Patsy, Edina and their every boozing, pill-popping indulgence continue their quest for eternal hipsterdom with a trip to the big screen, more than 20 years after the debut of their groundbreaking BBC comedy series. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has opened robustly in Britain and will now have a chance to flash its glitter across the pond. The Fox Searchlight title opens in a fairly busy weekend of Specialty newcomers, though it is the ‘widest release’ among features making limited screen debuts. Mike Birbiglia’s second feature directorial Don’t Think Twice joins the group of weekend openers via Film Arcade, also tapping into laugh-seeking audiences. Other weekend debuts include such foreign offerings as Reliance Entertainment’s Indian-produced thriller Madaari, horror pic Train to Busan from Well Go USA, and Strand Releasing’s French romance Summertime.
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Also opening in limited release this weekend is IFC Films’ The Childhood of a Leader, directed by Brady Corbet and starring Robert Pattinson in a day and date bow. It will open theatrically in New York this weekend, followed by Los Angeles a week later. Gravitas Ventures will open The Blackout Experiment, which premiered in Sundance’s Midnight section, day and date in select theaters Friday.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Writer: Jennifer Saunders
Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks, Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness, Lulu, Kate Moss, Dawn French, Emma Bunton, Chris Colfer, Jerry Hall, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Jon Hamm, Joan Collins
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
The 1990s BBC’s hit comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, based on a sketch created by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, is finally getting to theaters after years of speculation. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as Edina and Patsy as the ever-aspiring duo seeking the limelight and la dolce vita, shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hotspots. On a mission to get Kate Moss as a client for her withering PR company, Edina accidentally pushes the supermodel into the Thames River at an uber fashionable launch party, causing a media frenzy. Edina and Patsy then flee, penniless, to pursue the glamorous life of the French Riviera, hatching a plan to make their escape permanent.
“The AbFab family invited me to join the team,” said producer Damian Jones. “Maureen Vincent who reps Jennifer Saunders saw a film I produced, Dad’s Army (2016), which was also [initially] a TV show. They asked if I’d be interested in putting [AbFab] together about 14 months ago.” Jones met Saunders and original TV producer Jon Plowman, and just before Cannes asked Saunders to “sew the seeds” of what an AbFab movie would look like. “Saunders said that Patsy and Edina were on the run because they killed Kate Moss,” said Jones. “That was all I needed. After we showed Fox the first presentable draft, they snapped it up. The original cast were up for it and we found a window of availability.”
BBC, which produced the original series, came in with some financing, though the bulk came via Fox. The shoot began in the south of France – including Cannes, Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Villefranche – toward the end of the last summer season. “Early on we were told to shoot for a July release,” said Jones. “The second half of the movie takes place in the Riviera so we knew we wanted to get the end of the season when all the hotels and restaurants are still open.”
The feature includes a number of mostly British celebrities playing themselves and more than happy to do so. Designers both established and up-and-coming wanted their wears in the movie, decking out the film in over-the-top haute couture. Overall, the shoot included two weeks in France and five in London.
Fox opened the title in the United Kingdom July 1 and has grossed nearly £13.2M in three weeks. “In the U.K., it’s been a nice tonic for a rather depressing time we find ourselves in here,” said Jones referring to Brexit. “It might be a tonic of another sort for [the U.S.].”
Fox Searchlight will open Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie in 315 theaters across the U.S. and Canada today. Noted Searchlight’s Frank Rodriguez: “We will be in every major market as well as most medium sized cities on this date and are hopeful we will be expanding slightly on July 29 as well.”
Don’t Think Twice
Director-writer: Mike Birbiglia
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher
Distributor: The Film Arcade
Don’t Think Twice is the second directorial feature for Mike Birbiglia. The idea for the film, which he also wrote, came when he did an improv show three years ago with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
The feature follows a popular New York improv troupe called The Commune, whose members Miles, Samantha, Jack, Allison, Bill and Lindsay do comedy without a net. They’re ingenious, they’re fast, and they build on each others’ ideas like the best friends they are. Night after night they kill onstage, waiting for the big break. Day after day they work menial jobs to support themselves. Then comes news that their theater is closing, and scouts from a hit SNL-like TV show are looking for talent. Only two cast members get the gig, upsetting the group dynamic, leaving its future in doubt forcing the friends to face facts that some need to let go of the dream.
At the UCB show that inspired the movie three years ago, Birbiglia’s wife “said that everyone on stage was equally talented, but ‘this one was on SNL,’ and ‘this one was on another show,’ while ‘this other one was living on a mattress in Queens,” said the filmmaker/actor. “It was all true. It felt high stakes and it also felt like a good idea, so I started writing.”
Birbiglia wrote a series of drafts over 18 months. While he was working on Trainwreck, he pitched the idea to Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow. “Their feedback was positive, so I thought I should keep exploring it,” said Birbiglia, adding somewhat jokingly: “Judd would taunt me and point to his director’s chair and say, ‘I bet you want to be here.’ He was hitting on a sore spot the way comedians do.”
When Film Arcade, along with private investors, boarded the project, Birbiglia decided not to pursue studios because he wanted to maintain his voice. “Studios like to have a hand in the artistic process,” he said. “I feel like some cast would have been replaced. I didn’t want it to be a movie that was an imitation of the world of improv, I wanted a movie that ‘was’ the world of improv.”
Birbiglia had been doing improv with Don’t Think Twice stars Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher, who joined early on, and reached out to Keegan-Michael Key. “I felt if he would do it, it would be a miracle, and he really took to the script,” said Birbiglia. “Gillian Jacobs was a recommendation from Lena Dunham.”
Birbiglia walked the streets of New York with his cinematographer to find locations, and the feature was shot over 5 1/2 weeks in August and September. “I had a policy on this film to have no assholes,” said Birbiglia. “I just don’t have time for it. I told them that if you’re here, it’s because you’re not an asshole. The crew and cast gave their heart and soul to the film.”
Don’t Think Twice debuted at the SXSW Film Festival this year. It will have a limited traditional theatrical release this weekend, heading to the top ten markets by its third weekend, followed by continual expansion.
Director: Nishikant Kamat
Writers: Ritesh Shah
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi, and Nirmal Kumar
Distributor: Reliance Entertainment
Reliance boarded Indian-produced thriller Madaari for non-Indian markets just about a month-and-a-half ago. The feature is a story of Nirmal, a man who loses everything and embarks on a journey seeking accountability, sending him on a deadly path. The journey brings out the extraordinary in an ordinary man.
“In [the past year] we have distributed films like Talvaar, Wazir and TE3N, which had engaging story patterns,” said Reliance Big Entertainment COO Shibasish Sarkar. “Madaari, directed by the very talented Nishikant Kamath and acted by the versatile Irfan Khan, is loosely inspired by certain true events, which we believe will engage audiences.”
Similar to many Indian-produced titles with a global footprint, Madaari will bow simultaneously in international territories alongside its release on the sub-continent. A summer release was planned to “optimize” audience demand, according to Sarkar, who added: “Though it is set in India, [the feature] is a universal story. It’s a story of a father and son, and a story of redemption which will cut across all demographics. Led by Irfan Khan, we believe the story will not only attract South Asian audiences, but will break into other demographics.”
Madeira will open in North America in 52 theaters in as many cities, with a planned expansion the following week.
Train To Busan
Director-writer: Yeon Sang-ho
Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Eui-sung
Distributor: Well Go USA
Well Go USA saw – and picked up – Korean thriller Train to Busan in Cannes. The zombie-horror pic follows a group of terrified passengers fighting through a countrywide viral outbreak while trapped on a blood-drenched (and suspicion-filled) bullet train ride to the resort city of Busan.
“It’s a critically acclaimed, fast-paced thrill ride that syncs up perfectly with our talents at marketing Asian genre titles to both the diaspora audience and the arthouse-fan audiences that love these films,” said Dylan Marchetti, Well Go USA SVP, Acquisitions and Theatrical Distribution. “While it takes a steady hand and a steel stomach to release a film with multiple marketing campaigns on the same day as it launches in Asia, it’s worth it for the right film, which this one definitely is.”
Well Go USA is targeting Korean-Americans, who are avid consumers of South Korean media. The distributor, therefore, benefits from the wide release advertising campaign in South Korea. Well Go USA is supplementing on this side of the Pacific with what Marchetti said are “street teams and outdoor advertising in all key markets” in “Korean neighborhoods and hangouts.”
In South Korea, Train to Busan opened Wednesday July 20, breaking Captain America: Civil War’s record as the biggest opening day of all time with over 857K admissions. Noted Marchetti: “The reviews and buzz are great, and social channels are lit up with people excited to go this weekend. Train to Busan is on track to be one of the highest grossing films of the year in South Korea. That’s why we [are opening close to its launch in] South Korea. It makes things more difficult and faster-paced, but the payoff can be incredible.”
Well Go USA will open Train to Busan initially in markets with heavily populated Korean audiences Friday in about 30 cities. Said Marchetti: “We’ll then expand the film throughout the summer on the arthouse circuit, followed by a big push for the digital and home video release at the end of the year.”
Director-writer: Catherine Corsini
Writer: Laurette Polmanss
Cast: Cécile de France, Izïa Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky
Distributor: Strand Releasing
In time for the anniversary of its World Premiere at last year’s Locarno Film Festival, Strand Releasing is opening French title Summertime this weekend.
Set in 1971 France, Summertime centers on farmers’ daughter Delphine, who moves to Paris to break free from her rural lifestyle and gain financial independence. There, she meets Carole, a Parisian feminist (with a boyfriend) and the two women engage in an affair that turns their lives upside down.
“We found the picture when it premiered in Locarno where it was well-received,” said Strand Releasing co-president Marcus Hu. “We worked with [filmmaker] Catherine Corsini with La Répétition (2001) starring Emmanuelle Béart. She’s one of those classical filmmakers we had been wanting to work with again.”
Strand is relying on reviews to push the title as it gets into theaters this weekend. Hu noted a “great review” from the Village Voice. “We’re still hoping for more,” he added. Summertime also played a string of U.S. festivals including Montclair, Seattle as well as LGBT events in Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and others.
Strand will open Summertime at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center in New York as well as Laemmle’s Royal in L.A., Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and Claremont 5 this weekend. It will head to additional markets in Durham, Santa Fe, Austin and Portland throughout summer.
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