A James Cameron film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t typically the kind of title that ends up at the Specialty box office, but a restored 3D version going out in several hundred theaters via a distributor that typically handles French titles in the U.S. makes for interesting bedfellows. Distrib Films US will open the 3D conversion of Terminator 2: Judgement Day in several hundred AMC theaters today. Meanwhile, Dunkirk star Jack Lowden plays The Smiths frontman Morrissey in Mark Gill’s England Is Mine, a biopic focused on the singer’s early life in Manchester, England. Oscilloscope is opening French-Russian dance drama Polina stateside. The title debuted at last year’s Venice Film Festival. And Well Go USA is bowing Korean action-thriller The Villainess in New York and L.A. before adding more cities post-Labor Day weekend.
Among other limited release titles opening this weekend are Neon’s Beach Rats by Eliza Hittman and starring Harris Dickinson at the Sunshine and Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York as well as the Arclight Hollywood and FIP is opening The Gentleman.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D
Director-writer: James Cameron
Writer: William Wisher, Jr.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boen, Joe Morton
Distributor: Distrib Films US
James Cameron’s 1991 sci-fi action classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day returns to the big screen in 3D today in several hundred AMC theaters across the country. The 3D restoration was a project initiated by Lightstorm Entertainment, Cameron’s production company, along with DMG Entertainment and StudioCanal. Similar to the Titanic 3D conversion, Lightstorm oversaw the work on Terminator 2, which took place over nearly a year, according to Distrib Films US which is handling the latest theatrical release in this country. TriStar released the original Terminator 2: Judgment Day in July 1991, topping over $204.8M in the U.S. box office.
Distrib Films first saw the 3D version at its Berlin premiere earlier this year, though it signed the deal in the wake of the 2016 AFM.
The feature takes place ten years after the events of Terminator. Sarah Connor’s ordeal is just beginning as she struggles to protect her son John, the future leader of the human resistance against the machines, from a new Terminator, sent back in time to eliminate the child. Sarah and John don’t have to face this terrifying threat alone however. The human resistance have managed to send them an ally, a warrior from the future ordered to protect John Connor at any cost.
Distrib Films US has partnered with StudioCanal for the past three years on French films released stateside. T2 is in their library and the distributor approached StudioCanal about potentially handling its release.
“We had to convince them that we were capable of raising the P&A for this kind of release and pitch them our marketing and booking ideas,” said François Scippa-Kohn, CEO of Distrib Films US. “We explained who we would be working with and how we saw the whole plan, and they were convinced.”
The man synonymous with Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has supported the title’s re-release through social media. Scippa-Kohn noted the former California governor’s “many commitments outside cinema” skirting most traditional media despite “huge interests from prime time TV shows and big papers around the country.” Added Scippa-Kohn: “Given his fanbase across all platforms, this was great and drew a lot of attention to the release.”
Distrib Films worked with Metal Rabbit Media to create updated assets including animated posters and 3D stills to reach the movie’s fanbase, emphasizing that despite being 26 years-old, it is “modern.”
“When you watch T2 you can’t believe this movie was made in 1991, and the materials we managed to share with fans never felt like they were ‘old,’” said Scippa-Kohn. “Facebook’s T2 page has around 4M fans. We played with the material including talent images and interviews to bring information and news to the audience on an almost daily basis for nearly two months. Similar material is used on our digital and television ads [as well as] in theaters displays and print ads.”
Box office results from its exclusive first-week run at AMC theaters will determine how it proceeds in the following week, according to Distrib Films, though the company said its pre-sales indicate it has momentum. Concluded Scippa-Kohn: “We’re then opening to other theaters and many have shown a lot of interest.”
England Is Mine
Director-writer: Mark Gill
Writer: William Thacker
Cast: Jack Lowden, Jessica Findlay, Jodie Comer, Peter McDonald, Laurie Kynaston, Simone Kirby
Distributor: Cleopatra Entertainment
Oscar-nominated director Mark Gill grew up on the same street in Manchester, England as Steven Morrissey, the frontman for The Smiths who later launched a solo pop star career under the monicker Morrissey. Gill fell in love with the music which also sparked an interest in getting to know more about the singer.
“I started working on the film in 2014. I had been thinking about it for a long time,” said Gill. “We started writing it after our BAFTA nomination [for the short The Voorman Problem]. Morrissey gave a lot of interviews when The Smiths came out. He talked his life away then and the music also offers access points.”
Gill also met Billy Duffy, the guitarist for The Cult who he credited as being “the final piece in the jigsaw” in providing information for Gill and fellow screenwriter William Thacker. By the time Gill was in L.A. for the Oscars for The Voorman Problem, he had a draft in hand.
“We announced it and had written to Morrissey,” said Gill. “We tried to maintain a respectful level of awareness, [but] he was [not inclined] to get involved. He was likely confused as to why we wanted to do it. It’s very much a love story for me to tell about this guy growing up because it’s something I could relate to.”
By the end of 2014, HanWay Films boarded the project. Company execs introduced Gill to producer Orian Williams who also became involved. “It took about a year to get financing together,” said Gill. “It was a combination of private investment and the U.K. producers tax credit. I had already cast Jack Lowden as Morrissey. He understood what I was trying to do. I had a year to work with him. He was on this before being cast in Dunkirk.”
England Is Mine shot over five weeks in April and May, 2016 in Manchester, primarily in an old town hall, which served as primary set locations and storage space for equipment. The film closed the Edinburgh Film Festival at the beginning of July, selling out a 2,000 seat venue in the first two hours, according to Gill.
“Overall, it’s been warmly received especially from fans,” said Gill about the title’s theatrical run at home in the U.K. “I try to make films thinking of my audience first. Those who don’t understand it, don’t understand Morrissey. I said from day one I’m not making a film about The Smiths.”
Cleopatra Entertainment acquired England Is Mine in a pre-sale agreement which served as part of the project’s financing. The feature opens exclusively in New York today and will expand to other cities including Los Angeles September 1. Added Gill about Morrissey: “There’s more warmth for him in the U.S. The British can by cynical.”
Director-writer: Jung Byung-Gil
Cast: Kim Ok-Vin, Shin Ha-Kyun, Bang Sung-Jun, Kim Seo-Hyung
Distributor: Well Go USA
Well Go USA locked in Korean action-thriller The Villainess well before it was announced as a Cannes selection. The company had released director Jung Byung-Gil’s previous title, Confession of Murder.
The Villainess has, at its heart, revenge. Since she was a little girl, Sook-hee was brought up to become a deadly assassin. She gets a second chance in life when South Korea’s Intelligence Agency’s Chief Kwon recruits her to become a sleeper cell. Her new identity is Chae Yeon-soo, a 27 year-old, theater actress. With a promise of complete freedom after serving the country for 10 years, Sook-hee begins a new life. For someone who lived a life of a killer, living a normal life is no easy task. But when two men appear in her life suddenly, she uncovers secrets of her past.
“We do all kinds of films but I’d argue Well Go USA leads the pack when it comes to Asian action titles, and The Villainess is hands-down one of the most exciting, inventive action titles to come along in some time,” commented Well Go USA’s Dylan Marchetti. “At the end of the day, we want to work on the best releases, and August is a particularly busy month overseas. We’ve had complementary films that really have different audiences. We had a military action film, a 3-D romance, a heist thriller, a family-friendly fantasy film from China, and a critically acclaimed drama from South Korea.”
The Villainess opened the Fantasia Film Festival and closed the New York Asian Film Festival, two premiere events for Asian genre content. While Korean-American audiences are a core target, Well Go USA is also eyeing crossover.
“The film was released in Korea back in May and did well, but after we saw the response at Cannes, we decided to hold off and spend some more time and energy getting the word out,” noted Marchetti. “We’ve got a new trailer dropping later this week that highlights some of the amazing action scenes in the film, and we took the opportunity to bring over the director and do some press rounds with them. We’re also activating our fanbase of Asian action fans, many of whom have been sending us increasingly anxious emails wondering when this is going to be released.”
Well Go USA is starting slowly with The Villainess in order to build word-of-mouth, opening a single theater each in New York and L.A. The company will hold off adding markets until after Labor Day weekend with over 30 cities booked through September and October.
Added Marchetti: “L.A. isn’t generally a very large audience for these kinds of films, but it’s important for us to get the L.A. film community to see this in a theater. We think they’ll spread the word. I normally don’t tell people what to do, but if you’re a fan of action movies, you really owe it to yourself to take this ride big and loud in a theater.”
Directors: Valérie Müller, Angelin Preljocaj
Writers: Valérie Müller, Bastien Vivès
Cast: Anastasia Shevtsova, Jérémie Bélingard, Veronika Zhovnytska, Juliette Binoche, Aleksey Guskov
Oscilloscope caught French-Russian drama Polina at a market screening in Toronto, though the feature had recently premiered at the 2016 Venice Film Festival. The company considered it a ‘hidden gem’ since TIFF did not program it in the main section of the festival.
“Angelin Preljocaj, who co-directed the film with his wife, Valérie Müller, is one of the world’s most renowned choreographers,” explained Oscilloscope’s Andrew Carlin. “Anyone with even a passing interest in ballet or contemporary dance will want to seek this one out.”
The film centers on Polina, a promising classic dancer who was trained from an early age by rigorous perfectionist Professor Bojinski. She is just about to join the prestigious Bolchoi Ballet when she discovers contemporary dance. That throws everything into question on a profound level. Polina leaves it all behind and moves to France to work with famous choreographer Liria Elsaj. Despite her determination and hard work to the point of obsession, Polina just can’t seem to break through. So she moves to Anvers in search of work and a new life.
“There is traditionally a nice window of opportunity in August before the onslaught of awards hopefuls,” commented Carlin. “A lot of the Specialty titles released around the Labor Day period are — for lack of a better word — throwaways. We think Polina has a good chance to buck the trend and become a late summer sleeper.”
Oscilloscope is primarily targeting the traditional, older-skewing arthouse audiences as Polina heads to theaters this weekend. The company noted that the title was “incredibly well-received at the COL-COA festival in L.A. back in April. Oscilloscope has also worked with the professional dance community and national dance publications to spread the word.
Added Carlin: “We know [the arthouse] audience and believe they’re reachable through favorable reviews, word-of-mouth screenings and well-targeted social media advertising.”
Polina opens exclusively in New York today at Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika Film Center. Going into Labor Day weekend, the company will add the Nuart in L.A. before broadening out to the top 25 markets by mid-September.
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