Filmmaker James Moll (Foo Fighters: Back And Forth) is teaming with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance on a new feature-length documentary about twentysomething farmers and ranchers. The award-winning documentarian announced the project at SXSW through his Allentown Productions banner. The currently untitled docu will profile young agricultural pros “[and] the latest farming practices and technologies that are changing and improving the landscape of modern agriculture”. Moll has won an Oscar, two Emmys, and a Grammy for his documentary and music video work. His feature docu The Last Days was executive produced by Steven Spielberg, who also advised Moll on his 2004 Democratic National Convention John Kerry short A Remarkable Promise.
Danny Boyle made his first trip to SXSW to tease footage from his psychological thriller Trance, which opens via Fox Searchlight April 5. But in the packed Vimeo theater on Saturday, Boyle raised eyebrows by screening a pivotal last-act sequence that seemed to give away the film’s finale. The shocked audience reaction to the potential spoiler was so palpable it was the first thing moderator David Carr mentioned when the lights came up, and I hear the studio was taking pains to manage the unexpected situation following the event. “That’s not the exact ending”, Boyle insisted to Deadline following his spoilery faux pas. “It’s near the end but it’s not the exact ending, no. We showed it because there’s no point in coming to SXSW without showing something dynamic. So you show them a bit of your proper filmmaking”. Boyle says he would have preferred to screen the entire film at SXSW but distribution politics made things tricky. “Pathe distribute in the UK and France because they were the ones who gave us money to do Slumdog, so we stayed loyal to them in those two territories”, he said. (Trance world premieres in London on March 19.)
UPDATE, 5:35 PM: It’s official: Drafthouse Films and Snoot Entertainment have confirmed their acquisition of the midnight pic Cheap Thrills, which will receive a theatrical and VOD release. The deal kicked off sales at SXSW 2013, which picked up today when another late night selection, Haunters, went to IFC Midnight. The official Cheap Thrills announcement appears below Deadline’s original exclusive.
EXCLUSIVE, SUNDAY PM: The first deal of SXSW 2013 closed today as Drafthouse Films and Snoot Entertainment took theatrical, home vid and VOD rights to E.L. Katz’s midnight selection Cheap Thrills. Pat Healy, David Koechner, Sara Paxton, and Ethan Embry star in the twisted comedy thriller about a working class family man tempted by a rich couple into a series of escalating bets. Bidding wars are rare at the Austin fest, but competition broke out late Friday night after the film’s premiere where audience and critical enthusiasm was high. I hear Magnolia, Anchor Bay, and IFC were also in the running at various stages with some eager to buy right away. But in stark contrast to Sundance, where auctions carry on into the wee hours of the night and nobody sleeps, this deal took all of Saturday to unfold.
EXCLUSIVE: The team behind Sundance pic Filly Brown and SXSW entry Snap are reuniting with actress Gina Rodriguez on Marching Banda. Rodriguez, who played the eponymous lead in the hip-hop flavored Filly Brown, will star as a single mother of a high school trumpet player in the Cima Productions pic. When the boy’s estranged musician father turns up, he bonds with his son as he begins teaching traditional Mexican regional music to the school’s marching band. Marching Banda is set for a late summer start with Filly Brown co-director Youssef Delara helming. Amir Delara, Victor Teran and Delara will produce for their Cima Productions banner.
Sunday night at SXSW Lionsgate finally began its long campaign to build You’re Next into a potential late summer hit. Adam Wingard’s slasher pic was the toast of the 2011 Toronto Midnight Madness line-up (see Mike Fleming’s report on its hot sale to Lionsgate here). But a few months later Lionsgate merged with Summit and the indie horror got bumped down the priority line. A year after inking the deal, the studio set the family home invasion pic for August 2013 — a two year delay that could have been (and still might be) the kiss of death to all the buzz shored up from its handful of film festival screenings.
Harmony Korine‘s Day-Glo crime thriller Spring Breakers had its U.S. premiere Sunday night at SXSW, where stars Selena Gomez, James Franco, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine (minus Vanessa Hudgens) joined their director onstage for a Q&A. “I’d been collecting Spring Break imagery for a couple of years from fraternity sites and co-ed pornography for paintings and artwork”, said Korine, who wrote and directed the pic about college girls who commit robbery to finance their dream Spring Break only to become entangled in the dangerous lifestyle of a Floridian thug named Alien (Franco). “Here were all these hypersexualized, hyperviolent subjects with childlike details — nail polish, bags, stuff like that. So I imagined girls on a beach in bikinis robbing fat tourists”.
Back at SXSW to premiere his 14th feature, Drinking Buddies writer-director Joe Swanberg brought something new to the festival: A movie with name stars, a polished look, and mainstream sales potential. The relationship comedy stars Tron: Legacy‘s Olivia Wilde and New Girl‘s Jake Johnson as a pair of Chicagoan craft brewery co-workers whose platonic friendship veers toward flirtation. Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick co-star as their respective significant others in the pic which marks Swanberg’s first modestly-budgeted (vs. micro-budgeted) feature.
Drinking Buddies has a more traditional look than Swanberg’s previous mumblecore releases thanks to Beasts Of The Southern Wild DP Ben Richardson. It was entirely improvised as the cast worked from Swanberg’s outline. “Putting dialogue in somebody else’s mouth has always seemed strange to me. The writing process shifted to the editing, so that’s when the script gets written”, Swanberg explained after Saturday’s premiere.
Things got a little too warm when Al Gore took to the stage at the SXSW Interactive festival Saturday to talk about The Future — that is, his new book subtitled Six Drivers Of Global Change as well as …
SXSW isn’t a sales-dominant fest, but two years ago Universal’s Bridesmaids debut here paid off when the Kristen Wiig pic became a $288 million global box office hit. Now studios with spring openers and genre fare are hoping SXSW can be a similar launching pad for strong word of mouth. Here are the mainstream pics hoping to squeeze hot buzz out of SXSW:
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.):
Director: Don Scardino, Story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Cast: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi. Warner Bros opens the Steve Carell – Jim Carrey magician comedy nationwide next week but the mixed critical reaction after its SXSW opening night premiere won’t help.
Evil Dead (Screen Gems):
Director/Screenwriter: Fede Alvarez, Screenwriter: Rodo Sayagues. Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore. Producer Sam Raimi’s fingerprints have been all over this quasi-remake, which was the hottest ticket in town on Day One. Raimi didn’t make the trip to Austin to stump for Evil Dead with director Fede Alvarez and fellow producer Bruce Campbell — he was busy opening Disney’s Oz: The Great And Powerful — but the gory R-rated remake made an impression on the late night genre crowd.
Related: Joss Whedon Q&A On Eve Of SXSW
EXCLUSIVE: In 2012, Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, Look) made Reality Show, a Showtime mockumentary series produced by Sony International Television about a reality TV producer (Rifkin) and the unwitting family starring in his latest ratings-grabber. While editing it for broadcast he saw the potential in recutting the eight-episode run down to a 90-minute movie with a dramatically darker tone and viewing experience. And with no studio brass telling him not to, that’s what he did. The result is Reality Show: The Film, an opening night selection of SXSW.
Related: Joss Whedon Q&A On Eve Of SXSW
Image Entertainment has taken all U.S. rights including home entertainment and digital on Evidence, a thriller starring Stephen Moyer (True Blood) and Radha Mitchell (Red Widow). The deal closed yesterday on the eve of …
The SXSW Film Festival officially begins Friday, but early deals were brewing ahead of the festivities. Digital distribution specialist GoDigital has nabbed North American rights to The Punk Syndrome, a docu about a Finnish band comprised of four mentally handicapped musicians that makes its stateside debut Tuesday in Austin. (Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät will play a live show at SXSW on March 15.) “This is a documentary unlike any we’ve seen, telling a story unlike anything we’ve heard”, said GoDigital CEO Logan Mulvey of director Jukka Kärkkainen’s pic, which will hit VOD and digital distribution this summer.
THURSDAY PM: Joss Whedon is making a much anticipated appearance at SXSW to present his indie modern retelling of the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing. That’s the microbudgeted pic he shot in 12 days in secret under his Bellwether Pictures banner while working on Marvel‘s The Avengers. Picked up after its Toronto debut, the film screens in Austin with a panel on Saturday in front of his rabid fanbase – then hits theaters June 7 via Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions. (The film releases June 14 in the UK via Kaleidoscope, which is also handling international sales.)
Whedon recently wrapped his pilot for Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. series and is set to work on The Avengers 2 for a 2015 release. He’s also contracted for three years as a creative consultant to Marvel, helping studio head Kevin Feige develop the sprawling superhero universe. Whedon admits the Marvel commitments may not leave time anymore for passion projects like Much Ado because he’s “in constant danger of burning out”. He also talks to Deadline’s Jen Yamato and contributor Joe Utichi about what could have been – Wonder Woman, Star Wars – and what might still be for The Hulk:
DEADLINE: Most directors helming a giant summer blockbuster wouldn’t choose to use their 2-week break to make a small Shakespeare film.
WHEDON: Making The Avengers was very important to me, but it was also extremely arduous. I missed my friends and I missed my home, so I decided to throw them all on camera which is the only way I seem to know to relate to people. But I was blissfully happy when we were shooting Much Ado About Nothing – and it was actually one week and three weekends – and then I went back to cutting Avengers much better. I was in the very early process – my first assembly was very long. When I came back from Much Ado, without any rancor or confusion, I was able to cut the film down to length and readily focus on the things that mattered. I think I would have come to that one way or another, but Much Ado sped it up. Here I was making absolute giddy ridiculous art with no expectations, and nothing but joy – and wishing that my neighbors’ dogs would shut up.