Filmmaker Autumn de Wilde is serving up a fresh new take on the Jane Austen novel with the film Emma., which opens in theaters this weekend. Complete with a stylized punctuated period in the title, the new version is a Focus Features co-production with Working Title and Blueprint Productions and joins the ranks of other Hollywood iterations of the classic story. This includes the 1996 iteration starring Gwyneth Paltrow, a modern Indian version titled Aisha in 2010 and, of course, Amy Heckerling’s way existential adaptation Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone. There were also countless TV versions including the 1996 ITV film, starring Kate Beckinsale in the titular role as well as the 2009 four-part BBC miniseries starring Romola Garai. That being said, it seems like the world can’t get enough of this Austen’s comedy of “love and all its surprises”, but based on the trailer alone, de Wilde’s cracks open a visionary pastel-hued cheekiness to the beloved story.
Donning the bonnet and high-waisted period costuming of the title role this time around is Anya Taylor-Joy — and it could very well be a breakout role for The Witch actress. She stars alongside a stellar ensemble cast that includes Bill Nighy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Tanya Reynolds and Connor Swindells.
This marks the feature film adapted by screenwriter Eleanor Catton is the feature debut for de Wilde, who is best known for her photography and music video directing. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of Emma., it focuses on Emma Woodhouse who is described in the logline as “a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town”. In this new satirical take, we see her navigate growing pains, issues of social class and romantic missteps. Austen pretty much wrote a romantic comedy before it was even a thing.
Focus Features feels like a good home for Emma. as it released Downton Abbey last year. It may not fall in the same period as Emma., but it could very well share some of the same audience. They are also both part of pre-existing IP that has loyal fanbases. The distributor made major coin with Downton Abbey as it debuted domestically to over $31 million and went on to gross a total of $208 million in 2019. Meanwhile, Douglas McGrath’s version starring Paltrow grossed over $22 million domestically and Clueless became an iconic piece of pop culture cinema, earning over $56 million in its run. All of these numbers could be a good forecast for Emma.
Emma. is set to open this weekend in New York at the Angelika, Lincoln Square, and Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles at the Arclight Hollywood and Landmark.
Watch the trailer below.
Amazon Studios is set to release Seberg this weekend after it had its qualifying run last year. Directed by Benedict Andrews, the thriller starring Kristen Stewart is inspired by the real-life events surrounding the titular French New Wave darling Jean Seberg.
In the late 1960s, Seberg was targeted by Hoover’s illegal FBI surveillance program COINTELPRO. Because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), she was also a target of the FBI’s attempts to disrupt, discredit and expose the Black Power movement. Seberg died at the age of 40 in what was deemed a probable suicide.
The film made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and went on to do the festival circuit which included stops at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival. Seberg is the latest in Amazon Studios theatrical slate, which has seen a bumpy road, box office wise. Amazon made an array of acquisitions at Sundance in 2019 including Late Night for $13 million and Brittany Runs a Marathon for $14 million. However, the two films underperformed at the box office earning over $15 million and $7 million respectively.
They also acquired Honey Boy for $5 million which went on to earn over $3 million domestic. They also shelled out $14 million for The Report, which had a truncated theatrical debut. In addition, they acquired One Child Nation, which grossed an estimated $270,000 at the box office. Most recently, their Oscar-nominated film Les Miserables earned over $320,000 at the domestic box office. It will be interesting to see how Seberg fits into their box office journey. Despite box office performance, all of their titles tend to perform very well on Amazon’s streaming platform.
Written by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, Seberg also stars Jack O’Connell, Margaret Qualley, Zazie Beetz and Vince Vaughn. Producers are Fred Berger and Brian Kavanaugh Jones of Automatik, Marina Acton, Alan Ritchson, Kate Garwood, Stephen Hopkins and Brad Pilz.
Seberg is set to open today in New York at the Angelika and in Los Angeles at the Arclight Hollywood and the Landmark. Amazon will expand on February 28. Watch the trailer below.
Also opening this weekend is Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s Young Ahmed (Le Jeune Ahmed), which centers on a Belgian-Arab Muslim teenager named Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) who lives in a small town with a secular single mother and siblings. He has frighteningly become radicalized through the influence of a magnetic, local extremist imam and becomes fixated with killing his female teacher in the name of his religious convictions.
The Kino Lorber film earned the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival —and the Dardenne brothers are no strangers to getting accolades at the prestigious film fest. Their film Rosetta won the Palme d’Or in 1999 and L’Enfant (The Child) nabbed it in 2005. To add to their Cannes accolades, Olivier Gourmet won Best Actor for their film Le Fils (The Son) in 2002.
The film also stars Olivier Bonnaud, Myriem Akheddiou, Victoria Bluck, Claire Bodson and Othmane Moumen. The film opens at the Quad in New York starting today.
Magnolia Pictures is set to debut Daniel Roher’s docu Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. Based mostly on Robbie Robertson’s 2017 memoir Testimony, the pic is being billed as a part-confessional, cautionary, and sometimes humorous tale of the lead singer’s young life and the evolution of the band. It featured rare archival footage and interviews with friends and collaborators including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, David Geffen and Ronnie Hawkins.
The film opened the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and has a solid roster of executive producers behind it including Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
The docu is set to play this weekend at the Arclight Hollywood and Landmark in Los Angeles with Q&As with Robertson. It will also play in New York at the IFC Center and Landmark 57 West. Magnolia will expand the pic to 50 more markets next week.
For all you feline lovers out there, Oscilloscope Laboratories will present its annual CatVideoFest, which will hit about 35 screens this weekend. The fest is very targeted to a specific audience and is very on-brand for the distributor, which is known for releasing alternative content.
CatVideoFest is a compilation reel of the latest and best cat videos culled from a variety of submissions including animation, music videos and internet vids — and they all feature felines. The fest raises money for cats in need through partnerships with local cat charities, animal welfare organizations, and shelters to best serve cats in the area.
It may sound strange, but the cat fest isn’t nothing to laugh at. In 2019, it grossed over $500K domestic. O-scope looks to gross over $100K this weekend on limited screenings. They are already reporting sell-outs in Boston (The Coolidge), Brooklyn (Nitehawk and Alamo Drafthouse), San Francisco (The Roxie), Seattle (SIFF), Austin (Violet Crown), Santa Fe (Violet Crown) and Milwaukee (The Oriental). The Detroit Cinema Theater has also reported they have sold over 2,600 tickets and on their way to beat last year’s $34,000 gross. It looks like cat lovers want to get their paws on these tickets.
Other noteworthy limited debuts this weekend include the Bailey Kobe-directed female-centered mixed martial arts drama Rag Doll; the Barnabás Tóth-directed Those Who Remained based on the novel by Zsuzsa F. Várkonyi; Faleena Hopkins’s ghostly love story Just One More Kiss; and Sam de Jong’s drama Goldie which stars Slick Woods as an aspiring dancer looking to fight against the odds of an oppressive system.
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