A tidy group of specialty bows will head to theaters along with several studio offerings, including Ricki And The Flash, which had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival on Wednesday night. Perhaps no other midsummer festival so comfortably combines a sprinkling of Hollywood alongside a heavy rotation of auteurs including titles that likely will have limited bows stateside this fall or in 2016. But today, Cop Car goes head-on with studio and indie releases. The Focus World release starring Kevin Bacon will bow in a few locations followed by a hefty expansion later in the month. Sundance’s lauded Diary Of A Teenage Girl will make its bow in NYC and L.A. The Sony Classics film could be a star with its title’s namesake audience and beyond. Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson are just some of the marquee names behind Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, the animated tale that GKIDS opens in limited release, while Submarine Deluxe is going pop culture with Sneakerheadz in a limited day-and-date release.
Also this weekend, Rialto will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan with a limited re-release. the film grossed $2.93M for New Line when it opened in 1990. Abramorama will re-release Brett Morgen’s doc Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck, which grossed $140K for a 2015 nonfiction-topping $46K per-screen average in spring and only stayed in theaters about a week. The pic, spearheaded by HBO Documentary Films, then went on to the premium channel and out of theaters. And Alchemy will open The Runner starring Nicolas Cage this weekend.
Director-writer: Jon Watts
Writer: Christopher D. Ford
Cast: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Camryn Manheim, Shea Whigham
Distributor: Focus World
Cop Car was on Focus World’s radar ahead of its debut at Sundance this year. After it screened in the event’s Midnight section, the distributor saw it as recalling earlier classics from the Coen brothers and others and boarded the feature.
The film centers on two rebellious young boys who stumble across an abandoned cop car hidden in a secluded glade and decide to take it for a joyride. When the small-town sheriff (Kevin Bacon) goes looking for his missing car, the boys find themselves in the center of a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, and the only way out is to go as fast as their cop car can take them. Watts wrote the title based on a recurring dream when he was younger.
“Cop Car is an extremely well-told story, and Kevin Bacon is an amazing bad guy,” said Focus World SVP Anjay Nagpal. “It is very suspenseful and it’s easy to see why they chose Jon Watts for the [next installment of the] Spider-Man franchise.” Watts was chosen by Sony Pictures/Marvel studios in the latest iteration of the franchise, which will star Tom Holland.
Focus World hopes to tap a young male core for Cop Car through the remaining days of summer and is partnering with Alamo Drafthouse, which will be among its chief venues for the feature’s release. “Cop Car speaks to their audience,” said Nagpal. “It plays to a cinephile crowd but can also be broader, and it has a great star like Kevin Bacon to pull you in. I think we have the indie audience for sure, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Cop Car recently screened at the Sundance Next Festival (at Hollywood Forever Cemetery) as its Los Angeles premiere. Focus World will open Cop Car in three theaters in New York, L.A. and Austin and will expand to 65 theaters the following week. It will also be on iTunes and other VOD platforms August 14. “This felt like a good slot,” added Nagpal. “There isn’t too much out there right now in the same wheelhouse.”
The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
Director-writer: Marielle Heller
Writer: Phoebe Gloeckner (novel)
Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Sarsgård, Kristen Wiig, Abby Wait, Miranda Bailey
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Writer-director Marielle Heller has had a long journey with The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, a graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, which her sister had given her. She then began a long journey to win the rights to adapt the book into a stage play, which she did in 2010 off-Broadway.
Set in 1976 San Francisco, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl begins at the crossroads of the fading hippie movement and the dawn of punk rock. News commentary of the Patty Hearst trial echoes in the background, as Minnie’s (Bel Powley) young expressive eyes soak in a drug-laden city in transition— where teenage rebellion and adult responsibility clash in characters lost and longing. Minnie’s hard-partying mother (Kristen Wiig) and absent father have left her rudderless. She first finds solace in her mother’s boyfriend Monroe’s (Alexander Sarsgård) seductive smile, and then on the backstreets of the city by the bay. Animation serves as a refuge from the confusing and unstable world around her. Minnie emerges defiant— taking command of her sexuality and drawing on her newfound creative talents to reveal truths in the kind of intimate and vivid detail that can only be found in the pages of a teenage girl’s diary.
“I met Mari when we were going to do another story based on This American Life, but we ultimately couldn’t secure the rights,” said producer Anne Carey. “She had done a terrific job adapting it into a play. It’s an important story of a girl coming of age. It’s a positive depiction of her journey.” Heller had taken Diary to the stage, but both she and Carey had their sights on the big screen. “She hadn’t directed anything, but I said, ‘let’s get it into the Sundance Labs and she did get in,” said Carey. “She came in on it [with determination] to get the movie made.”
Financing came via Bert Hamelinck and Madeline Samit at Caviar and Miranda Bailey at Cold Iron. Carey added that Heller flourished at the Sundance Labs and various logistics including cast and financing started to come together. Heller already had a relationship with Kristen Wiig who signed on to play the mother. Added Carey: “The goal was to always get it into Sundance. It seemed like the perfect place for this movie…We felt that this was a movie that hadn’t been told before. The genre of younger men losing their virginity to older women is all over the place, but there is no film that tells this from the point of view of a young woman and she’s not the victim.”
The Diary Of A Teenage Girl began shooting in January, 2014 in San Francisco over 25 days. Sony Classics had tracked the film ahead of its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Heller won the Cinematography Award at Sundance and the feature went on to pick up prizes at the Berlin, Edinburgh and Palm Springs film festivals. SPC will open the film in limited New York and Los Angeles runs this weekend and will expand it to an additional 8 to 10 markets soon afterward. It will go wide by the time most universities begin their fall terms.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
Directors: Roger Allers (along with segment directors)
Writers: Kahlil Gibran (novel), Roger Allers, Hanna Weg, Douglas Wood
Voices: Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina, Quvenzhané Wallis
Inspired by the classic book by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet is an animated feature film with ‘chapters’ directed by animation directors from around the world. The story is broadly centered on exiled artist and poet Mustafa who embarks on a journey home with his housekeeper and her daughter. Together the trio must evade the authorities who fear that the truth in Mustafa’s words will incite rebellion.
“The Prophet…combines a major person like Roger Allers who directed The Lion King with [segment director] Joann Sfar,” said GKIDS’ Dave Jesteadt. “We’ve been tracking this for many years and couldn’t wait to see the final film. Saw the world premiere of the finished version in Toronto.”
With nine segment directors involved as well as a cadre of producers, GKIDS had a lengthy process before the deal was finalized, though Jesteadt said their initial TIFF meeting was an “earnest” one. “There was a lot of partners in the process so that made it a lot longer process but that’s good because we’re pulling from lots of points of view. Participant is one of them and they’ve been very helpful on aspects of the release here. And from an independent side of things, this is a first for a lot of the producers.”
Participant has revved up its social engagement, something it has shown itself adept at. One aspect of this is introducing The Prophet to schools and the film is, of course, an appeal to Kahlil Gibran fans. His book has sold millions worldwide. “With some films’ sales agents, once they give the film they walk away, but we have a lot of people invested in this personally and they’re interested in having it break through and be a success,” added Jesteadt. “There are people who quote the book at weddings and funerals, so it is emotional.” Jesteadt sees the film as an art house title, but the inclusion of Salma Hayek, who is both a producer and voice in the film, should also appeal to families.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet will open in New York and L.A. this weekend, with early results “looking good,” according to Jesteadt. GKIDS will give the film a “gentle expansion” next week leading into a bigger roll out August 21.
Directors: David T. Friendly, Mick Partridge
Distributor: Submarine Deluxe
Submarine ripped doc Sneakerheadz at the SXSW Film Festival where they sold it to Gravitas Ventures, though the sales company’s distribution wing, Submarine Deluxe. As the title suggests, the feature turns the spotlight on avid fans of sneakers. The feature looks at people who go to extreme lengths such as hiding in trash cans in order to score a pair of retro Jordan 11s or camping for days in sub-zero temperatures for the latest Nike Foamposites. Sneakerheadz also explores how sneakers became such prize collectibles from California to Tokyo and how they have become a cultural force around the world.
“We are all sneaker fans if not actual sneakerheadz over at Submarine so the subject was familiar and we were predisposed to it,” said Dan Braun. “We thought it would be a fun summer release and that it could strike a chord with the many sneaker fans and fanatics out there who view sneaker culture as both high and low fashion.”
Fittingly, Submarine took Sneakerheadz to June’s Sneaker Con event in L.A. (there’s another event in Detroit later this month, followed by Atlanta in September) for grassroots outreach in addition to other hit-the-pavement marketing in New York and L.A. “We’ve had a nice response from mainstream TV press [including] The Today Show and Good Morning America which are both covering it as a pop culture story,” said Braun. “Then we partnered with Complex.com which is doing a large online media campaign on [its site] and across their partner sites which include some of the biggest sneaker collecting websites like solecollector.com. They are debuting exclusive footage not available anywhere.”
Other partners include Vimeo, which will support theatrical and VOD for the film. ATT U-verse has been a day and date partner from the beginning, which Braun said made “the negotiations a bit more labyrinthian than usual, but it all worked out.”
Director David Friendly (a producer on Little Miss Sunshine) along with designer Jeff Staple will be available for Q&As over the weekend at New York’s Village East. It also opens at the Laemmle Music Hall and the Arena in Hollywood with fellow director Mick Partridge doing Q&A duty there. Sneakerheadz will then head to Washington, D.C. August 14. U-verse will open the title day and date August 7 followed by Vimeo August 21 and VOD September 21.
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