EXCLUSIVE: Extending a relationship that began with the Spike Lee-directed Chi-Raq, Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions will partner on the domestic theatrical release of Love & Friendship. The Whit Stillman-directed period comedy stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Stephen Fry and Emma Greenwell. Amazon acquired North American rights last summer to a film which makes its Sundance debut Saturday evening at the Eccles theater. It is playing in the Premieres category, and brings Stillman back to Park City where his career launched with Metropolitan. Love & Friendship will have an exclusive theatrical window that will likely be 30 days at least.
The film reunites Beckinsale and Sevigny with Stillman for the first time since 1998 cult classic The Last Days Of Disco. Set in the 1790s, Love & Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. While there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica. It is adapted from a Jane Austen short story and features a particularly strong performance by Beckinsale.
Love & Friendship continues Stillman’s ongoing relationship with Amazon Studios that started with the premiere of his television pilot The Cosmopolitans on Jeff Bezos’ online retail giant’s Prime Instant Video service last year.
Amazon Studios, under Ted Hope and Bob Berney, is expected to be a player at this year’s Sundance. There are rumblings the upstart might establish a documentary program to rival the one that Netflix is doing. Beyond Chi-Raq, Amazon has the Kevin Spacey-Michael Shannon-starrer Elvis & Nixon, directed by Liza Johnson. Bleecker Street is handling the theatrical release on that one.