Questlove’s Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) will tease the specialty box office this weekend with the brilliantly reviewed Sundance Grand Jury and Audience award-winner in special engagements in two theaters to tee up a wide release on some 600 screens, and Hulu, July 2.
The film from Searchlight Pictures about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which features never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and others, will strike a chord at the El Capitan Theater in LA and the Magic Johnson AMC Harlem.
Footage from the festival in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) held the same year as Woodstock was stored in a basement and all but forgotten for 50 years before today and this film, which was directed by musician Ahmir Khalib Thompson, known as Questlove, drummer of hip-hop band The Roots for over three decades.
It’s the first official project from Disney’s new Onyx Collective led by Freeform President Tara Duncan. Unveiled last month, the group is developing a curated slate of content by creators of color and underrepresented voices.
The doc is produced by Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein.
“This is more than a film. It’s really a piece of history, and a vivid historical account that makes for a wonderful experience on screen,” said Frank Rodriguez, SVP General Sales Manager, Searchlight Pictures. “The footage is pristine. It’s gorgeous. And that was not the era of high def. It looks great and sounds even better. That’s what got everybody so excited when we saw it at Sundance, and here is this film 52 years later correcting the historical record.”
“We’re optimistic” about its prospects, he said. Summer of Soul is one-of-a-kind.”
See trailer here:
Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics’ I Carry You With Me gets a platform release in NY/LA this weekend on four screens then will be rolling out through July. It’s a decades-spanning romance beginning in Mexico between an aspiring chef (Armando Espitia) and a teacher (Christian Vázquez). Their lives are upended as societal pressure propels them to embark on a treacherous journey to NYC with dreams, hopes, and memories in tow. A Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Festival and New York Film Festival selection, it’s directed by Heidi Ewing, written by Ewing and Alan Page Arriaga and produced by Mynette Louie, Ewing, Gabriela Maire and Edher Campos.
Skipping a beat, A24 is releasing Zola in theaters on Wednesday, June 30. Directed by Janicza Bravo and written by Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, film is based on Tweets by A’Ziah-Monae “Zola” King and the article by David Kushner, “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted”.
Zola (Taylour Paige), a Detroit waitress, strikes up a new friendship with a customer, Stefani (Riley Keough), who seduces her into joining a weekend of dancing and partying in Florida. What at first seems like a glamorous trip rapidly transforms into a 48-hour journey involving a nameless pimp, an idiot boyfriend, some Tampa gangsters and other unexpected adventures in this wild, see-it-to-believe-it tale.
Producers are Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Gia Walsh, Kara Baker, Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, Dave Franco. With Paige, Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari’el Stachel and Colman Domingo.
Fresh off the just-wrapped Tribeca fest, IFC Films’ horror-comedy Werewolves Within opens in 270 theaters. After a proposed pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield and a snowstorm traps its wacky residents together inside the local inn, newly arrived forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) must try to keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community.
Based on the Ubisoft game, it’s directed by Josh Ruben and written by Mishna Wolff. Cast includes Richardson, Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtain, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillén, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins and Glenn Fleshler.
We’ve also got artists and mobsters.
Greenwich Entertainment presents Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide, a portrait of the artist co-directed by his daughter Malia Scharf and Max Basch. Featuring interviews and rare archival footage of Scharf with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s. He live through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms.
In Lansky, from Vertical Entertainment, David Stone (Sam Worthington), a renowned but down-on-his-luck write receives a surprise call from Meyer Lansky (Harvey Keitel), the aging Jewish Godfather of organized crime. The retired gangster spins a dizzying tale, revealing the untold truth about his life as the notorious boss Authorities have been trying to capture him and locate his alleged fortune but he’s one step ahead.
For some scares, there’s Swedish horror film The Evil Next Door from Magnet Releasing. A new stepmom moves into a duplex with her partner, Fredrik, and his son, Lucas. The new home feels like the right place to start becoming a family. But when Fredrik leaves for work, strange things are heard from the other, uninhabited side. Also, who is Lucas’ new friend?
Worth noting, Queen Bees from Gravitas Ventures, with Ellen Burstyn, Jane Curtin, i Loretta Devine and Ann-Margret, passed the $1 million mark earlier this week and continues to play well with its key senior demo even as it scales back to 355 theaters this weekend from 500.
One indie distributor pointed out that screens in multiplexes that may or may not host specialty fare are in any case limited this weekend as exhibitors prepare to blast out F9, the biggest release in the last year and a half.
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