There’s a parade in New York that might get weathered out. Disney’s Frozen is icing up across the country and even TWC’s Philomena is nearly wide. Good, here are some alternatives. TWC likely has this weekend’s obvious choice among the Specialties with film festival favorite Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. By the way, this won’t be the last film-going aficionados will see of the South African icon. South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane’s A Letter To Nelson Mandela debuted at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), the world’s biggest doc fest. Just saying — no doubt there will be a lot said about one of the biggest historical figures in recent decades. Also this weekend, FilmDistrict is launching Oldboy, the American remake courtesy of Spike Lee. Originally made in movie form by Korean director Park Chan-wook (2003) this Oldboy stars a good plethora of starrage from Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson and more. On the doc front, IFC Films will open a SXSW premiere, The Punk Singer in limited release theatrically in NYC and LA (along with that ever elusive VOD/digital). The distributor says it expects it to do well across all platforms.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer: William Nicholson
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Simo Mogwaza
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
South Africa’s maverick anti-Apartheid leader turned President Nelson Mandela has been the focus of worldwide reverence for years and it has more recently gone into full throttle as the now 95 year-old leader’s health deteriorates. Based on the 1994 autobiography of the same name, the Toronto/Mill Valley/Hamptons/Chicago/AFI Fest (and more) bio-drama Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom chronicles the near saintly figure’s journey from his childhood in rural South Africa, activism and long imprisonment on Robben Island through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. “We’re extremely proud of this film,” said TWC’s president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis. “We think this is very important and really well done. This guy is a living legend and the [feature] shows all facets of his characters [including] his tremendous heart and strong beliefs as well as his flaws. It shows him as a charismatic leader.” Ahead of the film’s U.S. roll out, Lomis noted that Mandela’s daughters flew to the U.S., giving it a boost in the media. Perhaps more importantly, it gave the film their stamp of approval. “Zindzi [Mandela] was three when her father went to jail and 30 when he came out,” noted Lomis. “She was incredibly moved by the picture. Wanted to be alone after seeing it and wanted to be alone afterward.”
TWC will bow Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom in a traditional platform release on Friday at the Angelika and Lincoln Square in New York as well as the Arclight and Landmark in Los Angeles. The film is also incidentally opening in South Africa this week as well.
Director: Spike Lee
Writers: Garon Tsuchiya (manga), Nobuaki Minegishi (manga), Mark Protosevich (screenplay)
Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli
An American remake of the 2003 Park Chan-wook South Korean cult film of the same name in 2003, the story is based on the Japanese manga. The mystery thriller centers on a man who’s obsessed with vengeance and sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years. This manifestation of Oldboy launched with what FilmDistrict noted were “media stunts at both the San Diego and New York Comic-Cons “followed by continuous engagements with fanboys and specialty sites and media”. Beyond that, the company did ad buys with The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Sons Of Anarchy, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and ESPN. Oldboy is by far the weekend’s biggest opener by way of numbers of theaters. The film hit 583 locations Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving.
SXSW 2013 doc The Punk Singer takes a look at the life of activist, musician and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna who formed punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s. IFC Films took notice of the film for its “fast-paced, engaging and very entertaining” qualities, according to company exec Mark Boxer. “The film played to a sold out audience at DOC NYC as well as many other festivals throughout the U.S.,” added Boxer. “We cross promoted with [Hanna's band] Julie Ruin tour by setting up word-of-mouth screenings following Kathleen’s shows in select markets as well as special screenings at non-traditional venues including the Knitting Factory and the Ace Hotel.” Boxer added that the audiences at the recent DOC NYC festival were a “very passionate” group that skewed female as young as 16- to 45-plus.
No soundtrack is accompanying the release, but Hanna’s latest band, Julie Ruin just released an album in September. IFC has worked with Girlie Action PR who are also handling the album’s releases in helping to position the film. Hanna will be appearing at this coming weekend’s showings at IFC Center in New York. The Punk Singer will be a day and date theatrical release, available via iTunes and all other VOD platforms. “We expect it to do well digitally and theatrically,” added Boxer. The film will open in LA as well this weekend and then expand to the top markets such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston and Austin on December 6 and expanding to top markets throughout December.