking. I was hoping we could get others to feel the same.” While the subjects seemed forthcoming, the project’s financial makeup posed challenges. It received a mixture of Israeli and European financing plus French-speaking Canadian television. Global partners, however, had agendas that did not always align with director Dror Moreh’s goals. “I think that one of Dror’s greatest achievements is his decision-making during the long editing process,” she added, suggesting Moreh didn’t let the financiers pressure him on the content. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Knife Fight,’ ‘John Dies At The End’, ‘Happy People’, ‘Yossi,’

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

A sprinkling of familiar actors appear in this weekend’s new specialty releases. A fan of director Don Coscarelli’s work, Paul Giamatti joined the filmmaker’s latest, John Dies At The End. Rob Lowe stars as a political strategist who must confront his career path in Knife Fight. A star in the non-fiction world, Werner Herzog, returns to the big screen with a look at a Siberian community in Happy People: A Year In The Taiga. And one of Israel’s biggest directors, Eytan Fox, returns Stateside with a sequel to his 2002 feature Yossi & Jagger titled simply Yossi.

Knife Fight
Director, co-writer: Bill Guttentag
Co-writer: Chris Lehane
Cast: Rob Lowe, Jamie Chung, Julie Bowen, Jennifer Morrison, Carrie-Anne Moss
Distributor: IFC Films

IFC Films picked up rights to Knife Fight after it debuted last year at the Tribeca Film Festival. The distributor kept its festival run limited, following up Tribeca only with the Stockholm International Film Festival in November. “We are marketing the film as a smart political satire,” said IFC Films’ Ryan Werner. “Rob Lowe has been very supportive in doing press and also promoting the film for the VOD component of the release.” The feature centers on a political strategist who is juggling three clients and confronts whether or not to take the high road as the ugly side of his work begins to take its toll. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office Preview: Bruno Dumont’s ‘Hors Satan’, ‘Luv’

By | Thursday January 17, 2013 @ 10:46pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The third full weekend of January is relatively quiet for newcomers in the specialty market. Two features are among the titles hitting a limited number of theaters including New Yorker Films’ Cannes 2011 title Hors Satan by French filmmaker Bruno Dumont. The distributor admitted that finding exhibitors was a challenge and illustrated how art house cinema has changed. Also headed to theaters is Sheldon Candis’ Luv via Indomina which is partnering with AMC Independent for its limited theatrical run.

Aside from those newcomers, the Weinstein Company is capitalizing on its eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director for Silver Linings Playbook this weekend. TWC’s decision to open more slowly than originally planned for David O. Russell’s film appears to have paid off. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office Preview: ‘Quartet’, ‘Struck By Lightning’, ‘Baytown Outlaws’, ‘Let My People Go!’

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 8:08pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

This weekend’s roundup of specialty offerings includes three feature newcomers and one filmmaker’s sophomore effort. Dustin Hoffman’s feature directing debut Quartet will launch its regular theatrical run in limited release following a short awards-qualifying run last month. Barry Battles is taking his Black List script (co-written with Griffin Hood) The Baytown Outlaws to theaters with a cast that boasts Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria, while French-born filmmaker Mikael Buch brings to U.S. theaters his comedy Let My People Go! from a script co-written by César-nominated filmmaker Christoph Honoré. And Saved! director Brian Dannelly returns to the big screen with Struck By Lightning, written by and starring Glee‘s Chris Colfer.

Quartet
Director: Dustin Hoffman
Writer: Ronald Harwood
Cast: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

TWC picked up Dustin Hoffman‘s movie last spring for a “moderate price,” noted the company’s president of theatrical distribution Erik Lomis. It centers on a home for retired opera singers whose annual concert is disrupted by the arrival of an eternal diva — also the ex-wife of a resident. “We think of [Dustin Hoffman] as such an icon that it’s funny to think of him debuting anything,” said Lomis who noted TWC will, unsurprisingly, target a mature audience. Lomis noted that Hoffman’s wife encouraged him to officially take on the director role for the first time in his five decade-plus career. “He liked this material,” said Lomis. “It’s a compelling story about how you’re not too old to do what you do or to fall in love. It appeals to mature audience but it’s heart-lifting and inspirational for younger audiences as well.”
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Specialty Preview: ‘The Impossible’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ Hope To Gain Momentum

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The first weekend of 2013 has barely any new specialty releases. One exception is Magnolia Pictures’ action-thriller A Dark Truthdirected by Damian Lee and starring Andy Garcia, Kim Coates and Deborah Kara Unger, will have a limited opening in Miami. Post-holiday attention on limited releases will focus on holdovers and expansions, including Lionsgate-Summit’s The Impossible, Focus Features’ Promised Land and Hyde Park On Hudson, and The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook, and others.

The Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor starrer The Impossible had a relatively meager start, averaging $8,250 in 15 locations two weekends ago, but it managed a rare feat last weekend increasing its average to $12,300 in the same 15 theaters. The film about a family caught in the South Asian tsumami has grossed an additional $145,721 in the same cinemas Monday through Wednesday ahead of its hefty expansion into 572 locations beginning Friday. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Promised Land’, ‘West Of Memphis’, ‘Allegiance’, ‘Tabu’

By | Friday December 28, 2012 @ 5:32pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant collaborate on their third project together, Promised Land, headlining the holiday weekend’s specialty releases and the final round of newcomers for 2012.  Van Sant came in as director after Damon tapped him to spearhead the film, which is set in small town Pennsylvania. Also headed to theaters is Sony Pictures ClassicsWest Of Memphis, the latest film centered on the so-called Memphis Three who many believe were wrongly convicted of a grisly murder in a notorious miscarriage of justice. The military takes the spotlight in Allegiance with Aidan Quinn and Bow Wow, which opens via XLrator Media and Adopt Films opens its foreign-language Berlin ’12 pick-up Tabu.

Promised Land
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writers: John Krasinski, Matt Damon, Dave Eggers (story)
Cast: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt
Distributor: Focus Features

Focus Features came on board with Promised Land after the script was completed in partnership with Participant Media. The story moved from an Alaska mining operation backdrop to a small town in Pennsylvania, which must choose whether to allow an energy company to extract natural gas through the controversial method popularly known as “fracking.” Matt Damon originally was set to direct the film but his schedule made it impossible. He reached out to Gus Van Sant with whom he worked with on Good Will Hunting and Gerry to take on the project. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘On The Road,’ ‘Amour,’ ‘The Impossible,’ ‘Not Fade Away’

By | Thursday December 20, 2012 @ 4:12pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Two Cannes titles finally make it to theaters this holiday weekend in the specialty arena. Palme d’Or winner Amour has picked up critical accolades although its tough subject matter may prove a challenge for audiences. IFC Films’ On The Road has some star wattage from Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Garrett Hedlund in the screen version of the 20th century American classic. Also taking on some tough subject matter is Toronto’s The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor based on a true story of survival during the 2004 tsunami. And Not Fade Away will roll out under the Paramount Vantage label after an extensive run at festivals and word-of-mouth screenings.

On The Road
Director: Walter Salles
Writers: Jose Rivera (screenplay), Jack Kerouac (novel)
Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge, Amy Adams
Distributor: IFC Films

This one has been a long time coming. Francis Ford Coppola first picked up rights to the On The Road novel in 1979 and served as executive producer on the film after asking Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles to take on the project. Salles spent a good deal of time researching the period known popularly as the Beat Generation and even filmed a documentary about On The Road before undertaking the feature. Kirsten Dunst was the first to come on board a number of years ago and Kristen Stewart actually first joined before undertaking her first Twilight Saga installment. Into The Wild director Sean Penn suggested her. The feature screened this year at the Cannes Film Festival, but IFC Films picked up the title prior to its debut there.  Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Any Day Now’, ‘Yelling To The Sky’, ‘Save The Date’, ‘Let Fury Have The Hour’

By | Thursday December 13, 2012 @ 5:13pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

A slew of indie actors have movies opening in the specialty arena this weekend. Alan Cumming has won festival raves for his role in Music Box Films’ Any Day Now. The film actually has a more ambitious initial rollout than most among its peers. Zoë Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe star in Yelling To The Sky, Victoria Mahoney’s personal story of growing up in a rough neighborhood. Also hitting theaters in limited release this weekend is IFC Films’ Save The Date, which assembled its production team in what is best described as “six degrees of separation” (or less). And Let Fury Have The Hour is a Tribeca Film Festival debut that took years to  ake that only finished once festivals came knocking.

Any Day Now
Director-writer: Travis Fine
Writer: George Arthur Bloom (original)
Cast: Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Isaac Leyva, Frances Fisher
Distributor: Music Box Films

Bloom wrote the original script about a gay couple that fights a biased legal system to retain custody of an abandoned special needs teen. “The script sat on his desk for 25 years,” said writer-director and co-producer Travis Fine. A music supervisor turned Fine onto the script and spoke with Bloom about taking it on. “George allowed me to give my perspective and allowed me to create the story I wanted to tell,” Fine added. “He said please be kind and gentle, but I think he’s pleased.” Fine cold-called actor Alan Cumming’s agent in New York who pitched the actor along with his manager. Cumming committed almost immediately. After he came on board, the other acting team easily came together. Read More »

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