Toronto gets its yearly spotlight as the festival debuts the bulk of the films that will crowd theaters this fall and into awards season, though theatrical releases of titles that premiered either there or other festivals continue to roll out this weekend. Sundance’s Sleeping With Other People is potentially a big draw beginning Friday. Starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, the dark romantic comedy was written and directed by Bachelorette filmmaker Leslye Headland and is heading out exclusively into theaters via IFC Films. The company also is opening Richard Gere’s 2014 TIFF feature Time Out Of Mind in a short theatrical bow ahead of on-demand beginning midweek. Film Movement is opening French feature Breathe, which bowed at Cannes last year, in an exclusive New York run this weekend before it heads to other markets, while Samuel Goldwyn Films is taking A Brilliant Young Mind to New York and L.A. followed by the top 30 markets going into next month. And Alchemy is opening romantic comedy docu Meet The Patels in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Sleeping With Other People
Director-writer: Leslye Headland
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Jordan Carlos, Adam Brody, Amanda Peet, Jason Matzoukas, Adam Scott, Natasha Lyonne, Andrea Savage, Billy Eichner
Distributor: IFC Films
Writer-director Leslye Headland returns with her sophomore directorial Sleeping With Other People following her 2012 debut Bachelorette, which has cumed $8.6M via digital/VOD. Her latest will have a traditional theatrical rollout before going on-demand down the road.
The feature revolves around Lainey and Jake (Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis), New Yorkers who meet by chance 12 years after they had a one-night stand in college. They discover they have the same problem: Because of their monogamy-challenged ways, neither can maintain a relationship. Determined to stay friends despite their mutual attraction, they make a pact to keep it platonic — a deal that proves easier said than done.
“After Bachelorette, it felt like everyone was expecting me to make that next movie,” said Headland. “I had a few ideas floating around my head but zeroed on this one because of what was happening in my life personally. I was in love with my best friend, but it wasn’t going to happen, so I thought I’d write [a script] based on that and also touch on the nuances of dating. I think dating is sort of dark right now, so I think it needed that ‘Bachelorette edge’ to it.”
Before diving in on the script, Headland ran into actor Jason Sudeikis at a restaurant. She had met him before and wanted him for the male lead, and he had asked to see the script. “I interrupted their dinner and pitched it to him,” she said. “I hadn’t written anything yet, so I said I’d write it and send it to him.” Headland wrote the script in 2013, and Sudeikis officially boarded the project. “We were helped in that I wrote the script for Jason and his movie We’re The Millers had opened [strongly], so we had some real juice going into it.”
Female lead Alison Brie came on after doing a “chemistry read” with Sudeikis, though that was something Headland was not used to doing. “Our financiers needed to be more familiar with her,” Headland said. “I don’t think they realized she was that girl from Mad Men. … I usually just cast people I know. I don’t have chemistry reads but glad that this happened because it was so magical.”
Ahead of sending the script to Sudeikis, Headland sent it to her Bachelorette producer Jessica Elbaum, who joined Sleeping With Other People and arranged financing through Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.
“It’s great to have a partner like that who is encouraging but also realistic about how the film is going to come to fruition,” said Headland. “[We had] 25 days and between 40 and 50 locations. It’s a horror show, don’t get me wrong, but it’s awesome to shoot in New York because you can have a bar, a church and a street corner that looks awesome all nearby.”
Like Bachelorette, Sleeping With Other People premiered at Sundance, where it played the enormous Eccles theater. IFC Films announced its acquisition of the title soon after the festival. The company will open the feature in five theaters in New York and L.A. this weekend, with Sudeikis, Brie and Headland taking part in Q&As at the Landmark and ArcLight Hollywood at select Friday and Saturday showings.
Time Out Of Mind
Director-writer: Oren Moverman
Writer: Jeffrey Caine
Cast: Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Steve Buscemi, Kyra Sedgwick
Distributor: IFC Films
Richard Gere and filmmaker Oren Moverman had known each other from their work on Todd Haynes’ 2007 feature I’m Not There and later caught up at an event where they began discussing potential new projects. One project, which focuses on the plight of homelessness, had a script and had been in development for a long time. “He didn’t know the best way forward,” said producer Caroline Kaplan. “Richard had been trying to do this for 10 years, [but then] it happened very fast.”
In Time Out Of Mind, Gere plays George, an increasingly desperate man whose life has passed him by. With nowhere to turn, he finds himself adrift on the unforgiving streets of New York City. After exhausting all possible housing options, he seeks refuge at Bellevue Hospital, Manhattan’s largest intake center for homeless men. It proves a harsh and bewildering environment, teeming with marginalized souls. But when George befriends a seasoned shelter-dweller (Ben Vereen), he begins to find hope of repairing his relationship with his estranged daughter (Jena Malone).
“In the context of the conversations we had [combined with] Oren’s past work lead the movie to reveal itself,” said fellow producer Lawrence Inglee. “Richard is on the board of the Coalition for the Homeless, so he was already very familiar with the issue.” Despite Gere’s commitment to the project, the subject matter proved an initial challenge in finding investors, though the team eventually found a group of people committed to the cause. “The team we got were a group of true believers and were committed to the value of telling this story,” said Inglee. “The producing partners also had a passion for supporting the way Oren makes a movie.”
Moverman worked with the script, and the project was ready to shoot at the end of February 2013. As an initial experiment, Gere and a stealth skeleton crew decided to do an experiment in which the actor would appear to be homeless asking for money in Astor Place in downtown Manhattan to see if having Gere in the role would even work. “This movie is predicated on whether people can see him as a homeless person,” said Kaplan. “It was a test for Gere and for our cinematographer to be able to do long shots.” Gere pulled it off on the test day — he asked for money and people he approached mostly avoided him or quickly handed him small change. “It was one of the most uplifting and heartbreaking incidents all at once,” said Inglee. “It profoundly changed [the cast and crew’s] understanding of the story.”
The stealth approach was the modus operandi for the 21-day shoot. Vereen had joined the cast early on, and Moverman brought on Malone, with whom he had worked with on 2009’s The Messenger. IFC Films picked up the title following its debuts in Toronto and New York last fall. Time Out Of Mind opened Wednesday at New York’s IFC Center and will add L.A. and San Francisco locations Friday. The film will be on VOD beginning Tuesday as it rolls into additional markets theatrically on the 18th.
Director-writer: Mélanie Laurent
Writers: Anne-Sophie Brasme (novel), Julien Labroschini
Cast: Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim, Radivoje Bukvic, Roxane Duran, Thomas Solivéres
Distributor: Film Movement
Breathe debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festivals and then played Toronto. Film Movement president Michael Rosenberg screened the film at the European Film Market in Berlin in February. “I was immediately taken by the strength of the two young lead actresses, Joséphine Japy and Lou de Laâge, and the quality of Mélanie Laurent’s direction and storytelling,” noted Rosenberg. “When Mélanie Laurent agreed to support her film by coming to NY, and IFC Center gave us the early-September slot to open the film in New York, things started coming together nicely.”
The film centers on Charlie, an average French suburban teenager. When she becomes fast friends with Sarah, the rebellious new girl at school, she soon discovers there’s nothing average about how she feels. The film is based on a young-adult novel written by Anne-Sophie Brasme written she was only 16. It is being reprinted in a movie tie-in edition by St. Martin’s Griffin.
“[The story] naturally appeals to a younger demographic, and we’re making specific efforts to reach out to college students who are returning to classes for the fall semester,” said Rosenberg. “We absolutely wanted Mélanie Laurent to be present in New York to do in-theater appearances and press interviews and this was one of the weekends she could fly [here]. She has a strong following in the U.S., so we trust her presence will make a difference in boosting the opening weekend numbers and enhancing the visibility of the film not only in New York but nationwide.”
Breathe opens exclusively at IFC Center in NYC this weekend, expanding next week to Westchester just north of the city at the Jacob Burns Center as well as the Royal in Los Angeles and Miami at the Coral Gables Cinema. The film is scheduled to open in 30 markets, with more expected to be added, according to the company.
“Breathe is also significant because it kicks off a new strategy for Film Movement to provide art houses with stronger titles,” said Rosenberg. “We are expanding our theatrical presence nationally and want to support those efforts with more marketing across the board. We hope to consistently develop engaging marketing campaigns, increase the breadth of our grassroots outreach, and build a robust advertising plan for each theatrical title.”
A Brilliant Young Mind
Director: Morgan Matthews
Writer: James Graham
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Filmmaker Morgan Matthews made a series of three documentaries about competitions, all of which aired in 2007. Beautiful Young Minds, which was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award, spotlighted a group of students heading to the International Mathematics Olympiad. One of its subjects, Daniel, was a student with a neurodevelopment disorder that results in mathematical genius. From that, Matthews imagined a dramatic retelling of a similar but fictional story inspired by the personalities and events in Beautiful Young Minds.
In A Brilliant Young Mind, teen math genius Nathan (Asa Butterfield) has trouble building relationships with others, including his caring mother (Sally Hawkins), who grapples with her own loneliness. Nathan finds comfort in numbers. And when he’s taken under the wing of an unconventional and anarchic teacher (Rafe Spall), the pair forge an unusual friendship. Eventually, Nathan’s talents win him a place on the UK’s national team at the International Mathematics Olympiad, and the team travels to a training camp in Taiwan under the supervision of enthusiastic squad leader Richard (Eddie Marsan). In unfamiliar surroundings, Nathan is confronted by a series of unexpected challenges — not least the unfamiliar feelings he begins to experience for his Chinese counterpart, the beautiful Zhang Mei (Jo Yang).
“It’s one of the best-reviewed movies out of Toronto last year, and it’s been killing it at festivals across the country,” said Samuel Goldwyn Films’ Peter Goldwyn. “It’s a movie you don’t see anymore with depth and heart. It’s one of my favorite movies on our slate.” Goldwyn said they’re banking on adult audiences who’ve been turned off by Hollywood summer tentpoles with a potentially broad appeal. “It’s got the full range of human emotion and we’re going to release it in that style,” added Goldwyn. “And the press has been positive so far.”
Samuel Goldwyn Films will bow A Brilliant Young Mind in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, eventually heading to the top 30 markets heading into October.
Meet The Patels
Directors-writers: Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel
Writers: Matthew Hamachek, Billy McMillin
Subjects: Champa V. Patel, Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel, Vasant K. Patel
Meet The Patels is at the same time a documentary and a romantic comedy. The feature debuted at Hot Docs in April 2014, followed by the Los Angeles Film Festival and Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival before going on to the fall circuit and beyond.
“I remember reading a tweet from David Poland that said, ‘How many audience awards does Meet The Patels have to win before a distributor realizes there’s an audience for it,’ or something like that,” said Alchemy SVP Marketing Vincent Scordino. “Ultimately, it was UTA’s relentless effort to champion the film that ensured it was taken seriously. The most important thing to us in choosing the film was its potential to crossover. We saw it and just thought not only is this the year’s best and most original romantic comedy, but it’s relateable regardless of your age, gender or cultural background.”
The real-life romantic comedy centers on Ravi Patel, an Indian-American who enters a love triangle with the woman of his dreams and his parents. The feature was filmed by Ravi’s sister in what started out as a family vacation video to India in the wake of his breakup with his girlfriend. He’s nearly 30, and his parents are freaking out. In his family, everyone has the last name Patel. Patels marry other Patels — who are from the same 50-square mile radius in India. Struck with how overwhelmingly happy the marriages are of his Patel family and friends, Ravi enters a foolproof Patel matchmaking system and embarks on a worldwide search for another American Patel just like him.
“The campaign has targeted two groups in particular, specialty filmgoers and the South Asian community,” said Scordino. “We’ve screened the film extensively and expect word-of-mouth to be our greatest ally. And really the filmmakers have just been extraordinary.” The Patels have traveled across the country to build up awareness ahead of the feature’s theatrical rollout this weekend. Added Scordino: “Ravi in particular has somehow managed all of this while in production on a new TV show – Grandfathered with John Stamos and Josh Peck for Fox.”
Meet The Patels will have a traditional platform release, opening on five screens in New York, L.A. and Chicago. Scordino noted the title will play specialty and traditionally more commercial theaters as it moves into the top 20 markets by Week 3.