Specialty distributors targeting adult audiences have had some success this summer with “alternative” offerings including Eye in the Sky, Love and Friendship, Café Society, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and others. Bleecker Street and IFC Films are hoping to tap those audiences with new releases this weekend Anthropoid and Disorder. Bleecker Street’s Anthropoid, starring Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy is the weekend’s largest roll out with over several hundred theaters, while IFC Films’ Disorder bows day and date. Also this weekend, HBO Documentary Films will open its feature Abortion: Stories Women Tell in select locations ahead of its broadcast on the network, while the filmmakers behind DOC NYC’s The Lost Arcade are going DIY with their release in New York today.

Also among the films opening in limited release this weekend are Film Movement’s Cannes 2015 feature My King, Lionsgate Premiere’s Joshy, Operation Chromite from CJ Entertainment, The Orchard’s Ghost Team, and CBS Films’ Hell or High Water on 32 screens.

Bleecker Street

Director-writer: Sean Ellis
Writer: Anthony Frewin
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe
Distributor: Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street picked up WWII thriller Anthropoid last spring. The film is based on the true story of “Operation Anthropoid,” the code name for the Czechoslovakian operatives’ mission to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich.

Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution, was the Reich’s third in command behind Hitler and Himmler and the leader of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia. The film follows two soldiers from the Czechoslovakian army-in-exile, Josef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubiš (Jamie Dornan), who parachute into their occupied homeland in December 1941. With limited intelligence and little equipment in a city under lock down, they must find a way to assassinate Heydrich, an operation that could change the face of Europe.

“The target audience of this is adults, which is very appropriate for what Bleecker Street is all about. We’re focused on releasing movies for a sophisticated audience,” said the company’s President of Distribution, Jack Foley. “We’re carrying on with the momentum built this summer by adult-oriented films” like Eye in the Sky (Bleecker Street, $18.7M), Love and Friendship (Roadside Attractions, $13.88M), Café Society (Amazon/Lionsgate, $7.1M), Indignation (Roadside Attractions, $560,512), Captain Fantastic (Bleecker Street, $3.74M) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (The Orchard, $3.46M).

Bleecker Street is eyeing older males and WWII buffs 45 and above to drive initial interest as Anthropoid hits theaters this weekend. “It’s a true story about what happened behind this operation,” added Foley. “We are using various media in our campaign along with television.” The film is a sponsor of a recent public television series spotlighting past Olympics, including the infamous Berlin ’36 Games under the glare of the Nazis.

Bleecker Street will open Anthropoid today in over 440 theaters and will expand from there based on response. “We’re going to take advantage of the end of summer,” added Foley. “The last weeks of August can be a golden time.”

IFC Films

Director-writer: Alice Winocour
Writers: Jean-Stéphane Bron
Cast: Diane Kruger, Matthias Schoenaerts, Paul Hamy
Distributor: IFC Films

IFC Films caught Alice Winocour’s Disorder at its premiere in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. In the film, Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) stars as Vincent, a troubled Afghanistan veteran who, after being discharged from the army, becomes bodyguard to the wife (Diane Kruger) and young son of a wealthy Lebanese businessman at their luxurious villa on the French Riviera. But trapped in a perpetual mental war-zone, the unstable Vincent must determine which dangers to the family are real and which are the product of his PTSD-fueled paranoia.

“Alice Wonocour has directed a great thriller, she’s really someone to watch,” said IFC president Jonathan Sehring. “We see this as one for the art house, but it’s going to do great on-demand on various platforms. It’s a really top thriller, and it has a cast that’s familiar with American audiences. We’re targeting the smart, adult thriller crowd.”

Sehring noted that IFC Films had success with its German-Polish produced thriller Phoenix, which opened in late July last year. The feature grossed over $30K in two theaters its opening weekend, going on to cume nearly $3.2 million. Music Box released Alice Winocour’s first feature directorial, Augustine, in May 2013 grossing over $107K in theaters.

“We’re counting on Disorder to be review driven,” added Sehring. IFC Films will open Disorder at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center in New York in a day and date roll out today. The title will head to Los Angeles next week heading into a slow platform release.


Abortion: Stories Women Tell
Director: Tracy Droz Tragos
Distributor: HBO Documentary Films

HBO Documentary is returning to an ever-contentious issue with Abortion: Stories Women Tell in the wake of their 2010 film 12th & Delaware. The new film focuses not on the debate around the issue of abortion, but rather on the women themselves: those struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to sway decisions and lives. By showing both sides of the issue, the film is able to focus on the personal stories these women have in common.

“I’ve always wanted to work with Sheila Nevins and Sara Bernstein at HBO [Documentary Films],” said filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos. “We talked about what was missing in abortion films and that was the patient’s voice. We thought if we could gain the trust and understanding of why women wanted to do this, this could be very powerful story. Their collaboration was huge. I don’t know that I could have been able to tackle this without them.”

Tragos began working on the project not long after her previous documentary feature Rich Hill, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, focusing on her home state of Missouri, which had a proposed requirement for a 72 hour waiting period.

“The process was organic,” she said. “We began reaching out to friends and family in Missouri. There was a lot of talking on the phone…On the eve of the vote [for a mandatory waiting period], I joined the throng of media in the General Assembly.” Additionally, through her stepfather, who is a Unitarian minister, she made contact with Planned Parenthood just as the controversial “undercover videos” surfaced.

“We continued filming for about 16 months,” said Tragos. “We didn’t want to coerce anyone into speaking. We’d start with a conversation off camera [and found] many women that did want to share their stories. They wanted to do it both for themselves, because some felt they were disenfranchised, and also for other women.”

HBO Documentary gave Tragos space through the project’s rough cut, and then set up meetings after that with the aim of finding a balanced approach. “We didn’t want to have an advocacy piece,” said Tragos. “That balance was hard, but of course, it’s going to be in the eye of each audience member.”

Abortion: Stories Women Tell debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring. HBO Documentary Films will open the title in select cities today ahead of its debut on HBO.

26 Aries

The Lost Arcade
Director: Kurt Vincent
Writer: Irene Chin
Subject: Jason Scott Sadofsky
Distributor: 26 Aries (self-distributed)

Kurt Vincent’s directorial debut The Lost Arcade debuted at DOC NYC before heading to the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The title spotlights a once-ubiquitous cultural phenomenon on the edge of extinction, especially in New York City, which once had video arcades by the dozens. These arcades were as much social hubs to meet up and hang out as they were public arenas for gamers to demonstrate their skills. But by 2011, only a handful remained, most of them corporate affairs, leaving the legendary Chinatown Fair on Mott Street as the last hold-out of old-school arcade culture.  Opened in the early 1940’s, Chinatown Fair, famous for its dancing and tic tac toe playing chickens, survived turf wars between rival gangs, increases in rent, and the rise of the home gaming system to become an institution and haven for kids from all five boroughs.

“I moved to New York and fell in love with the city, but even in a few short years I could see how there was rapid change going on — some good and some bad,” said Vincent. “When I discovered Chinatown Fair, it represented the authenticity I respect and gravitate toward. When I heard it was closing, I thought somebody should be there to see that. It’s the last coin-operated arcade in the city, so I figured it has to be one of the last in the world.”

Producer Irene Chin and Vincent immersed themselves in the community and began filming in 2011, focusing on the “human interest” side of the arcade. The filmmaking team launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising $30K from 498 backers, which resulted in some press attention that in turn hooked them up with a valuable partner.

“That got us connected to [games and entertainment media site] IGN.com, which came on board as executive producers and funders,” said Vincent. “This is my first time directing and it turned out I was very naive in my early approach, but quickly realized that. I found a mentor in [executive producer] Josh Zeman who connected me with a D.P. He was there every step of the way. It definitely would not be the movie that it is without Josh.”

Initially Vincent thought the feature would be a six-month shoot followed by six months of editing, but the story continued to evolve, greatly lengthening the shooting time. Vincent and the team heard word a new arcade was set to open in Brooklyn and then they received a call that Chinatown Fair would re-open.

Following its festival debuts, the group fielded distribution offers, but decided to go DIY after none of the proposals given to them by companies made financial sense. “People were telling us we couldn’t get back what we invested and we weren’t in a position to do that,” said Vincent. “And after four years, I only wanted to give this to someone who believed in it as much as we did.” After forming an LLC, the filmmakers teamed up with boutique movie marketing company Wheelhouse Creative and brought on Brigade Marketing for its publicity needs. At DOC NYC, they met the programmers at the newly opened Metrograph theater, which offered to screen the film in New York, where it will play this weekend. The feature played the Roxy last week in San Francisco, and other playdates are pending along with VOD.