With Awards Season tucked away, Specialty newcomers have a chance to breathe. Focus Features, which had two films in the Oscar running, is heading out with political thriller 7 Days in Entebbe starring Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl. The company is taking a page out of its playbook from the box office success of The Zookeeper’s Wife, released in a similar pattern last March. The Orchard is opening teen comedy Flower with Zoey Deutch with limited runs ahead of a wider roll out, using social media to engage potential young audiences. World War I British war drama Journey’s End heads to U.S. theaters in New York and L.A., with a marching band planned for its New York location. And Rainer Fassbinder fans will likely be out in droves in New York for the restored version of late German filmmaker’s Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day which Janus Films will show in three parts.
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7 Days in Entebbe
Director: José Padilha
Writer: Gregory Burke
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan, Nonso Anozie
Distributor: Focus Features
Focus Features is following a template from its 2017 release The Zookeeper’s Wife for its first post-Oscars roll-out, Participant Media and Working Title’s 7 Days in Entebbe. Zookeeper’s, which opened in over five hundred theaters in late March, also featured actor Daniel Brühl who stars in 7 Days, and went on to cume over $17.57M. Focus caught 7 Days in Entebbe at the end of last year.
The international thriller revolves around an Air France flight that is hijacked and flown to Uganda by German radicals in support of the Palestinian cause. An elite group of Israeli commandos, meanwhile, hatch a rescue plot. The resulting drama finds each character caught in the crossfire of geopolitical forces that still reverberates today.
“After the Oscars, there’s a period of time when there’s a ‘hangover,’” said Focus Features president of Distribution Lisa Bunnell. “March is a great time to have an upscale, intelligent art film. We did this last year with Zookeeper’s. This is a movie inspired by actual events, and is an intelligent, adult [offering] by a director who knows how to do a thrilling political drama. It’s a good release [to lure] a diverse audience.”
Focus Features is tapping an “upscale, sophisticated audience” for 7 Days in Entebbe, which will actually go a bit wider in its opening weekend than The Zookeeper’s Wife. The company is advertising heavily on news networks and dramas. They also played the trailer before their Oscar heavyweights Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread. “It was a good time to get eyeballs on it during the Oscar period,” added Bunnell.
Focus Features will open 7 Days in Entebbe in about 800 theaters this weekend, with an emphasis on art house and upscale locations. The company will then gauge potential expansion in the coming weeks.
Director-writer: Max Winkler
Writers: Alex McAulay, Matt Spicer, Max Winkler
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, Tim Heidecker, Joey Morgan, Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshet
Distributor: The Orchard
Distributor The Orchard picked up feature comedy Flower by Max Winkler out of last year’s Tribeca Film Festival where it debuted. The company was drawn to the story in part because it came from a Black List script, and due to its lead Zoey Deutch.
“We felt it was a unique voice,” said The Orchard’s Paul Davidson. “Though it’s now a year later and the world is a different place, the themes of female empowerment and young people making their way in the world is very timely.”
Flower revolves around rebellious, quick-witted Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch), a 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) and mom’s new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. When Bob’s mentally unbalanced son Luke (Joey Morgan) arrives from rehab to live with the family, Erica finds her domestic and personal life overwhelmed. With Luke and her sidekicks Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet) in tow, Erica acts out by exposing a dark secret of high-school teacher Will (Adam Scott), with perilous results; their teenage kicks become a catalyst for growing up in unexpected and unpredictable ways.
The Orchard is targeting a primarily female demo under late 30s, though the distributor said that they discovered through research that males are also attracted to the feature because of Zoey Deutch and its dark humor.
“We’ve been running a robust social media campaign and are not doing much traditional newspaper or radio,” explained Davidson. “The audience for this are all on social media. We’ve created swag that we’re giving away to people who engage with the movie through social media outlets. We’re also doing college screenings, such as at USC and NYU as well as doing national press with cast on morning and late night talk shows in addition to live Twitter conversations.”
The Orchard is opening Flower at the Arclight and Landmark in Los Angeles as well as the Regal Union Square in New York. Deutch and Winkler will take part in select Q&As. Davidson said that the title will be in the top 30 DMAs in its second weekend and will reach up to 300 runs the following week.
Director: Saul Dibb
Writers: Simon Read (screenplay), R.C. Sherriff (play)
Cast: Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Paul Bettany, Toby Jones, Tom Sturridge, Stephen Graham
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Good Deed Entertainment VP of Acquisitions and Distribution Kristin Harris covered the P&I screening of British war drama, Journey’s End at last year’s Toronto Film Festival where it premiered. Though the genre wasn’t a typical sell for the exec, she nevertheless found it appealing.
“It’s elegant, sophisticated and critically acclaimed,” said Harris. “War dramas are not usually my forte, but I kept an open mind and really connected with the characters. It’s also not a typical war film. It deals with the psychology of war. If Dunkirk is ‘macro,’ then Journey’s End is ‘micro.’ It deals with how war effects you.”
Journey’s End is set in March, 1918. C-company arrives to take its turn in the front-line trenches of northern France, led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope. With a German offensive imminently approaching, the officers and their cook use food and the memories of their lives before the war to distract themselves, while Stanhope soaks his fear in whisky, unable to deal with the dread of the inevitable. Young officer Raleigh arrives fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting — not least because he is to serve under Stanhope, his former school house monitor and the object of his sister’s affections. Each man is trapped, the days ticking by, the tension rising and the attack drawing ever closer.
“The target audience is an older, male demo, but we’re finding it surprising that women are really reacting positively to the film once they see it,” said Harris. “I think it’s because [the film] digs into [the characters’] psychology and sees their vulnerabilities. It’s not just a shoot ‘em up war movie. I think there’s an urgent, timely sensibility to the film and even though it’s a century old, it feels very current relative to topics like PTSD.”
The feature’s producers told Good Deed that the film does have its female following, so the company is messaging to females as well. They are also of course tapping people connected with the service. “While we’re definitely leaning on audiences that are military and familiar with the play [by R.C. Sherriff that it’s based on], we’re touching on the female demo more than we would have done,” noted Harris. “We’re also working with various societies commemorating [the 100th anniversary] of World War I like the World War I Centennial Commission, who have been incredibly supportive of the Journey’s End release. They’re working with us on grassroots marketing.”
For its debut, the company has organized a marching band which will go from a nearby WWI memorial to the Landmark 57 West in New York. Along with that theater, Journey’s End will play at the Landmark in Los Angeles. The feature will expand to additional locations in New York and L.A. in week two, followed by a national expansion set for later March.
Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day
Director-writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cast: Gottfried John, Hanna Schygulla, Luise Ullrich, Werner Fink
Distributor: Janus Films
Fans of late German-born filmmaker Rainer Fassbinder will have the chance to see a series he worked on that has rarely been shown since its original broadcast in five episodes between 1973 and 1973. The restored version of Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day, will be screened in three parts beginning this weekend in New York. The new version had its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival last year. Janus Films has released a number of restored Fassbinder titles stateside.
Commissioned to make a working-class family drama, up-and-coming director Rainer Werner Fassbinder took the assignment and ran, upending expectations by depicting social realities in West Germany from a critical—yet far from cynical—perspective. Over the course of several hours, the sprawling story tracks the everyday triumphs and travails of the young toolmaker Jochen (Gottfried John) and many of the people populating his world, including the woman he loves (Hanna Schygulla), his eccentric nuclear family, and his fellow workers, with whom he bands together to improve conditions on the factory floor.
“This particular film is one of those Fassbinder ‘holy grails,’” explained Peter Becker, president, Criterion Collection. “The Fassbinder Foundation has put a ton of work into getting Fassbinder’s prodigious body of work restored. We were excited when it surfaced last year in Berlin. There was no question [we’d do this], following on Berlin Alexanderplatz [and others].”
Becker noted that Fassbinder fans are “very tapped in” when it comes to roll-outs of restored releases of the filmmaker’s work, so word-of-mouth is a key driver. Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day will be shown in three parts starting Friday at Film Forum in New York.
“We have a great track record with [multi-part] releases like these,” said Becker. “We [recently] had Fanny & Alexander shown as three admissions, yet shows were sold out. There’s something really great about these immersive, cinematic experiences. There are stories that go outside the boundaries of a typical feature film and Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day is a really great example.” Audiences will have the choice of watching the three parts back to back, or returning to the theater [at a later time].”
Becker said that review are also key in getting word out, touting The New York Times’ praise of the series. “It’s a great film for this moment,” said Becker. “It’s optimistic and empowering at the same time. It’s about ordinary people taking command of their destiny.”
Following its exclusive bow at Film Forum, the title will head to locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and other major markets in the coming weeks.
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