Two docs joined the Specialty Box Office ranks this weekend doing OK business in theaters, while holdovers grabbed most of the shine. SPC re-released Tim’s Vermeer after a December qualifying run. The film failed to secure a nomination, but nevertheless bowed fairly well in 4 theaters, grossing almost $58K for a $14,461 PSA. Oscilloscope, meanwhile, opened SXSW ’13 doc 12 O’Clock Boys with less robust theatrical numbers, averaging $2,452 in 21 theaters. The film is also available on demand and the outfit noted it “enjoyed the top performing documentary spot on iTunes throughout the entire weekend.”
Magnolia Pictures once again packaged Oscar-nominated shorts, opening the pack of films in 100 theaters. It has, thankfully, had success in the past with the release and hopefully this year will be no different. Hats off to them for doing so. The shorts grossed $330K for a $3,300 average.
Strand Releasing stuck its neck out with the Cannes Un Certain Regard French-language sexually charged feature Stranger By the Lake. The film opened decently last weekend in two locations and held on in its second round in six theaters, grossing just over $34K for a $5,678 average. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
It’s probably fair to say that this weekend’s Specialty newcomers fall on opposite ends of the moral spectrum, at least for traditionalists. Roadside’s Gimme Shelter has received a friendly blessing from the Catholic Church ahead of its significant bow this weekend, something that is very unlikely to be enjoyed by Strand’s Stranger By The Lake, which will open in limited release. The Sundance Film Festival, however, gave it its thumbs up by programming it in its event, which is winding down in Park City. Roadside is also debuting Chile’s entry for Best Foreign Language Oscar consideration, Gloria, with a traditional art house release, while Cinedigm will open doc feature Visitors, beginning its limited run Friday.
Director-writer: Ron Krauss
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, Stephanie Szostak, James Earl Jones, Dascha Polanco, Anne Dowd
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
It’s somewhat rare when mainstream movies find an ally with the Catholic Church, but Gimme Shelter apparently has friends, even in the highest reaches of the Vatican. The drama centers on a pregnant teen who flees her abusive mother in search of her father, but is rejected by him once she finds him. She’s forced to survive on the streets until a compassionate stranger offers “a hopeful alternative.” “We are spending media dollars in both the mainstream and [art house] space on this film,” said Roadside co-president Howard Cohen. “We have gotten support in the Catholic community. Even the Vatican has mentioned the movie [positively] and U.S. bishops have also talked about the movie.” Read More »
Stranger By The Lake won Alain Guiraudie a best director trophy in Cannes‘ Un Certain Regard section in May. In June, the French film met with controversy when its posters were pulled in two Paris suburbs after locals complained they were too shocking. Now, the movie has been banned in Lebanon. The gay-themed pic was to screen at the Beirut Film Festival this coming Saturday, but a security official said the Interior Ministry’s censorship board has deemed it does “not meet its criteria.” A final decision is pending from the minister, but I’m told by sales rep and French distributor, Les Films du Losange, that “A priori, there won’t be a screening. It changes every hour.” The lauded thriller is a sexually explicit tale of summer love and murder. Lebanon bans artistic works believed to incite sectarian strife or undermine morals or state authority; Lebanese law opposes homosexuality. Stranger just played the Toronto and New York festivals and Strand Releasing will put it out later this year in the U.S. Lebanon also bans anything which furthers “Israeli propaganda,” AFP notes. That was evidenced earlier this year when censors banned Lebanese-born director Ziad Doueiri’s acclaimed drama, The Attack, because it fell afoul of 1955 law which bans all contact with Israel and Israelis. The film was partly shot in Tel Aviv with Israeli actors.
This is the first in a planned series of reports on the people, projects and polemics that have folks buzzing in various overseas territories.
Each year following the Cannes Film Festival the French film industry falls into semi-hibernation as execs recover from months of build-up, the box office gives way to Hollywood tentpoles and attention turns to tennis and weeks-long vacations. Some years, it seems like the industry doesn’t even really wake up again until the fall festivals hit. But in this past month since Cannes ended, there’s been quite a bit keeping the industry buzzing. Among the issues are what France’s Oscar entry will be, vagaries at the local ratings board, a renewed push to allow film advertising on television and the fight to preserve the Cultural Exception. France led the charge on the latter, winning in its bid on June 14 to keep the audiovisual business out of a negotiation mandate for trade talks between the U.S. and Europe. This was a fight that got a lot of traction in Cannes with even Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg coming out in favor of the Cultural Exception as a means to maintain the diversity of European cinema.
Meanwhile, the jury that Spielberg chaired in Cannes gave its top honor to a coming-of-age love story between two women, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Many people have posited that Blue will be France’s Oscar entry this year, but I’m told that it will not. It’s generally accepted that films that win the Palme d’Or end up representing their country — the last time a French film won, The Class, it indeed was the submission.
Despite the difficulties of trying to woo some Academy voters with a lesbian love story with explicit sex scenes like Blue, the main reason I’m told it won’t make the cut is because French distributor, Wild Bunch, is not releasing it in time. The Oscar rep selection committee at French film body the CNC requires that a film go out nationally in France before September 30 and Wild Bunch has set an October release. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval calls the rule “stupid” but tells me they believe October is best for the picture. It’s my understanding that Sundance Selects will release Blue unrated later this year in the U.S. Blue is expected to get a French rating that bars only kids under 12 because, Maraval says, “There are only positive values and love in the film, no violence or drugs.” When I asked him if he thought drugs were regarded more damaging than sex by the ratings board at the CNC, he said “Well, I hope sex is less serious than drugs, no?” Read More »
Alain Guiraudie was named best director in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at last month’s Cannes Film Festival for his roundly-lauded thriller L’Inconnu Du Lac (Stranger By The Lake). During the festival, the sexually explicit gay-themed tale of summer love and murder was picked up by Strand Releasing for a U.S. release later this year. But on the eve of its release in France, where expressions of sexuality are de rigueur and where gay marriage was recently legalized, the film’s advertising (left) proved too much for some. In the Parisian suburbs of Versailles and Saint-Cloud, a series of promotional posters was pulled at the request of the individual town halls, ad agency JC Decaux told AFP. The mayor’s office in Saint-Cloud said it had been “harassed” by phone calls and emails about the poster since it went up last week. Versailles says it did not contact JC Decaux, but a rep told French media it was understandable that the image “could shock people who find themselves disarmed by posters in the street that address sexuality.”
Related: Hammond On Cannes: Spielberg And Jury Award France’s Sizzling, Sexy And First Gay Palme d’Or Winner; Is Oscar Next?
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