The Edge Of Tomorrow and The Fault In Our Stars may reign supreme among new theatrical offerings this weekend, but a crowded pack of specialty newcomers will nip at their heels including documentaries, thrillers and more. Ti West’s The Sacrament will open, following up on 2011 feature The Innkeepers, while A24 bows its Sundance feature Obvious Child, Drafthouse Films opens Borgman and FilmBuff gets theatrical with Burt’s Buzz. Radius-TWC hopes to repeat its box office and award-winning triumph 20 Feet From Stardom with docu Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon. HBO Documentary will open its Sundance winner The Case Against 8 in theaters ahead of its small-screen debut later this month. Emerging Pictures is launching the weekend’s foreign-language newcomer Dormant Beauty and Well Go USA and MPI will bow Rigor Mortis and Willow Creek in limited runs beginning tomorrow.
Filmmaker Ti West was looking to do something different from his previous feature, The Innkeepers, which opened in 2011. The thriller follows a news team in pursuit of a man as he travels to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering Eden Parish and meeting the community’s leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that things are not quite as they appear. “I wanted to something much more confronting and horrific,” said West, speaking from New Mexico where he’s working on his next project, the Western A Valley Of Violence. “I wanted to use a real event as the framework of the story and media brand.” The real event West is referring to is Jonestown, the infamous People’s Temple in Guyana headed by Jim Jones in which more than 900 people committed mass suicide in 1978. “I think it’s misunderstood. People just think about the mass [deaths] at People’s Temple,” said West. “[But] I think the circumstances are relevant today, but we’re desensitized to the violence because of the media.” West put together financing quickly and went right to location in Georgia. “I got the movie made over a treatment really,” said West. “I wrote the script with people in mind and wrote it to their strengths. At the end of the day we didn’t do much improvisation, but we were making a movie that wasn’t easy.” West said the production had a lot of “moving parts” so collaboration on the 18-day shoot was prohibitive “[Producer Eli Roth] gave me final cut and the final decision on casting,” added West. The Sacrament premiered at Venice and Toronto and is the fifth title he’s released via Magnolia. “It’s cool to have a company I get along with very well,” he said. “I get the feeling sometimes that we’re in this together which is great to have as an independent filmmaker.” The company will open Sacrament at Cinema Village in New York and The Carlton in Toronto. It will head to Charlotte, NC on June 12 with cities including LA, Portland, OR, Denver, Atlanta and Cambridge, MA opening June 13, with additional markets added throughout the month.