This weekend’s specialty openers in the U.S. include a pair of Cannes Film Festival offerings. Just over a week since its world premiere as the fest’s opening-night film, Wes Anderson’s romantic-comedy Moonrise Kingdom will bow Stateside. The film has been an initial success since opening in theaters in France on the heels of its premiere there. Cannes 2011 title Oslo, August 31st also joins the specialty fray, hoping to repeat its success overseas in the U.S., as is The Weinstein Company‘s The Intouchables. That film has become one of the largest box office draws in French history and has taken big sums overall abroad. Also this weekend, Samuel Goldwyn Films will forgo the traditional L.A. and New York approach for its theatrical opening of Cowgirls N’ Angels, opting for playdates in the Midwest and South.
Cowgirls N’ Angels
Director: Timothy Armstrong
Writers: Stephan Blinn, Timothy Armstrong
Cast: Alicia Witt, Bailee Madison, Jackson Rathbone
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Samuel Goldwyn will bypass the traditional New York and L.A. openings for this film about a group of rodeo trick-riders who recruit a young girl to join their group, opting instead for regional debuts concentrating on the Midwest and Southern U.S. markets. Among its opening cities are Omaha, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs and Salt Lake City. “We chose that pattern of release because that’s when kids are getting out of school. It’s family friendly and rated PG,” Samuel Goldwyn’s head of distribution Michael Silberman told Deadline. “This is also a ‘horse friendly area’ of the country.”
Cowgirls N’ Angels came to the distributor’s attention through producers Ash Shah and Ben Feingold, with whom they have a standing relationship. “It’s a terrific family film. We felt with [the film’s] rodeo aspects and trick riding those parts of the country would be more apt to embrace the film as opposed to a big city,” Silberman added. Samuel Goldwyn will debut Cowgirls N’ Angels on 50 screens this weekend and will continue to roll it out in other territories through summer.
Belgian film The Intouchables has fared well in the overseas box office. After debuting at the San Sebastian and Tokyo film festivals last fall, it hit the L.A. French series COL/COA and San Francisco International Film Festival in the U.S. The story about an aristocrat who becomes a quadriplegic following a paragliding accident who then hires a young Senegalese man from the projects to be his caregiver was a hit in France, becoming one of its biggest box office draws ever. The film has grossed over $300 million abroad.
The Weinstein Company will bow The Intouchables in New York and Los Angeles Friday in four theaters. It will expand to the top 25 markets on June 1st followed by an additional 25 markets by June 8th.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton
Distributor: Focus Features
Straight from Cannes ,where the feature opened the festival last week, the film — about a pair of teen lovers who flee their New England town on a rural island causing locals to go on the hunt for them — received positive word-of-mouth at the event following its world premiere. “The world that we wanted to set the story in is partly inspired by a real island where I’ve been,” Anderson said. “It’s a place with no cars and, you know, you have to take a boat to get there.”
The film is Anderson’s biggest opening in France, where it debuted on the heels of the Cannes premiere and ranked sixth in the marketplace with 173,000 admissions. Focus will open Moonrise Kingdom in New York and Los Angeles this weekend in four theaters, with additional markets planned throughout June. It will widen timed to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. “Summer play period enables films to take advantage of strong word-of-mouth and viral buzz,” a Focus spokesperson told Deadline. “Moonrise is smart counter-programming and an alternative to the genre/superhero summer fare.”
Oslo, August 31st
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (novel), Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
Cast: Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Oslo benefited from a generous Scandinavian financing system “even though the premise of this film might sound dark,” producer Hans-Jørgen Osnes told Deadline. The film centers on a young recovering drug addict who takes a brief leave from his treatment center to interview for a job and see friends. The film shot with a Cannes deadline in mind and it made it into last year’s official selection.
Osnes and his team found international success for their previous project Reprise a few years back and are hoping to repeat the same with Oslo. “We are thrilled Strand Releasing is opening Oslo, August 31st theatrically in the U.S. this week with a national rollout to follow,” he said. Overseas, the film just passed 140,000 admissions in France.