This weekend’s specialty offerings are comparatively light compared to last week’s openings. A few of this week’s new limited releases are forgoing the typical New York and Los Angeles showings, with Music Box’s The Deep Blue Sea heading to both cities and some suburban locations in those metropolitan areas as well as south Florida. Likewise Paladin’s Musical Chairs will roll out in south Florida and will hold off on L.A. until the second weekend. Sony Classics will take The Raid: Redemption to 10 “exclusive runs” this weekend after screening the film at recent festivals this year hoping to build momentum. IFC Films, meanwhile, is hitting NYC and LA with its sci-fi fantasy 4:44 Last Day On Earth with Willem Dafoe.
The Deep Blue Sea
Director: Terence Davies
Writers: Terence Davies, Terence Rattigan
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Ann Mitchell
Distributor: Music Box Films
Director Terence Davies (The House Of Mirth) proved to be the big financing draw getting The Deep Blue Sea off the ground, producer Sean O’Connor told Deadline. Davies had not directed a narrative feature in a decade, but getting him behind the camera made fund raising surprisingly easy. “It’s a period movie made for 2.4 million pounds,” O’Connor said. “Financing was much more straightforward than I thought it would be, I was surprised by how straightforward it was. But Terence was the main draw.” There was some initial difficulty finding resources until the script was completed, but O’Connor said that Davies writes “very detailed scripts,” so that helped to sell the project when the U.K. Film Council chimed in with 1 million pounds followed by others. During production, the British government axed the Film Council, which caused worry their money would suddenly disappear. “They still funded it because it had been offered already,” O’Connor said.
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Production came together pretty quickly after the script was completed in August 2010. The film about a wife of a British judge who is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot, was completed by Christmas that year. Music Box will open The Deep Blue Sea in New York this Friday in a number of runs (2 in Manhattan and 9 in nearby suburbs) as well as 5 locations in Los Angeles and 13 in Miami and south Florida. “Clearly we are not chasing per screen average,” a Music Box spokesperson noted.
Director: Susan Seidelman
Writer: Marty Madden
Cast: Leah Pipes, E.J. Bonilla and Priscilla Lopez
Musical Chairs had been in the project stage for eight years before director Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan) came on board. Financing was nevertheless an obstacle after she joined, but she said she found an inexpensive production ally in New York City. “My challenge was doing the shoot on that budget, but for me fortunately the film was made in New York City and I’m a New York City girl,” Seidelman told Deadline. “Everywhere you point the camera there’s great production design. New York offers a very inexpensive backdrop and it always looks great.” Seidelman said her goal was to find new talent, so didn’t “go for movie stars” with this project.
Now that the film is done, the next challenge of course will be the roll out with a very limited P&A, so the plan, according to Seidelman, who is also an executive producer, is to go for word of mouth after targeting their natural audiences. “Some groups we are targeting are people who are into dance and disabled audiences because one character is a paraplegic,” Seidelman said. “Part of the movie is set in the Bronx, so we are also reaching out to Latino audiences and then we’re going to try and expand out from those target groups.” Musical Chairs will open in several theaters in New York City and south Florida this weekend followed by Los Angeles, Chicago and other big cities in the following weeks.
The Raid: Redemption
Director Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Ananda George and Ray Sahetapy
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Sony Classics first saw footage of The Raid: Redemption in Cannes last year and came on board as distributor and brought the film to Sundance this year. SPC co-president Tom Bernard told Deadline that the key with this project was the skill of Welsh-born director Gareth Evans in keeping a “tight budget,” describing his ability as “amazing.” Bernard’s colleagues at Screen Gems bought re-make rights for the Indonesian-language film, which will of course be done in English. “This is an auteur film and falls in the realm of what we do,” Bernard said.
Screening this week at New York’s New Directors/New Film series ahead of its release this weekend, SPC is initially targeting film-goers who are “on the inside who get their information from film websites,” Bernard said, adding that its recent SXSW showing was sold out. “The noise from that screening was great,” he said. SPC will open the film in 10 cities “very exclusively” the first weekend and then add more commercial theaters in those cities the following week. ” It is an Indonesian film made by a Welshman,” said Bernard. “We’re trying to get people to ease into it and want the zeitgeist to catch on.”
4:44 Last Day On Earth
Director: Abel Ferrara
Writer: Abel Ferrara
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh, Natasha Lyonne
IFC Films picked up sci-fi fantasy 4:44 Last Day On Earth prior to September’s opening of the New York Film Festival where it had its North American debut. IFC Films’ Ryan Werner noted the film attracted the distributor because it is “a real New York film that is not only one of its most personal but also one of its best.” Abel Ferrara and star Shanyn Leigh will make appearances at the opening screenings at New York’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and IFC Center. “We’re targeting the arthouse crowd who likes adventurous filmmaking but there is also a spiritual element to this film,” noted Werner who added that Ferrara and Willem Dafoe have done a “full round of publicity” in addition to festival screenings. Dafoe plugged the film on a round of TV and radio including Charlie Rose, Morning Joe, NPR as well as print campaigns. In addition to its NYC roll out, 4:44 Last Day On Earth will open at the Monica in Los Angeles.
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