Behind hooligan make-up, Robert Pattinson plays a New York low-life in the Safdie Brothers’ latest film Good Time, which A24 is opening this weekend. Pattinson received rave reviews for his turn in the Cannes competition title, which also stars Oscar-nominees Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi. The film along with Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions’ The Only Living Boy in New York starring Callum Turner, Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan and Cynthia Nixon headline a busy weekend of late summer Specialty releases.
IFC Films is opening The Trip to Spain, which is the third installment in a Specialty franchise that saw success in previous stints in Italy and northern England. Sundance doc Whose Streets? from Magnolia Pictures also joins the weekend lineup. The film is timed to the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. And Distrib Film is opening French/Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse’s After Love, which had a solid box office release at home.
Also in limited release this weekend are two from Well Go USA including Korean drama A Taxi Driver as well as Chinese fantasy-romance Once Upon a Time. The closing night film of Fantasia Film Festival, A Taxi Driver, which opened to high numbers at home last weekend, will bow stateside in 40 theaters. Once Upon a Time will launch in 51 domestic locations. The first week of engagements will be exclusively in 3D. The film opened last weekend in China, where it’s grossed $80M in seven days.
Other films opening in limited release include Freestyle Releasing’s Bedeviled, Neon’s Ingrid Goes West, Strand’s The Nile Hilton Incident and The Veil from Vertical Entertainment.
Directors: Joshua Safdie, Ben Safdie
Writers: Ronald Bronstein, Joshua Safdie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress
New York filmmakers Joshua and Ben Safdie return to the gritty streets of the city they call home for their fifth feature, Good Time. This time, however, they are including established talent in the form of Robert Pattinson and Oscar-nominees Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi. Pattinson became aware of the Safdies’ work after seeing a promotional still from their 2014 feature Heaven Knows What. He reached out to the filmmakers while they were at SXSW showing the film saying that he wanted to work on their next project.
The crime-thriller, which premiered in competition at Cannes in May, opens with a botched bank robbery by two brothers. After his younger sibling (Ben Safdie) is caught and sent to jail, Constantine Nikas (Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the city’s underworld in an increasingly desperate and dangerous attempt to get his brother out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Constantine finds himself on a mad descent into violence and mayhem as he races against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing their lives hang in the balance.
“When we got Rob’s email that said, ‘let’s do something together,’ there was no project,” explained Josh Safdie during a post-screening conversation of Good Time at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “[On the news] at the time, these two guys had just broken out of prison in upstate New York. We watched as people were rooting for these two people. Out of a conversation about that, we all agreed we wanted to make a movie that was dangerous — and was ‘pulp.’”
There was some consideration about Pattinson being a part of their long-time thriller Uncut Gems, which begins production in 2018, but he didn’t fit into that movie’s particular environment. So the brothers developed a new story with the Twilight actor in mind, co-written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein.
Ben Safdie had developed a mentally challenged character for a project that never took off, but he reintroduced it for the younger brother character, Nick.
He then began an email relationship with Pattinson who was working on The Lost City of Z. The two would write each other as Nick and Constantine to develop their brotherly rapport. Explained Safdie: “Rob would email me his ‘letters’ from ‘jail’ and I’d respond as ‘Nick’ and then Josh and Ronnie would see these emails. That’s when he had the experience of talking to Nick and I’d have the experience of responding.”
Ahead of filming, Pattinson said he would try out his make-up and overall look as Constantine — or Connie as he is called in the film — and would walk the streets of upper Manhattan near Josh Safdie’s apartment. He said that an underworld of people would approach him because he looked like “a crackhead,” as he described it, adding about filming Good Time: “The locations gave a lot to play off. My understanding of New York is different. I wouldn’t think of it as a New York movie. It feels sci-fi. Right from the beginning when you’re playing a character that’s on the fringe — and not just a film version of fringe, but actually fringe — it feels like you’re an alien.”
Good Time shot in Queens in early 2016. Deadline reported last October A24 picked up the feature in “a seven-figure minimum guarantee commitment” debuting in Cannes in May. Good Time will initially roll out in four New York and Los Angeles theaters Friday. The feature will move into top markets the following week ahead of a nationwide expansion set for August 25.
The Only Living Boy in New York
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Allan Loeb
Cast: Callum Turner, Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Tate Donovan, Kiersey Clemons
Distributor: Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions
Amazon Studios produced Marc Webb’s The Only Living Boy in New York, tapping its frequent distribution collaborator, Roadside Attractions, for its release back in March. Roadside’s previous releases with Amazon include Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, which grossed $14M and of course Manchester By the Sea, which picked up two Oscars and grossed $47.5M in the domestic box office.
In The Only Living Boy in New York, Callum Turner plays Thomas, a recent college graduate with a young girlfriend (Kersey Clemons). He gets in way over his head when he begins an affair with an alluring woman (Kate Beckinsale) who also happens to be his father’s mistress. Jeff Bridges, meanwhile, is an eccentric author who lives in the same building as Thomas and becomes his adviser as he tries to navigate the upheaval.
“We liked the idea of a summer release [for this film],” said Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen. “It’s glossy, fun, upbeat and plays well in summer when people are tired of the superhero movies. It also has a fantastic cast.”
Cohen said they are targeting an “upscale, cross-over audience, 25-plus with an emphasis on big cities.” Before Webb helmed the 2012 and 2014 Amazing Spider-Man installments, he showed his box office chops in the romantic-drama (500) Days of Summer with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Fox Searchlight opened the title in 2009. The Sundance debut cumed over $32.39M in the domestic box office.
“I think this is more commercial than just strict art house,” added Cohen about The Only Living Boy in New York. “We’re always looking to shake it up with which theaters to play and where… Everyone is looking with a skeptical eye. You want to create a release strategy based on the movie as opposed to fitting the movie into a [standardized] release strategy.”
The Only Living Boy in New York will open in 50 theaters Friday, adding more in its second weekend. It will be in between three and four hundred locations by the third week.
The Trip to Spain
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rebecca Johnson, Claire Keelan
Distributor: IFC Films
After their journeys in 2011 and 2014, Brit duo Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take a sojourn to Spain, with the third installment of the “Trip” series. The Trip to Spain, directed by Michael Winterbottom, continues a Specialty franchise that has seen success on both sides of the Atlantic.
In The Trip to Spain, Coogan and Brydon are on an “Uproarious tour of Spain’s finest restaurants and most breathtaking settings.” The pair sample the country’s top gastronomic offerings in between rounds of their off-the-cuff banter. Over plates of pintxos and paella, they exchange barbs and their patented celebrity impressions as well as more serious reflections on what it means to settle into middle age.
“I think it’s good timing. The Trip to Italy and The Trip (in northern England) were summer releases as well,” said Arianna Bocco, IFC Films’ EVP of Acquisitions and Productions. “We’ve been successful with both. I think it transports you to a different place. It’s fun. You’re with these guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. The audience has been loyal to this franchise, and that’s been true around the world.”
IFC Films released The Trip in June, 2011 eventually grossing $2.03M domestically. The company opened The Trip to Italy in the states mid-August in 2014, taking in $2.88M. The big screen versions followed a series, which also starred Coogan and Brydon, following the same concept. The two earlier big screen releases launched day and date on cable VOD in the U.S. as will The Trip to Spain this weekend.
“At this point, we know [Coogan and Brydon] very well in these roles,” said Bocco. “We continue the journey with them and people keep coming back. The Tribeca Film Festival [premiere] was insane. These guys have morphed into many incarnations in their lives, but this one has them addressing their age. It’s a different angle from the two, but it’s appealing to an audience that’s again with them.”
IFC Films is utilizing more social media in spreading the word about The Trip to Spain vs. its two earlier installments. The previous releases have created a core audience of Anglophile as well as “hip” audiences, according to the distributor, skewing a bit more male and youngish to middle-age.
The Trip to Spain will open at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center in New York as well as the Landmark in Los Angeles this weekend. It will have an “aggressive” platform roll-out from there.
Directors: Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis
Subjects: Brittany Ferrell, Tef Poe, Kayla Reed, Tory Russell, Alexis Templeton, David Whitt
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Magnolia caught documentary Whose Streets? at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The documentary is an “unflinching” look at the Ferguson uprising. After unarmed teen Michael Brown is killed by police and left dead in the streets for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, MO. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest the community’s latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the National Guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.
“We made a lot of strong connections in the activist community through our work on [Oscar-nominated doc] I Am Not Your Negro, and felt that we could utilize that momentum to broaden the visibility of this film,” commented Magnolia Pictures’ Matt Cowal. “August 9 is the third anniversary of Michael Brown’s murder, so it felt appropriate to make this film available while the tragic events from 2014 are on people’s minds.”
Magnolia has been working with community organizers and activist groups all over the country, inviting members of the organizations to speak after screenings of Whose Streets? Magnolia expects people who are passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement to be a core audience for the title as it heads out this weekend along with discerning fans of documentary who should also be drawn to the feature beyond its socio-political framework.
“It’s an immersive and artfully made documentary in the tradition of Frederick Wiseman that will appeal to any lover of docs,” noted Cowal. “The film tells the story that the news media failed to about what happened in Ferguson, from the perspective of the activists on the ground and the people that live there.”
Whose Streets? opens theatrically in New York, L.A. St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco Friday. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis will take part in Q&As in New York and St. Louis over the weekend. The title will addd 10 major markets on August 18 and will be nationwide August 25.
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Cédric Kahn
Distributor: Distrib Films
Distrib Films released French/Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse’s Our Children, so the company had his follow-up After Love on its list of titles to view at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film opens stateside a year after its French theatrical bow where it grossed a little over €1M at the box office, according to Distrib Films.
After Love centers on Boris and Marie, a couple who have decided to separate after 15 years together. They have two girls that they adore, but tensions rise as cash-strapped Boris continues to live in the family home. Neither of the two is willing to compromise, making their apartment a war zone.
“This film is at the same time very French and totally singular in its style of filmmaking and how the story unfolds,” said François Scippa-Kohn, president of Distrib Films U.S. “It is an elegant French family-drama [that is] a typical Parisian story. Our audience is [typically the same] – older, educated newspaper readers.”
Distrib Films picked this weekend for its release based on the availability of The Quad theater in New York City, which the company said is “highly competitive.” The company added, however, that it has “been releasing French films in August” in recent years with positive results. “Doing an early August release gives us time to [nurture] challenging French movies and to tailor our marketing [as we add cities].”
Distrib Films is targeting its messaging on targeted digital ads as well as a newspaper presence. Added Scippa-Kohn: “There is a Bergman-like intensity in this movie notably in the way the story is staged and in the performances. [Theatrical bookers] have been quite moved by the film. They also know that Bérénice Bejo will draw an audience.”
Distrib Films opened After Love on Wednesday, August 9 at The Quad in New York. The title will bow in San Francisco on Friday before heading to the Laemmle Royal August 25 in Los Angeles September 1.