Just two days after its World Premiere at the Opening Night gala of the Tribeca Film Festival, Magnolia Pictures’ The First Monday In May is in theaters. Andrew Rossi’s doc about New York’s annual Met Gala is a glittery mash of fashion, art and culture as it chronicles one of the city’s biggest events on the social calendar. The Weinstein Company is taking Irish filmmaker John Carney’s Sing Street into an initial limited release with ample TV ads ahead of its weekend launch. A24, meanwhile, has crime-thriller Green Room this weekend, after picking up the title at last year’s Cannes Directors Fortnight where it debuted — the second for filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. Screen Media is the custodian of the third installment of the international Love franchise, rolling out Rio, I Love You in the wake of successful earlier features set in Paris and New York. The company is also opening Colonia, starring Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl today. And Oscilloscope is heading out with Above And Below, an American-set “not-quite-documentary” that debuted at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Also in limited release this weekend are Gravitas Ventures’ 13 Cameras, Strand’s Our Last Tango and Yah Raj’s Fan.
Director-writer: John Carney
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice, Ian Kenny, Don Wycherley, Lydia McGuinness
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Irish Once director John Carney’s teen years in Dublin during the 1980s was not unlike the lead character’s in his new Sing Street. His experience at an inner-city school provided the idea to create a musical film about the era.
The Dublin-set feature follows 14 year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from his parents’ strained relationship and money troubles while trying to adjust at the inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool Raphina (Lucy Boynton). With the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos — though he has no band, yet. She agrees, and so Conor jumps into the vibrant rock music scene of the decade, forming a band with a few lads and pouring his heart into music and videos.
TWC became involved with Sing Street in the script phase ahead of the company’s 2014 release of Begin Again. It took the completed project to Sundance for its World Premiere this year. Begin Again, released in June, 2014, had a total gross of $16.17 million. Searchlight released Carney’s 2007 feature Once, with a $9.4 million cume.
TWC said it believes Sing Street will split ‘fifty-fifty’ age 25 and under, skewing toward females. “We’ve had an aggressive screening series, and have had a terrific response,” said Ouaknine. “And, the reviews have been amazing.” The title’s soundtrack is being released this week via Republic. TWC has also placed television ads ahead of this weekend’s roll out.
Sing Street will open in five locations in New York and Los Angeles followed by the top ten markets next week and move through the top 25 afterward. “We expect solid business from the start,” said Ouaknine. “We’ll expand within markets as we see where it makes sense, and will go nationwide in May.”
The First Monday In May
Director: Andrew Rossi
Subjects: Andrew Bolton, Anna Wintour, Wong Kar-wai, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Baz Luhrmann, Rihanna
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
The First Monday in May bowed Wednesday as the Opening Night slot at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and Magnolia Pictures is hoping to capitalize on the buzz with a New York release. Magnolia had released filmmaker Andrew Rossi’s previous doc Page One: Inside The New York Times with success.
First Monday follows the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most-attended fashion exhibition in history, “China, Through the Looking Glass,” an exploration of Chinese-inspired fashions. With unprecedented access, Rossi captures the collision of high fashion and celebrity at one of the biggest global fashion events led every year by Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. Featuring a cast of renowned artists from many fields, the feature dives into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art.
“Magnolia has a relationship with Andrew Rossi, going back to Page One, which was a successful, $1M-plus theatrical release,” said Magnolia exec Matt Cowal. “I think the positive experience from that release was an incentive for all parties to collaborate again.”
The company expects to replicate some of Page One’s success by tapping audiences fascinated by the inner-workings of venerable institutions. “People interested in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue will find this film fascinating in the same way that people who care about The New York Times got a lot out of Page One,” said Cowal. “Beyond that, we feel there is potentially a very large audience from fashion lovers, and people who are interested in the celebrity aspects of the Met Gala. We are relying on the terrific national publicity that opening the Tribeca Film Festival is generating for the film to raise awareness for our opening weekend, and hoping to get a nice bump from the publicity around this year’s Met Ball in a couple of weeks on May 2nd.”
Cowal added that Magnolia has been running an “aggressive publicity and marketing campaign” targeting the fashion world. Anna Wintour has also been making national TV appearances, and the film has gotten support from The Met and Vogue. Magnolia Pictures will open the title in most major cities this weekend with a quick expansion over the next couple weeks.
Director-writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Mark Webber, Callum Turner, Eric Edlestein, Taylor Tunes
Jeremy Saulnier is following up his 2013 crime-thriller Blue Ruin with another crime-thriller, Green Room. Both had their debuts in the Directors Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival.
The latest centers on luckless punk rockers The Ain’t Rights as they finish up a long, unsuccessful tour. The group is about to call it quits when it gets an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems to be a third-rate gig escalates into something sinister when the band witnesses an act of violence backstage. Now trapped, the rockers face off against the club’s depraved owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise. The Ain’t Rights prove themselves more cunning and capable than anyone expected, though, turning the tables and setting the stage for a life-or-death showdown. Intense, emotional, and twisted, Green Room is fine genre filmmaking, with the cast delivering first-rate performances, especially Stewart’s brilliantly devious turn as Darcy.
“This is an idea Jeremy had percolating for awhile,” said producer Neill Kopp. “My fellow producer Anish Savjani’s company Film Science did Blue Ruin. The three of us had breakfast at Sundance 2014 and he laid out the idea for us from A to Z. By April, we had the script.”
The group met again at that year’s Tribeca Film Festival and presented the script to Broad Green Pictures, which came on board with financing after some key casting was in place. Casting director Avy Kaufman found actors for the key roles of Pat and Amber, played by Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots respectively. “Financing was cast contingent, but reasonably so,” said Kopp. “For the budget we had, we had to deliver, though Jeremy is someone actors want to work with. It all came together in a relatively organic and swift way.”
Green Room shot in and around Portland, Oregon between Labor Day and Thanksgiving 2014. Originally, the script did not specify a place, though it would have likely gone to Saulnier’s homestate Virginia by default. Kopp pushed for Portland, where he lives. “We started talking to the Oregon film office and they put together a strong incentive package,” said Kopp. “We also knew we could make the film at a high level there. You need infrastructure for effects and Oregon has emerged as a serious production market. There is a base here and we jumped on it.”
A24 picked up the title out of Cannes. Kopp noted that their original partnership with Broad Green had taken place before the company’s distribution wing had swung into full gear and that all parties agreed the title would fit with A24. “This is a 100 percent genre film, and when A24 pursued the film and wanted it, everyone recognized that they were the right distributor,” added Kopp. A24 will open Green Room in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, with a national expansion planned for April 29.
Rio, I Love You
Directors (and some writers): Vincente Amorim, Guillermo Arriaga, Sephan Elliott, Im Sang-soo, Nadine Labaki, Fernando Meirelles, José Padilha Carols Saldanha, Paolo Sorrentino, John Turturro, Adrucha Waddington, César Charlone
Cast: Basil Hoffman, Emily Mortimer, Rodrigo Santoro, Nadine Labaki, Harvey Keitel, Fernanda Montenegro, Vincent Cassel, Marcio Garcia, Ryan Kwanten, John Turturro, Laura Neiva, Jason Isaacs
Distributor: Screen Media
Love makes its way to the Southern Hemisphere for the third installment of an international franchise of sorts, which began with the 2006 feature, Paris, je t’aims (Paris, I Love You) followed by New York, I Love You (2008). The Brazilian city of Rio is getting its own spotlight as it prepares for the Olympics.
Similar to the first two, Rio, I Love You is a feature anthology, created by 10 filmmakers from across the globe. The storyline of each segment focuses on an encounter of love in a different neighborhood of the city, demonstrating the distinct qualities and character of the location. “We saw it in Cannes last year at the market and thought that the timing with the Rio Olympics coming up would be [ideal],” said Screen Media’s Tom Yagielski. “The other two grossed well at the box office and this has a stable of known filmmakers. Also some of them [including Paulo Sorrentino] have new films coming up, so added momentum [for this film] would be beneficial.”
Released in the states by First Look in May, 2007, Paris, je t’aims grossed nearly $4.9 million here and over $17.4 million worldwide. New York didn’t score quite as well, but the title released via Vivendi Entertainment here still grossed nearly $1.6 million domestically, and flirted with an $8.1 million cume worldwide.
“There’s an affection around the brand now,” added Yagielski. “People remember the other two fondly and there’s a proven track record. Emily Mortimer and Harvey Keitel will appeal to the art house here, but we’re also doing grassroots outreach with the Brazilian community here. We’ve also contracted with a PR company that targets the Latino audience.” Yagielski added that Mortimer and others were supporting the title in the U.S. ahead of its release.
Screen Media will open Rio, I Love You at the Sunshine Theater in New York, followed by locations in L.A. and Washington, D.C. on April 22, with additional markets set to be added April 29. In all, 26 markets are currently slated, with more expected to follow.
Director-writer: Florian Gallenberger
Writer: Torsten Wenzel
Cast: Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist, Richenda Carey, Vicky Krieps, Jeanne Werner, Julian Ovenden, August Zirner, Martin Wuttke, Nicolás Barsoff, Steve Karier, Stefan Merki, Lucila Gandolfo
Distributor: Screen Media
Screen Media is also eyeing South America with its other roll-out this weekend, Colonia, by German-born filmmaker Florian Gallenberger. Based on true experiences, the title follows a young woman’s (Emma Watson) desperate search in Chile for her abducted boyfriend (Daniel Brül), which leads her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, an ex-Nazi cult.
“I heard about Colonia for the first time in school when I was nine years old,” said Gallenberger. “I was furious about it and came home from school and told my mum about this place in Chile. Coincidentally [years later], I was sent a screenplay, which was started by [Torsten Wenzel]. We began collaborating, doing four years of research, much of which we found was [incorporated] into the film.”
Part of that research included trips to Chile. Gallenberger had a stroke of luck, meeting a psychiatrist who was treating some younger members of Colonia. Additionally, the cult had tapped into the tourism industry, so having outsiders around became more commonplace. “Meeting the psychiatrist was just the thing I needed. They trusted him, so they also [warmed up] to people who were associated with him. At first, I didn’t explain who I was, but eventually I did. I told them I wanted to do a story. The young people I met were into it, and even felt some relief from the pressure they had faced. We even had one with us during the shoot to give us advice on accuracy.”
Originally, Colonia was going to be filmed in German with a German cast. German-Spanish actor Daniel Brühl, a friend and neighbor of Gallenberger’s, was attached to the project early on. However, once producers realized they couldn’t raise all the money needed from Germany alone, they went another route. Emma Watson took the female lead when it was decided to do the film in English and Spanish.
Shooting began in October, 2014 and continued until mid-January. To take advantage of European incentives, Luxembourg and Germany substituted for Chile. Most of the resources came from the those two countries, with additional resources from France and the UK. Production then headed to Buenos Aires, standing in for Chilean capital Santiago. “Argentina has had crises, so it’s easy to find areas that look like they’re from the ‘70s,” said Gallenberger. “On the production side, people were nervous about going to Argentina, but it was amazing. We had a fantastic crew.”
Colonia debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall and had its German bow at the Berlinale in February. Screen Media picked up the feature out of TIFF. The company will open Colonia in over two dozen major market locations including New York at the Village East and Los Angeles at Laemmle NoHo 7 in addition to other areas of Southern California and NYC suburbs, the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Louisville, Phoenix, Cleveland, Santa Fe and others.
Above And Below
Director-writer: Nicolas Steiner
German-Swiss co-production Above And Below is a blend of documentary and drama that takes place on the margins and off the grid of American society. It tells the stories of April, Dave, Cindy, Rick and a man who calls himself ‘the Godfather.’ From a couple scraping by in the depths of the flood channels located beneath Sin City, to a man living in a reclaimed military bunker in the middle of the dusty California desert, and beyond the stratosphere to a place where Mars and Earth have become one and the same place, this motley crew of individuals have been flung into dangerous circumstances.
In the concept stage, Above And Below landed in German producer Helge Albers’ lap via a Swiss co-producer. “By the time I was on board, they had funding in Switzerland and had sold to Swiss television,” said Albers. “The whole thing originated from a photo series Nicolas had done on abandoned places while he was on a Fulbright scholarship living in San Francisco. During that project, he became acquainted with the subjects of the project. It’s a low budget film.” The feature shot between October and December 2013 in the U.S.
Above And Below is also Steiner’s graduate film, though it took on quite a festival life. Editing took place over a long 10 months. Added Albers: “Something I admire is that they were very creative in shooting the film. When there’s a documentary, you do fly on the wall, but this goes beyond the traditional model.”
Above And Below bowed at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and went on to screen at such international fests as New York’s Hot Docs, Edinburgh, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Vancouver and stateside at the recent Sarasota Film Festival. Oscilloscope picked up the title for the U.S. out of Hot Docs. “Our editor was staying in New York for a few weeks and knew someone at the company, so it was on their radar before the festival,” said Albers. Oscilloscope will open the title exclusively at New York’s Village East this weekend.