Neon said Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria starring Tilda Swinton will begin its tour of U.S. cinemas starting April 1. The distributor announced last year that the film — which opened in late Dec. for a one-week Oscar qualifying engagement at NYC’s IFC Center — planned to pursue an unusual release strategy it calls a “cinemas only…forever” tour.
Memoria will return to the IFC Center on April 1 with Los Angeles’ Nuart Theater following on April 8. It’s booked over 100 special engagements across multiple cities each week at arthouse cinemas. pop-up drive-ins, museums, art galleries, university screenings and outdoor events. It lists dates through October.
The initial IFC run grossed $57k for the week.
The film premiered at Cannes last year, winning the Jury Prize. It was Colombia’s submission for Best International Feature Oscar.
Neon CEO Tom Quinn said the idea “to truly pay homage to this existential gem was to build a sort of traveling mecca of cinema that has the capacity to stop us in our tracks.”
“For Memoria, cinema experience is crucial or maybe the only way. Let’s embrace the darkness and dream, one at a time,” said Weerasethakul.
Swinton. an outspoken advocate for the theatrical experience, called Memoria “the perfect film for this moment…Big cinema or bust.” She plays Jessica, a woman who travels from Scotland to visit her sister in Bogotá, where she’s startled by a loud bang at daybreak and is unable to sleep. It is Palme d’Or winner Weerasethakul’s ninth feature and his first shoot outside his native Thailand.
PREVIOUSLY: Memoria took in $6,797 on one screen Sunday, the first day of the first week exclusive engagement for the Neon film starring Tilda Swinton. It will play the IFC Center in New York City through Saturday, January 1.
That’s the start of a cross-country tour in an unusual release strategy the distributor and the film’s director Apichatpong Weerasethakul announced in October for the Cannes Jury Prize winner and New York Film Festival selection. It is also the Colombian entry for the International Feature Film Oscar.
Swinton plays Jessica, a woman who travels from Scotland to Bogotá to visit her sister. There, she’s startled by a loud bang at daybreak and is unable to sleep. It is Palme d’Or winner Weerasethakul’s ninth feature and his first shoot outside his native Thailand.
Neon is following the unusual approach of moving the film “from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.” And it will only be available in cinemas, with no home video, on-demand, or streaming release. “The only means of experiencing Memoria will be in theaters… forever,” Neon tweeted when it made the announcement.
The move, with the full support and encouragement of the film’s director and star, is meant as a paean to the uniqueness of the theatrical experience, which is challenged for independent and arthouse films right now and has distributors experimenting with various release models. The move also generated some controversy on social media with cries of elitism.
Neon says that following the one-week residency at IFC, all other markets will be in 2022, though it is not yet making the specifics public.
Memoria is inspired by Weerasethakul’s own memories. As Jessica seeks to unravel the mystery of the sound, she befriends Agnes (Jeanne Balibar), an archaeologist studying human remains in a tunnel under construction, and a fish scaler, Hernan (Elkin Diaz).
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