Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry heads out to theaters around the country this weekend via Focus Features. Starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay and Sarah Silverman, the title had initially been slated for release last fall, and now joins a fairly busy weekend of Specialty alternatives to the summer blockbusters.

Also this weekend: Sony Pictures Classics’ Maudie with Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke and Oscilloscope’s Lost In Paris, which it picked-up in a pre-buy ahead of last year’s Cannes Film Festival. And Abramorama has two documentaries opening Friday in New York: Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All will bow in the East Village, while F(l)ag Football opens exclusively in Chelsea, one week before Gay Pride weekend in the city.

Also opening this weekend is The Journey from IFC Films starring Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney. The film follows two men from opposite sides of the political spectrum who came together to change the course of history in Northern Ireland. It will play at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza beginning Friday.

Additional limited releases include FIP’s Warriors Of the Dawn and Vertical Entertainment’s Pray For Rain.

Focus Features

The Book of Henry
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Maddie Ziegler
Distributor: Focus Features

On the heels of its World Premiere as the Opening Night selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival Wednesday, Focus’ The Book of Henry bows Friday in over five hundred locations. The title had initially been slated for a September 2016 release, but was moved to June, which director Colin Trevorrow said is better suited for the feature starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher and Jacob Tremblay.

“I wanted it to come out in the summer. It could’ve come out [last] September but that was an ‘interesting’ political moment,” said Trevorrow referring to the contentious U.S. election last fall. “[The Book of Henry] takes you through a roller coaster of emotions. It has intense emotions and suspenseful emotions. What I love about summer films is that they take you on that ride.”

In the film, single suburban mother Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her younger son Peter (Jacob Tremblay) is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan’s 12-year-old son Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), whose creativity is without limits. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother – and, through investments, of the family as a whole – Henry blazes through the days like a comet.

Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry’s kind classmate Christina (Maddie Ziegler), has a dangerous secret – and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the center of it.

Trevorrow initially heard about the project in December 2012 when it was still in the screenplay stage. He was on board, but then his gig for Jurassic World came around, so the producers turned to another filmmaker. “I came right back in before [the release of] Jurassic World in 2015,” said Trevorrow. “It spoke to me both as a father of two children and as a filmmaker. I felt it was a story I had to tell.” Production outfits Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Double Nickel Entertainment financed and produced the project.

Trevorrow had a narrow window in which to shoot the feature. He tapped veterans including D.P. John Schwartzman as well as Michael Giacchino who did original music for the feature and editor Kevin Stitt. It shot over 35 days in the fall.

“They were excited by the material and were willing to do something far below their usual pay scale,” said Trevorrow. “It went smoothly from a production standpoint. It was very emotional for me.” He added that audiences should know it is not a downer, however. “This is not a depressing movie, it’s not a bummer. You leave uplifted. I feel like that’s appropriate to June.”

Focus Features will open The Book of Henry in 579 theaters Friday. Trevorrow will be doing in-theater Q&As in Los Angeles on Friday June 16 following the 7:00pm showtime at The Landmark and the 8:30pm showtime at the Arclight Hollywood.

Sony Pictures Classics

Maudie
Director: Aisling Walsh
Writer: Sherry White
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics picked up period drama Maudie following its Telluride and Toronto premieres last fall. The distributor is looking at its release this weekend as classic counter-programming to the summer tentpoles.

Based on a true story, Maudie charts the unlikely romance between Maud Lewis, a folk artist who blossoms in later life, and the curmudgeonly recluse, Everett. Maud, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. When she answers an ad for a housekeeper for the reclusive Everett, a local fish peddler, the two strike up an unlikely romance. Maud’s determination for her art, along with her partnership with Everett, blossoms into a career as a famous folk artist, bringing them closer together in ways they never imagined.

“We’re very excited about Maudie,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “We’ve taken the film around to many film clubs across the country and have had [great] response. It’s very different from the commercial films coming out now. Also, Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke give incredible performances.”

In addition to serving as an alternative to studio fare, SPC is positioning the feature as an escape from the onslaught of negative news. “In this crazy time of rough headlines everyday, people will be [attracted] to a movie that’s about genuine love and humanity,” added Barker. “Plus, [director] Aisling Walsh has done a superb job.”

Barker predicted audiences would be lured to its most recent release, Paris Can Wait, as a pleasurable movie-going experience that provides ‘escape’ from reality, and so far that appears to be the case. Now in its seventh weekend of release with a steady rise in locations, the film has grossed over $2.27M. Paris Can Wait came out strong with a $24,713 PTA in its first weekend in four theaters.

The title plays the Los Angeles Film Festival ahead of its bow in limited release in New York and L.A. beginning Friday. It will then head to San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. the following week and will expand by another dozen cities a week later.

Lost In Paris
Directors-writers: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
Cast: Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, Emmanuelle Riva, Pierre Richard
Distributor: Oscilloscope

Distributor Oscilloscope screened a “mostly-finished” cut of Lost In Paris at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and acquired it as a pre-buy. On this continent, it debuted at last year’s Telluride Film Festival, before heading to festivals here and abroad including Hamptons, Mill Valley, London, Rio, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Palm Springs.

“We were familiar with [filmmakers] Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s previous films, The Fairy and The Iceberg, however those were smaller releases, so as a directing-acting duo they’re still relatively unknown to U.S. audiences,” commented Oscilloscope’s  Andrew Carlin. “Their style of physical comedy — which harkens back to some of the greats like Tati, Keaton and Chaplin — is totally unlike anything else out there today.”

Lost In Paris centers on Fiona’s (Fiona Gordon) whose orderly life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) who is living in Paris. Fiona hops on the first plane she can and arrives only to discover that Martha has disappeared. In an avalanche of spectacular disasters, she encounters Dom (Dominique Abel), the affable but annoying tramp who just won’t leave her alone.

“We think Lost In Paris is the perfect summer movie,” added Carlin. “It’s light and fun but there’s also something exhilarating about it too. Timing-wise, we’re aiming for that core arthouse audience that couldn’t care less about Spider-Man and Transformers 9.”

Oscilloscope will bow Lost In Paris with an exclusive New York run this weekend, followed by Los Angeles later this month. O-scope plans to have the feature in the top 25 markets by July 14, coinciding with French holiday, Bastille Day.

Abramorama

Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All
Director: John Griesser; co-directors Jean Griesser, Lauren Ross
Subject: Srila Prabhupada
Distributor: Abramorama

Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All has a built-in and motivated audience, according to Abramorama which is spearheading distribution for the feature by director John Griesser and co-directors Jean Griesser & Lauren Ross. The title is one of two non-fiction releases the company has this weekend.

Hare Krishna! focuses on the life of Srila Prabhupada – the 70-year-old Indian Swami who arrives in America without support or money in the turbulent 1960s. Suddenly thrust into the raging counterculture, he speaks of the world’s real need – a revolution in consciousness. This captures the attention of a generation of youth seeking answers and ignites a worldwide spiritual, now known as the Hare Krishna movement.

“This is not our [usual] music-centered documentary but it fits the area where we have had substantial success identifying distinct audiences,” said Abramorama’s Richard Abramowitz. “This is a very connected community and the filmmakers are a part of it. The [filmmakers] knew the Swami from way back when and they had been making various films for the community for years.”

Music documentaries have been a staple for Abramorama including the recent Long Strange Trip – The Untold Story of The Grateful Dead, which had a one week run of theatrical showings and special event screenings before heading to Amazon Prime. In April it opened Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, while last year it spearheaded the release of The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years to the tune of over $2.93M. With each, the company targeted the films’ natural audience, a strategy it expects to replicate with Hare Krishna!

“It’s a positive portrayal of the development of the faith in this country,” said Abramowitz. “There’s an audience out there and we want to be in the business of going to theaters with films for people who are interested.”

Hare Krishna! will bow at The Village East in New York this weekend, followed on June 23 in L.A. and other cities around the country. Similarly to its music-oriented releases, this film will have a mixture of one-night event screenings and traditional runs.

Abramorama

F(l)ag Football
Director: Seth Greenleaf
Subjects: Wade Davis, Cyd Zeigler, Jared Garduno, Brenton Metzler
Distributor: Abramorama

Additionally, Abramorama is also opening F(l)ag Football this weekend, one week ahead of Gay Pride in New York.

The feature directed by Tony Award-winning producer Seth Greenleaf (Groundhog Day, The Play That Goes Wrong), follows a group of competitive gay athletes on their journey to the National Gay Flag Football Championships. The film interweaves footage of competitive games, tournament events, off-field relationships, and deeply personal interviews leading up to and through the Gay Bowl in Phoenix, AZ.

“They are obviously distinct audiences,” said Abramowitz referring to F(l)ag Football and Hare Krishna!, which both open Friday. “One of the producers is an old friend of mine. I was attracted to it because it contradicts a lot of stereotypes. It’s fun and seriously competitive. Again here, there is a lot of support from the community…What these films have in common is that they have defined motivated audiences and they share information in very intelligent and entertaining ways.”

F(l)ag Football opens at Cinéapolis in New York followed by select engagements around the country. Added Abramowitz about the release: “In most cases outside New York it’s likely to be more event based.”