Sony Classics is charging ahead despite the insane turmoil at its parent company, opening its Awards-contender Mr. Turner in NYC and L.A. SPC is maintaining its expansion plans as well for fellow awards-hopefuls Foxcatcher and Whiplash into the New Year, according to the company’s co-president Michael Barker. Mr. Turner is the weekend’s highest profile limited release title to open this weekend. Director Mike Leigh’s films have a history of solid starts stateside, but the cumes have typically been proportionally more impressive. IFC Films will open break-up comedy Goodbye To All That, starring Paul Schneider, which is having a simultaneous theatrical and VOD day and date release. Submarine Deluxe’s doc Inside The Mind Of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D with Peter Capaldi will have a traditional roll out in NYC and LA and Rialto is going the conservative root with Anything For Alice. Big World Pictures will also open A Tale Of Winter this weekend.
Director-writer: Mike Leigh
Cast: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Karl Johnson, Ruth Sheen, Sandy Foster, Amy Dawson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage, Richard Bremmer
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Timothy Spall stars as British painter J.M.W. Turner, focusing on the last quarter century of the artist’s life and has won praise for his performance since its debut last spring. Spall won Best Actor at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and was named Best Actor for 2014 by the New York Film Critics Circle. The story, of course, revolves around Turner who is profoundly affected by his father’s death. He maintains a London home where he lives with his housekeeper who is in love with him, but he takes her for granted and occasionally sexually exploits. On a trip to the coast, he forms a close relationship with a woman whom he eventually lives with incognito. Throughout the feature, he travels, paints, visits the country’s aristocracy, visits brothels and is a popular member of the archaic Royal Academy of Arts. Throughout this period he is both celebrated and reviled by the public and royalty.
“We became involved with Mr. Turner years ago,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “Mike Leigh told us way back that he wanted to do this story, but was having challenges getting all of the money together. But we committed to the film even before [it went ahead].” Barker touted the film’s “epic enterprise” that he sees as having a long tail artistically and at the box office. He also said awareness of the 19th century master should buoy Mr. Turner over the long haul. “Turner is one of those painters whose art is more and more popular,” he added. “Many people consider him the first modern painter. We think the film will be a value for years to come and not just opening weekend…Spall has one of the finest performances of the year. The cinematography is incredible and words can’t do justice to the quality of the screenwriting.”
Sony Classics opened Mike Leigh’s last film, Another Year, in December 2010 in 6 locations grossing almost $112K for a solid $18,645 per theater average. It went on to cume over $3.2M domestically. His all-time highest grossing film on this side of the Atlantic is Secrets & Lies, which October Films opened in four theaters in September 1996. That film only had a $15,203 PTA when it bowed in 4 theaters. His 2008 title Happy-Go-Lucky (Miramax) grossed over $3.5M in 2008 and 2004’s Vera Drake (Fine Line) grossed over $3.77M (interestingly that film only opened with a $6,603 average in two theaters). His 1999 title Topsy-Turvy (USA Films) grossed over $6.2M, though his U.A. feature All Or Nothing floundered with just a $201,546 gross in 2002. His first film, High Hopes, opened in one location in February 1989 via Skouras and technically remains his highest PTA opener to date with a $27,964 gross.
Sony Classics will open Mr. Turner in New York and Los Angeles and will add additional cities every week into 2015.
Goodbye To All That
Director-writer: Angus MacLachlan
Cast: Paul Schneider, Melanie Lynskey, Anna Camp, Audrey P. Scott, Heather Graham, Amy Sedaris, Heather Lawless, Michael Chernus
Distributor: IFC Films
Filmmaker Angus MacLachlan had a number of friends facing the end of their marriages which sparked an idea for a screenplay. In the film, Parks And Recreation star Paul Schneider plays a newly single dad who’s navigating the strange world of the 30-something singles scene after his wife unexpectedly informs him that she wants a divorce. The new bachelor finds himself facing a comedic sequence of romantic encounters including reconnecting with a former crush to online dating. Amidst the one-night stands he’s seeking out “the real thing.”
“The main character is fictional but is a composite of I people I know,” said writer-director Angus MacLachlan. “I began writing the script three years ago and I knew that I also wanted to be the director.” MacLachlan showed the script to Mindy Goldberg and Anne Carey at Epoch Films who came on as producers and gathered financing from private investors. “It was great to have two women producers who could [examine] the female characters. I wanted them to have their own complexities but I also wanted them to be authentic,” added MacLachlan. “The finished film is what I imagined.” Mark Bennett (Zero Dark Thirty, Junebug) and Mitzi Corrigan (Little Accidents) cast the film and it shot in Winston-Salem in the fall of 2012 over four weeks. Post took place in the spring and the film premiered a year later at Tribeca where Schneider won the Best Actor prize.
“We [ultimately] chose Winston-Salem because that’s where I live, but we had initially planned to film in L.A. because there was a previous actor attached,” said MacLachlan. “But I’m happy we ended up in Winston-Salem because the script is specific to a mid-size city.” IFC Films expressed interest in the film soon after its premiere, according to MacLachlan, though the actual acquisition took place earlier this fall. The distributor rolled out Good Bye To All That at IFC Center in New York Thursday and the title will also be available via VOD day and date. It will open in Los Angeles December 24th at the Arena and will head to about 10 major markets.
Inside The Mind Of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D
Director-writer: Julien Jones
Cast: Peter Capaldi
Distributor: Submarine Deluxe
Inside The Mind Of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D utilizes the artist’s extensive handwritten notes to paint a portrait of the renaissance genius. Peter Capaldi portrays Da Vinci, dramatically narrating passages and monologues taken directly from the artist’s journals. The film captures both the epic and the ordinary in Da Vinci’s life including his thwarted ambitions, hurt, anger as well as sexual desire. “[The feature] is a History Films production that was screened for us by their team early last year,” said Submarine Deluxe co-president Dan Braun. “We were drawn to it initially because it was a 3D art film. Having worked on The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the concept of using 3D in a character based documentary was a compelling idea that sparked our interest and we feel hasn’t been fully explored yet.”
Da Vinci was not only a renowned painter and sculptor, but he also excelled in science, architecture, music, math, engineering, geology, botany and more, which are also niche audiences Submarine Deluxe hopes to tap, though Braun noted that “science aficionados, art overs, academics, Italian groups” as well as Peter Capaldi fans have had the strongest reactions to the doc. “We had Capaldi fans on Facebook and Twitter ask personal questions of Capaldi and then had him answer them directly which created a lot of excitement among his fans,” said Braun. “We had a brisk response to ticket giveaway contests to generate word of mouth, so we’ll have to see how this outreach will translate into ticket sales. But the excitement level from the dozens and dozens of groups who reacted positively is quite high.” Submarine Deluxe planned Inside The Mind Of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D’s roll out around Capaldi’s schedule. He also hopes Da Vinci will offer counter-programming though he acknowledged the challenge. “We felt releasing at the height of the holiday blockbuster season, while clearly a risk, might also be the opportune time to offer something a little bit different and offbeat,” said Braun. “We hope that December 19th is a small vacuum between the early Dec releases and the big [Christmas] weekend where we can make an impact.”
Submarine Deluxe will bow Inside The Mind Of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D in New York and L.A. this weekend, expanding to to Sante Fe, Portland, Washington, D.C., Boca Raton, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Detroit in the coming weeks. VOD and other windows will follow later in 2015.
Anything For Alice
Director: Nicolas Cuche
Writers: Sabrina Amara, Eric Jehelmann, Laurent Turner
Cast: Max Boublil, Aïssa Maïga, Patrick Timsit, Chantal Lauby, Redouanne Harjane, Naidra Ayadi, Philippe Lefebvre, Steve Tran
Distributor: Rialto Pictures
Rialto said it was attracted to French production Anything For Alice “by the strong casting of its leads.” The film centers on Max, who at age 30 has made a fortune on the Internet with his two friends and is indulging in the easy life. He is bored, however, and can’t stop thinking about Alice, the girl he fell in love with at university. She’s a vibrant young woman who is committed to her high ideals and sadly for Max, she’s never been interested in him. To get closer to Alice, Max buys the failing factory where she works without revealing his status as her new boss. Prepared to do anything, he spends his money without a second thought in order to make Alice happy, to make her son Valentin happy, and to make all the factory workers happy. He gives up his millionaire lifestyle to work on the production line and spins story after story to avoid being found out. Anything For Alice shot over eight weeks and is a Jerico, StudioCanal, M6Films and Chaocorp Distribution co-production. It was released last January in France.
“Max Boubil is a very talented comedian and has become a YouTube sensation in France, and Aïssa Maïga is a César nominee who appeared in Mood Indigo and Caché,” noted a Rialto spokesperson on behalf of Anything For Alice. “We are fairly traditional in our marketing approach as we have found that these films are ultimately critic-driven. We are quite happy with our positive review in the Los Angeles Times.” The LAT review will come in handy. Rialto is opening Anything For Alice exclusively in one L.A. run. Added Rialto: “VOD will happen down the line, not immediately as is becoming the vogue with many small releases these days.”