Anyone who missed out on the Tribeca Film Festival this year will get a sample with some Specialty releases this weekend. Tom Hanks’ A Hologram For The King by Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer will get a mid-sized bow in a few hundred theaters starting Friday following its World Premiere at the NYC fest this week. Sony Classics will take Susan Sarandon starrer The Meddler to New York and L.A. this weekend, following the U.S. debut at the festival, which continues through this weekend. On the anthology horror front, Tribeca’s Holidays, a collection of short stories each representing a popular holiday directed by ten different filmmakers, will head to theaters via Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films. Non-Tribeca newcomers include IFC Films’ Tale Of Tales by Italian director Matteo Garrone as well as Drafthouse Films’ Men & Chicken by Anders Thomas Jensen.
Also hitting theaters is Amazon and Bleecker Street’s Elvis & Nixon in 381 theaters. Others include Strand’s Sworn Virgin, Distrib Films’ In Harmony and International Wow’s doc How To Let Go Of The World And Love All Things Climate Change Can’t Change. And Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Columbia Pictures will present Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront in over 600 theaters for just four screenings in each venue as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series.
A Hologram for the King
Director-writer: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Dave Eggers (novel)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita
Distributors: Roadside Attractions, Lionsgate, Saban
Two-time-Oscar winner Tom Hanks is going non-blockbuster for his latest feature, A Hologram For The King, directed by celebrated German director, Tom Tykwer. In the feature, Hanks plays an American businessman who is helped by a beautiful doctor (Sarita Choudhury) and a wise-cracking taxi driver (Alexander Black) who’s trying to close the deal of a lifetime in Saudi Arabia.
“I think it’s good to have a big publicity blow-out with a big star,” said Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen. “Tom Hanks [came in] along with Tom Tykwer for the film’s premiere at Tribeca. It [was] a great event.”
Hanks did the morning round of talk shows in support of the title. “We’re doing [a mid-level release] similar to how we opened Mr. Holmes, A Most Wanted Man and Mud,” added Cohen. “The only difference is that we didn’t buy this at a film festival. We [picked it up] at a sales agent screening about a year ago. The movie wasn’t finished when we saw it, so we worked with [Tykwer] a bit in post.”
Saban Films also saw the feature, and Roadside along with frequent distribution partner Lionsgate teamed up as a threesome for the release. Roadside had worked with Saban on the November, 2014 release of The Huntsman ($2.4 million). “This is no Inferno or Sully, but Tom Hanks is a huge star, so this film bridges the gap between studio and art house releases,” said Cohen. “[Hologram] is a gentle comedy-drama, but it still has commercial elements. It has political overtones, but it’s also a personal piece.”
The distributors are opening A Hologram For The King in 350 theaters, mirroring Roadside’s previous mid-level releases. The company bowed Jeff Nichols’ Mudd in 363 theaters in 2013, averaging $6,104 ($21.59M cume); A Most Wanted Man with Philip Seymour Hoffman opened in 361 locations in 2014 averaging $7,444, eventually cuming over $17.2 million and Mr. Holmes by Bill Condon launched in 361 theaters last July averaging $6,745 ($17.73M cume).
Added Cohen: “I think when Tom Hanks did this movie, he knew it was going to be a different one… Its an upscale film for the specialty audience, but our intention is to go to 600 or so theaters in its second week.”
Director-writer: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Cecily Strong, Jerrod Carmichael, Michael McKean
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Sony Classics is eyeing other films including its own Lady In The Van with Maggie Smith as well as Roadside’s Hello, My Name Is Doris starring Sally Field as a template for its latest film, The Meddler, which had its U.S. Debut at Tribeca. In the feature, Susan Sarandon stars as Marnie Minervini, a recent widow and eternal optimist, who moves from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be closer to her daughter (Rose Byrne). Armed with an iPhone and a full bank account, Marnie sets out to make friends, find her purpose, and possibly open up to someone new.
“It’s a universal film. People will really relate to it, especially anyone who is close to their mother,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “It’s obviously an autobiographical film…There’s something so authentic and true-to-life about it. I think the public will be excited to see Susan, J.K. and Rose do these very confident performances.”
Barker noted that Sarandon’s depiction in the film is “one of the best of her career,” hinting that she may be a contender next Awards Season. “It’s a major performance in her career and people are acknowledging that,” said Barker. “I think that people will remember it throughout the year… Look at Lady In The Van and [Hello, My Name Is Doris]. These are films that have substantial audiences with major actresses doing solid performances that the public wants to see.” Sarandon was recently honored with the Cinema Icon Award at the recent CinemaCon.
She also gave a talk at the Film Society of Lincoln Center tied to the weekend’s release of The Meddler. “I don’t know if roles like these are going to someone else…That’s why it’s such a gift,” said Sarandon about her character in the film, Marnie, at the Film Society. “We tried to ground the role as much as possible…but the first time I saw it, she seemed so crazy. But she does what she does through the goodness of her heart.”
SPC will open The Meddler in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, expanding slowly over the next several weeks. Barker said he expects the title to be at its widest around May 20.
Directors: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer, Ellen Reid
Writers: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films
Straight out of Tribeca, horror anthology Holidays is headed to theaters Friday in the wake of a VOD release the day after its World Premiere at the festival. Directed by ten filmmakers, each helming a segment representing a common holiday, the feature puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holiday of all time by challenging folklore, traditions and assumptions.
“I’ve been trying to make Holidays for the past decade or so,” said producer John Hegeman. “Only recently did it [feel like] there has been a resurgence of anthology horror films like The ABCs of Death and V/H/S. So I took the project off the shelf and started repackaging again. With the help of XYZ Films, we were able to put together a great roster of genre filmmakers.”
Hegeman and fellow producers reached out to directors they were fans of and knew in addition to others whose films they admired. “We had to work with filmmakers’ schedules. Of course many had other projects they were working on,” said Hegeman. “We started production about a year-and-a-half ago and finished about two-and-a-half months ago. [The directors] got their scripts together and got a budget later. Every director had a specific script and were given similar amounts.”
Unlike other anthologies, Holidays does not have a common thread that unites them all. Hegeman said the production wanted each segment to be an individual story. “We wanted to present them as you would encounter [holidays] in the calendar year chronologically,” said Hegeman. “We used the device of a greeting card between each [segment]. It was important for us to have each holiday as its own standalone.”
Holidays became available via VOD and iTunes April 15 following its Tribeca debut. The anthology’s theatrical release will be handled by Vertical Entertainment at AMC Empire in New York and the Laemmle in Santa Monica. “It’s performing nicely on demand,” added Hegeman. “It’s a great treat for hardcore horror fans.”
Tale of Tales
Director-writer: Matteo Garrone
Writers: Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudioso
Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly
Distributor: IFC Films
IFC Films takes on Italian director Matteo Garrone’s latest, starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly. The Baroque fantasy is based on three stories of magic and the macabre by 17th-century folklorist Giambattista Basile.
The feature unleashes a barrage of gorgeous and fantastical imagery as it brings to life the misadventures of three kings: in the kingdom of Darkwood, the King (Reilly) and his Queen (Hayek) attempt to conceive a child through very unusual means; meanwhile, in Highhills, the less-than-bright monarch (Toby Jones) marries off his daughter to brutal ogre while developing a strange obsession with breeding a giant flea; and, the sex-obsessed monarch of Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) is in for a shock when the woman he falls in love with is not quite what she seems.
“The fairytale story felt right for a late April release and a roll out into May,” commented IFC Films exec Mark Boxer. We fell in love with the film in Cannes as it was like nothing we had never seen before. We had previously released the very successful Gomorrah with Matteo Garrone.”
Gomorrah had a slow start when it first rolled out in December, 2008, only grossing $5,532 in a single location, though it picked up steam as it expanded, eventually cuming over $1.57M domestically. The title hauled in over $34.8M worldwide. Garrone’s last theatrical bow on this side of the Atlantic was Reality in 2013, which only took in $73K at the box office.
IFC Films premiered Tale Of Tales on exclusively on DirecTV on March 24 ahead of its theatrical opening this weekend at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza in addition to VOD. Added Boxer about the title’s theatrical launch: “We liked the opening date [to be] in spring so we can stay far enough ahead of the summer studio releases, and believe there is room in the marketplace to grow the platform release.”
Men & Chicken
Director-writer: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, David Dencik, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Søren Malling, Nicolas Bro
Distributor: Drafthouse Films
Danish-born filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen said the inspiration for Men & Chicken came from his children. The dark slapstick comedy focuses on a pair of socially-challenged siblings who discover they are adopted half-brothers in their late father’s videotaped will.
Their journey in search of their true father takes them to the small, insular Danish island of Ork, where they stumble upon three additional half-brothers — each also sporting hereditary harelips and lunatic tendencies — living in a dilapidated mansion overrun by barn animals. Initially unwelcome by their newfound relatives, the two visitors stubbornly wear them down until they’re reluctantly invited to stay. as the misfit bunch get to know each other, they unwittingly uncover a deep family secret that ultimately binds them together.
“I often start a new script by creating a character and through that character a story flows,” commented Jensen, who won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short for Valgaften in 1999. “As for this movie. I had Mads Mikkelsen in mind right from the beginning. Somehow I think I spun a thread from his disgusting and self-centered character Svend in The Green Butchers to the obnoxious Elias in Men & Chicken, trying to work my way around a main character that I would hope the audience would still connect with…even in his own misfortune and complete lack of social skills.”
A veteran writer of movies and television, Jensen has tapped many of the same cast for his four big screen features. Men & Chicken shot over seven weeks mostly in Germany, in addition to a rural location in Denmark. “I spent a lot of time rehearsing the scenes with the actors and encourage them to participate actively in the process of character development,” added Jensen. “Financing gets a great start with a cast like the one in this movie.”
Anders met Drafthouse Films at Fantastic Fest where Men & Chicken had its U.S. bow following premieres at the Munich and Toronto film festivals. The feature will open at the Nuart in Los Angeles, which, will include Q&As with Jensen, as well as IFC Center in New York. The title expands to Atlanta, Austin and Dallas the following week with five cities including San Francisco, Boston, Portland, OR, Seattle and Washington, D.C. slated for May 6. Other markets are planned throughout May and into June.