Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis’ participation in the project that would become Nacho Vigalondo’s Toronto ’16 debut Colossal changed the film’s trajectory. The title, which newcomer distribution outfit Neon will open this weekend, had initially been conceived as a Spanish-language film, though that changed once the stars boarded.
Now Colossal headlines a fairly busy weekend of Specialty newcomers. Also among the limited release roll-outs are Sundance Selects’ Graduation from celebrated Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu and Well Go USA’s military thriller Mine starring Armie Hammer and Annabelle Wallis. Screen Media Films is opening thriller The Void, which it picked up out of Fantastic Fest last year.
Deon Taylor's So Happy To Be Back With 'Meet The Blacks', Ellen Burstyn Flies In 'Queen Bees' - Specialty Preview
Additionally, STX Entertainment is opening Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest, which is the first of the EuropaCorp titles under a multi-year deal the two outfits penned last January. Set in London in 1940, the drama-romance stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy. Other limited release roll-outs include FilmRise’s Truman, Fox Searchlight’s Gifted and FUNimation Films’ animated title Your Name.
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Director-writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Tim Blake Nelson, Austin Stowell, Agam Darshi
Toronto ’16 debut Colossal with Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis is the debut theatrical roll-out for new distributor Neon, headed by former RADiUS co-head Tom Quinn and Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, which Deadline announced exclusively ahead of Sundance in January. Filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, who began writing the feature in early 2014, defies easy labels.
“The movie doesn’t hew to any one genre,” explained producer Russell Levine of Route One Entertainment, whose company co-financed and co-produced along with Voltage Pictures. “There are very specific aspects of several different genres, but this works.”
Colossal is the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a troubled woman, who returns to her hometown after a breakup only to find that she, along with a childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis), are linked to the motions of giant monsters attacking Seoul. To prevent further destruction, Gloria needs to determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
“It was very hard to see how the script could translate onto screen for a lot of people. You have to make a big leap for any project, but this was a chasm,” said Levine. “And yet, it looks so nice on the other side, you want to just take the leap. It’s a worthwhile story to the lexicon of filmmaking. We had faith that Nacho could pull it off and we believe he certainly did.”
Recent Route One Entertainment projects include The Circle with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, which will have its World Premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival and will be released by STX at the end of the month. The company also announced its collaboration with La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s next project The Claim, produced with Oceanside Media and MPC as well as Sundance ’17 title Landline with Jenny Slate, Edie Falco and John Turturro, which Amazon Studios will release.
Initially, according to Levine, Colossal was conceived as a Spanish-language film with a budget in the “100s of thousands of dollars,” but Vigalondo’s agent managed to get the script to Hathaway and Sudeikis.
“The film’s budget [went up] to under $15M,” said Levine. “It made the movie work so well. You need the driving force of those kinds of actors to get this kind of [multi-genre] film through to audiences. It’s also a strong female empowerment film, which we like.”
Colossal shot over 35 days in Vancouver with second unit done in Seoul, Korea. The title’s Toronto debut provided a platform for its acquisition by a fledgling company headed by industry veterans. “Neon bought it there,” said Levine. “They were a mysterious company with Chinese backers then. We went with them, and we are very glad we did for many reasons. I love the poster, which I think is so important. It brings together essential elements of the film and pushes that complexity in a simple way.”
Neon will open Colossal in limited release this weekend. Preceding the feature, the company will play Peter Huang’s 5 Films About Technology, which had its world premiere in Toronto last year. The company said it is “bringing back the long honored tradition of combining a feature film with a short,” adding, “This will be the first of many shorts to accompany Neon’s slate of feature length films.”
Director-writer: Cristian Mungiu
Cast: Adrian Titieni, Maria Drāgus, Lia Bugnar, Mālina Manovici, Vlad Ivanov
Distributor: Sundance Selects
Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu won Best Director for his work on his latest feature, Graduation (tied with Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper) at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Graduation is the fourth title IFC Films (and its other label, Sundance Selects) has released stateside. The company acquired rights to the film while still in the script stage during Cannes 2015.
Graduation centers on a father driven to extremes in order to protect his daughter’s future. Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni) is a seemingly honest doctor who regrets having settled in his native Romania, a country still teeming with corruption and back dealings. He channels his ambitions for a better life into his teenage daughter, Eliza (Maria Dragus), who’s just one exam away from securing a scholarship to a prestigious British university. But when Eliza is attacked on the eve of her test, endangering her ability to pass, Romeo takes matters into his own hands to ensure her success.
“[Cristian Mungiu] is one of those consummate filmmakers you want to do business with,” said IFC Films/Sundance Selects’ EVP of Acquisitions and Productions Arianna Bocco. “He has an audience in the U.S. His work has become more accessible, complex, and as a filmmaker, he’s just amazing. Filmmakers of this kind come around rarely, so we want to support them whenever possible.”
Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days grossed nearly $1.2M at the box office in 2008, while Beyond The Hills was a more modest $125K in theaters, though presumably it had a good run on demand.
The distributor is expecting good reviews will propel Graduation as it opens in New York at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza this weekend. “I think enough people are familiar with Romanian cinema and we feel reviews will be very positive,” added Bocco. “I think that will lead to [good] word-of-mouth. Graduation plays into what is happening today.”
Following its bow in New York this weekend, Graduation will head to Los Angeles next week as part of its traditional platform roll-out heading further into spring.
Directors-writers: Gabio Resinaro, Fabio Guaglione
Cast: Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen, Clint Dyer, Geoff Bell
Distributor: Well Go USA
Military thriller Mine has grossed nearly $1.7M in Italy and Spain where the film opened ahead of its U.S. bow this weekend. The distributor said it had been tracking the feature while it was still in development and jumped to board the film after the sales company made it available to view. Said Well Go USA’s Dylan Marchetti: “We’ve also found that when we see a film and immediately know how we want to market it, that’s a good sign.”
Mine stars Armie Hammer as a U.S. soldier who, stranded in the desert for 52 hours after a mission falls apart, must fight for survival against his enemies, the hostile environment, and the creeping psychological toll of his treacherous situation.
“This is a well-directed action-thriller that speaks directly to several of our main target audiences, anchored by a stellar Armie Hammer performance,” commented Marchetti. “We’re always on the eye out for a hole in the marketplace, and there’s a death of quality action-thrillers out there right now, so we felt the audience for this film was being underserved both theatrically and digitally.”
Well Go USA has screened Mine for veterans groups and has been “aggressively” pushing the title out through social media. Not surprisingly, it is targeting areas with a military presence or, according to Marchetti, “theaters where we’ve found action films over index,” adding: “We expect the film to find most of its audience on VOD, so our campaign will shift from theaters towards digital and cable platforms over the next week.”
Mine will open in 26 theaters this weekend day and date with on-demand availability across all digital and cable platforms.
Directors-writers: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Cast: Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Walsh, Evan Stern, Daniel Fathers, Grace Munro
Distributor: Screen Media Films
Screen Media Films caught thriller The Void at Fantastic Fest last fall. The company said it views Fantastic Fest as a “place for us to find good horror films,” adding: “The hook of this is the craft, the skill of the creature effects. We saw it as something that horror fans will love.”
The Void centers on officer Carter who discovers a blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road and rushes him to a local hospital with a bare bones night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil.
“The press that came out wrote effusively about the film and that has helped us to market the film. We screened The Void at other festivals including Sitges,” said Screen Media SVP Tom Yagielski. “The buzz among fans is so strong. This has become our biggest pre-sales title on iTunes.”
Screen Media’s previous most pre-ordered film on iTunes was thriller A Good Marriage from a short story by Stephen King.
“We see this one becoming a cult film so we’ve been working with theaters to get the right times,” said Yagielski. “We didn’t want to take too long after the film’s exposure. Last year we had Mickey Keating’s Darling out of Fantastic Fest (2015) and it was a good fit. This is more of an opening between award season and summer blockbusters. Our trailer and poster knocked it out of the park for this. We launched a teaser trailer back in February and that got a lot of buzz going.”
Screen Media Films will open The Void theatrically in 30-plus locations this weekend. It will eventually go to about 60 theaters.
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