Audiences looking for a little smart titillation to supplement their steady feed of studio special effects movies will find Sundance debut The Overnight a welcome view. Starring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche and Taylor Schilling, the film is a Gen Y/Millennial update to the sex comedy opening via The Orchard. Sony Classics is opening Sundance ’14 title Infinitely Polar Bear with Mark Ruffalo in New York and L.A., while Broad Green Pictures is rolling out its first title, France’s Eden by Mia Hansen-Løve in a targeted limited release ahead of their busy slate of features that are on tap for the rest of 2015 heading into 2016. And Oscilloscope will bow Rory Culkin starrer Gabriel in a day and date release.
Other limited releases opening this weekend include Kino Lorber’s The Wanted 18 at New York’s Cinema Village and L.A.’s Laemmle NoHo 7, DistribFilms will bow César-winner Hippocrates: Diary Of A French Doctor in New York, followed by L.A. July 10; Drafthouse Films begins its release of The Tribe in New York followed by select cities nationwide throughout 2015, and also in theaters are IFC Films’ Mangelhorn and Gravitas Ventures’ Anarchy Parlor.
Director-writer: Patrick Brice
Cast: Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche, Taylor Schilling, R.J. Hermes, Kyle Field, Sarah DeVincentis
Distributor: The Orchard
Adam Scott and spouse Naomi Scott worked with Mark Duplass on Funny Or Die, and circled back to the actor/filmmaker with a script by Patrick Brice. “We sent him the script. It’s hilarious and it had hit a nerve with Adam and me after having children,” said Scott. “We weren’t sure we wanted to work on it together.”
The couple first read the script after Duplass and Brice invited them to see the latter’s first feature, Creep (which was co-written and co-starring Duplass). “[Brice] said, ‘Don’t get freaked out.'” The story follows Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, who have recently moved to Los Angeles’ Eastside from Seattle. Feeling lost in a new city, they are desperate to find their first new friends. After a chance meeting with Kurt at the neighborhood park, they gladly agree to join family pizza night at the home. But as it gets later and the kids go to bed, the family “playdate” becomes increasingly more revealing and bizarre as the couples begin to open up.
“Adam said he could relate to ‘Alex’ who plays the male half of the couple new to L.A.,” said Scott. “Taylor read the script and attached quickly. Her open availability dovetailed with Adam’s.” With private financing in place — that was fairly ‘fast and easy’ as far as indies go — The Overnight shot over two weeks in April at a home near Lake Hollywood. “It was a half block from our house,” said Scott. “We’d walk up there from home.” The convenient location didn’t come about right away. Scott had driven around L.A. for possible locations — the home is the main site of the ‘overnight’ period that comprises the bulk of the film. “I saw the house and it ended up that the owner was someone we knew.”
The shoot went well aside from a faulty oven, which threatened the catering, but Scott remedied that by loaning out her kitchen down the street — no traffic involved. “Nobody was on their phones, nobody checked out,” said Scott about the shoot. “It was focused — it mirrored what was happening in terms of energy.”
The Overnight premiered at the Eccles Theater at Sundance where The Orchard caught the screening. “We were in a position to go to Sundance to ‘go big or go home,'” said The Orchard’s Paul Davidson. “We were building the company and wanted to find the titles that could set us apart. There’s a lot of sex comedies out there, but [not necessarily] rooted in real character development while also pushing boundaries, but this does so in all ways. It was immediately on our radar and we made an offer on the title. Then it came down to convincing the filmmakers to entrust their work with a new distributor.”
The Orchard will open The Overnight at the Angelika in New York and the Arclight and Landmark Westside Pavilion in L.A. Stars Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche along with producer Mark Duplass will be joining in on Q&As. By July 4th weekend, The Overnight will be in about 300 theaters. Added Davidson: “When people talk about the summer, there’s a lot of dialog that there’s a lot of blockbuster movies, but it’s the right time to counter program that trend. We think summer is the right time to this comedy…A lot of the Sundance successes are finding their home around this timeframe.”
Infinitely Polar Bear
Director-writer: Maya Forbes
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Keir Dullea, Wallace Wolodarsky, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Mary O’Rourke
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Infinitely Polar Bear was born out of the writers strike, based on writer-director Maya Forbes’ upbringing. Set in the ’70s, the film centers on a manic-depressive mess of a father who tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young daughters. When Cam (Mark Ruffalo) has a manic breakdown that lands him in a mental hospital, his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) and their two young daughters, Amelia and Faith, are forced to leave their house in the country and move into a cramped apartment. Maggie applies to business school and is accepted to Columbia University’s MBA program. Seeing this as her chance to build a better life for their daughters, Maggie asks Cam to become the primary caregiver for the girls while she completes her degree in New York. Cam agrees, hoping to rebuild his family. But the two spirited girls are not interested in making things easy for him…
“During the writers’ strike, we decided to focus on things we really want to see, and we’ve been working on it since,” said Wallace Wolodarsky, who is a producer of the film directed by his spouse. “We like to say it took 40 years to write it, but the script has gone through three years of thought…” Mark Ruffalo read for the part of Cam back in 2010 and has been attached to the project since. Financing was a roller coaster, though it came together around the end of 2012.
“We experienced the cliché independent film experience, gaining and losing financing a number of times,” said Wolodarsky, who also appears in the feature. “But in the end we shot over 28 days in Providence, R.I.” Paper Street Films and Park Pictures and Park Pictures came on with financing. Zoe Saldana boarded the project quickly.
“Providence, R.I. is a great place to shoot a movie,” said Wolodarsky. “It’s not exciting to say, but we didn’t hit any major production snags. We stayed on schedule. Between Mark, Zoe and the two girls we became a tight unit. Post was very easy because we were involved with [executive producer] J.J. Abrams we got to edit at [his production company] Bad Robot and he was able to strike an amazing deal with Skywalker Sound.”
Ruffalo had a number of studio commitments, so the release was timed with his schedule in mind. Sony Classics picked up the title in February, 2014. “He was committed to promote the film so we had to map out a time post Avengers to go out into the world and talk about the movie,” added Wolodarsky. SPC will open Infinitely Polar Bear in four New York and Los Angeles theaters this weekend.
Director-writer: Mia Hansen-Løve
Writer: Sven Hansen-Løve
Cast: Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Zita Hanrot, Roman Kolinka, Hugo Bienvenu, Vincent Lacoste
Distributor: Broad Green Pictures
Broad Green is out of the gate with their first release with French-language coming-of-age drama, Eden. Hansen-Løve found inspiration from her brother, Sven, in telling the story set in the ’90s amidst the rise of French electronic music. In the film, Paul takes his first steps as a DJ. With his best friend he creates a duo called Cheers. and they rapidly find their audience. They are quickly caught up in a euphoric and short-lived rise to fame, and Paul, blinded by his passion, overlooks his own life. Eden retraces the steps of the “French touch” generation beginning in 1992, which still resonates today through the success of bands like Daft Punk.
“It’s a targeted film and a good one for us to start with,” a Broad Green spokesperson told Deadline this week. “It’s very relatable. It’s not a story about success, but akin to an Inside Llewyn Davis-story but [in this story] about a DJ who is trying to become successful.”
Broad Green has an ambitious slate of releases for both the rest of 2015 as well as heading into 2016, with about seven additional titles on the docket for the remainder of the year, plus another two possibilities. “We already have 6 films for 2016, and there will be about 12 to 16 films next year. “We have films like Eden, but we’ll also have films like A Walk In The Woods coming up, Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups as well as Infiltrator [starring Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo and Diane Kruger]. It runs the gamut of films.”
“We’re targeting the art house fans, but since it’s also about electronic music, we’re also targeting enthusiasts of that scene,” added Broad Green. “We’ve partnered with various sites including Vice and Thump. Eden opens in New York at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center in New York as well as the Nuart in Los Angeles this weekend. There will be a limited expansion beginning June 26. Films We Like will open Eden in Canada. Added Broad Green: “This is the kind of film that is very targeted, if we can do some business this weekend, it will have legs. Hopefully word of mouth and reviews will support it.”
Director-writer: Lou Howe
Cast: Rory Culkin, Emily Meade, Lynn Cohen, David Call, Deirdre O’Connell, Alexia Rasmussen, Louisa Krause, Frank De Julio
Producers Luca Borghese and Ben Howe had gone to school together, but had not worked on any projects, until Howe called Borghese to ask him to read his brother’s new script. I was kind of surprised, I thought it was good,” said Borghese.
The film stars Rory Culkin as the title character in a portrait of a vulnerable teen at his psychological breaking point, struggling to keep it together in the wake of his father’s suicide. Convinced that reuniting with an ex-girlfriend holds the answers to his troubles, Gabriel risks everything in a desperate pursuit that will take him to unchartered places and tests the limits of those closest to him.
“We had 20-25 investors who came in with low amounts but were enthusiastic of Lou,” said Borghese. “Cinereach was also great supporters and allowed us to [begin production]. We had two amazing casting directors, Allison Estrin and Paul Schnee. When Rory came in, we were blown away by his audition. He was far and away our first choice and he was excited by the script. It had taken us awhile to find him.”
Gabriel shot for a week in New York City and then production headed out to the South Fork of Long Island. In Manhattan, the team went to various locations around Midtown, ‘stealing’ shots under the radar. “The last shot of the movie was at 5 AM on the second week of March in The Springs [near East Hampton] and it was 15 degrees outside,” said Borghese. “We needed a shot of Rory’s character in a bathtub and the only one we could use in order to get the overhead shot was in this creepy studio behind the house. It had no hot water…” Culkin took one for the team and plunged into the shivering water to get the shot.
Gabriel debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and later played the Nantucket Film Festival, and of course, the Hamptons International Film Festival. “It’s not subject matter distributors are jumping for,” admitted Borghese…Selling an independent feature about a 20-year-old with a mental illness isn’t easy.” Producer/sales rep Kevin Iwashina received a call from Oscilloscope about the possibility of releasing the title.
“We talked to them in November and they were incredibly enthusiastic about the movie on its own merits, which is exactly what we were looking for,” added Borghese. “They were very honest about the movie possibly not coming out theatrically and that it might be a hard sell. But, they were very good about getting it in front of press and getting it booked in New York and L.A. They’ve done a stand-up job on it.” Oscilloscope will bow the film day and date at the Village East in New York this weekend, followed by the Music Hall in Los Angeles.