Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
This coming weekend’s new specialty offerings may not have the same dazzling numbers of this month’s earlier titles like The Master, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and Arbitrage, but they also do not pack the same prowess in terms of hype and star power that those titles had coming out of the gate. Still, the new releases are being targeted toward specific audiences their distributors hope to tap as moviegoers. Bringing Up Bobby stars Milla Jovovich, Bill Pullman and Marcia Cross in a directorial debut by actor Famke Janssen. Kino Lorber’s Head Shot will likely spur interest from Asian audiences but may cross over to cinephiles, while China Lion’s Vulgaria may do the same. New distribution outfit The Film Arcade is debuting its first-ever release The Other Dream Team using a traditional theatrical model, while International Film Circuit’s The Waiting Room will utilize social media it built up during production to hopefully lure ticket holders.
monterey media (yes, it’s spelled all lower case) first caught wind of Dutch-born actress Famke Janssen during her first film, in which they were involved. Janssen has now taken to the director’s chair for this feature about a con artist who moves with her son to a conservative neighborhood in Oklahoma. Bringing Up Bobby, however, came to the distributor, which typically releases 10-12 films per year, after it was made. “It was exactly something Famke wanted to make,” said monterey media CFO and managing partner Jere Rae-Mansfield. “[Producer] Sofia Sondervan brought Bringing Up Bobby to our attention.” Initially, monterey planned to release the film last spring after playing a half-dozen or so festivals, but Janssen wasn’t available to do press.
“I see it doing wonderful business at art house theaters,” said Rae-Mansfield. “It’s a feel-good film and I’ve been hearing that everything has been so heavy lately which typically happens in an election year. Milla is very fun-loving and carefree in this role. It’s something people haven’t seen her in something like this before. And people want to see what Famke is doing.” monterey will bow the film in New York this weekend and it will expand to L.A., Phoenix, San Diego and the Bay Area on October 19 followed by other markets.
Kino Lorber picked up the cop thriller out of last year’s Toronto Film Festival. The company then sent the title to mostly Asian-centered film festivals throughout the year, drumming up awareness. Kino Lorber president Richard Lorber said that while the title should be a natural fit for like-minded audiences, writer-director Ratanaruang also has a strong connection with cinephiles. “It’s an existential action thriller or Buddhist film noir,” said Lorber. “It’s a smart film that has high-octane action and violence with a redemptive outcome.”
Headshot will roll out in New York and seven other markets this weekend, and Kino Lorber will expand the title over the next two to three weeks. It also plans day-and-date on iTunes as well as Hulu Plus, Amazon and others. They had looked into also sending the title out on cable VOD, though complications arose when companies asked for protection from competitors. “We may go for it in the future, but for now we’re going for Internet VOD and DVD” Lorber said. “We had a hunch it would be Thailand’s official entry for the [Best Foreign-Language Film] Oscar race and it was. The announcement came out as we were working out the details for its release.”
The folks at new distribution outfit Film Arcade first saw the pic at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Although they had just announced the company, they weren’t sure if they were going to buy anything at the event. “But we fell in love with this movie,” said the company’s Miranda Bailey. The documentary centers on the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team that became symbols of the small Baltic country’s independence movement away from Soviet rule. The team triumphed — apparently with inspiration from the Grateful Dead — at the Barcelona Olympics that year. “We want to do proper theatrical [release], and are not doing day-and-date,” said Bailey. “We want to take ‘harder indie releases’ and take them out into theaters. We absolutely believe that this film had to go theatrical. It’s an extremely inspiring story and I used to follow the Grateful Dead, so it was a great fit for me.”
Bailey sees the “indie film crowds” and people who are political junkies as natural fits for The Other Dream Team. This will be the first release for the fledgling distributor and they’ll roll it out in New York and Los Angeles followed by other markets around the country. “We’re trying to focus on just doing legitimate old-school theatrical and making sure we get great theaters,” added Bailey.
Vulgaria distinguished itself as becoming the top-grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong so far in 2012, breaking the record of Love In The Buff, which was also directed by Ho-Cheung Pang. The niche distributor picked up the title from Hong Kong’s Golden Scene and sees it potentially crossing over in appeal outside its typical audience. “We’re tremendously excited about it, as it’s extremely smart — a project we describe as Fellini’s 8 1/2 meets The Hangover“, said China Lion’s Robert Lundberg. “We’re focusing our marketing efforts on our core audiences — both Mandarin and Cantonese — but see this as a film that will cross over to Western audiences, as early reviews have been extremely positive.” China Lion will bow the comedy about a long-time film producer who hasn’t produced anything in 16 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
Producer-director Nicks approached International Film Circuit’s Wendy Lidell about his health care documentary several months back. The specialty distributor exec has a track record with social-interest documentaries with an artistic bend. Nicks had already amassed an audience through social networking and raised a bulk of his budget through a Kickstarter campaign. The built-in audience potential attracted International Film Circuit to take on the project. “I was attracted because of that built-in connection that we can now go back to [these people] through email, Twitter and Facebook.” said Lidell. “He raised a significant part of the budget from Kickstarter, but also from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the McArthur Foundation.”
ITVS also is a producer on the project. Independent Lens will debut the title next April on television. The film, which gives an unsettling critique on America’s health care system, also received some help from an unlikely source, according to Lidell. “It’s so great too to have Mitt Romney talking about people going to the Emergency Room to get health care right in the middle of our release,” she said. The Waiting Room will open at IFC Cener in New York Wednesday and will be followed by the Laemmle in Santa Monica and locations in Pasadena and Claremont. It will also head to three theaters in the Bay Area followed by a slow roll out over the next few months. “We’ll eventually make it to the top 20 markets,” said Lidell.