Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Box office repercussions of Hurricane Sandy likely will continue this weekend in the Specialty market. Two releases, A Late Quartet and This Must Be The Place were set for launches at the Sunshine Theater in Manhattan’s Lower East Side which is still without electricity. Con Edison notified customers in the area today that power is estimated to return Saturday at 11PM. Magnolia Pictures will roll out Jack And Diane whose director Bradley Rust Gray lured a nice cache of talent. And Roadside takes on theatrical distribution for Barry Levinson‘s sci-fi thriller The Bay, which centers on an ecological disaster.
Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Michael Wallach
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Jane McNeill, Christoph Denham, Michael Beasley
Distributor: Roadside Attractions, Lionsgate
Lionsgate initially picked up Barry Levinson’s sci-fi thriller The Bay after viewing a promotion reel. Oddly apropos to the Hurricane Sandy disaster, the story unfolds in a small Maryland town. “We’re positioning it as a horror movie for film lovers,” said Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen. “Barry Levinson is loved and we’re hoping for a more sophisticated audience as opposed to the regular horror audience.”
Cohen said Lionsgate decided to tap theatrical release partners at Roadside. They thought an art house release strategy would be a better fit. The movie screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and in the Midnight section at the recent New York Film Festival. In addition to VOD, The Bay will head to 14 markets on 23 screens including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Houston, Seattle, Phoenix and others.
This Must Be The Place
Director-writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company picked up This Must Be The Place just ahead of its debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “Harvey has a relationship with Paolo Sorrentino and obviously with Sean Penn,” noted Erik Lomis, TWC President of Theatrical Distribution. Lomis suggested the film will appeal to an “older, more sophisticated audience.” It centers on Cheyenne (Penn) a retired rock star who lives off his royalties. He returns to New York to find the man who tormented his recently deceased father at Auschwitz during WWII.
“The New York opening was going to be exclusively at the Sunshine,” said Lomis, but with the Sunshine Theater’s uncertain status, “we’ll assume we’ll be exclusively opening in Los Angeles this weekend.” TWC will add more markets on November 11th and then expand further on the 16th and 21st in a “traditional exclusive platform release.”
A Late Quartet
Director: Yaron Zilberman
Writers: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener
Distributor: Entertainment One, RKO Pictures
Dylan Wiley first came across A Late Quartet when he worked at RKO Pictures, which acquired the project at the script stage. After he joined eOne, they decided to partner for the film’s release. “We finalized the agreements right before the Toronto International Film Festival” where it debuted, and he said “people have fallen in love with the performances, especially with Christopher Walken.” The film, which opened the Denver Film Festival this week, centers on a world-renowned string quartet that confronts death, competing egos and lust.
“It caters to an older demographic, which I always say is the demo that is actually growing,” said Wiley. “It plays well with a sophisticated audience and the reactions have been overwhelming. We’ll try to ride that wave of good reviews and word-of-mouth as far as it will go.” Hurricane Sandy kept Christopher Walken from doing segments on Charlie Rose and The View this week, but Wiley expects the actor to be promoting the film as recovery begins. The film is set to open in six markets on nine screens. Although it was slated for New York’s Sunshine Theater in downtown Manhattan, that venue likely won’t be open before Sunday. A Late Quartet will be in the top 25 markets the following week.
Jack And Diane
Director-writer: Bradley Rust Gray
Cast: Riley Keough, Juno Temple, Kylie Minogue, Dane DeHaan, Leo Fitzpatrick
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Writer-director Bradley Rust Gray initially made a short thesis film about two guys traveling in a van who have a sexual encounter. After moving to New York City following his wedding to indie filmmaker So Yong Kim, he ran into two women – Jack and Diane – who turned out to be female parallels of the characters in his short. “I started writing a story about what I thought their story could have been,” said Gray. In the film he came up with, Diane’s feelings for Jack evolve in terrifying ways when she learns her friend will be moving away.
Juno Temple plays Diane and Riley Keough takes the role of Jack. Weeks before production, a colleague suggested Kylie Minogue for the significant role of Tara. “We had lunch and walked around the block and talked about the character. It’s a radically different look and feel for her.” But the singing superstar’s schedule didn’t line up with Gray’s so they decided to do open auditions. Most of the actors were younger than he hoped for. “Juno and Riley and I watched the auditions and we picked a girl … but then Kylie emailed said she could do it,” said Gray. The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year and played in Locarno and Canada’s Atlantic Film Festival in September. Magnolia will open Jack And Diane in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, adding Seattle November 23rd and other markets thereafter. It is currently available via VOD.