Vortex — which opened this weekend to a full house at NYC’s IFC Center — has an unusual star, Dario Argento. Here’s how the film’s helmer Gaspar Noe convinced the iconic Italian horror movie director into his first lead acting role.
“There were three reasons” he said yes, Noe told Deadline. “The first one, he said, because you are my friend and I like your movies.” [Noe has known Argento for 30 years and is friendly with his daughter, Asia Argento.] “The second and the third, because I told him that I would not given him any lines to learn. That he could improvise his dialogue. He could invent his character all by himself. I said, ‘I’ll just handle the camera and the editing. So you’ll direct your part, and I’ll direct my part.’” In fact, the screenplay he showed Argento was only ten pages long.
Vortex follows an elderly couple in crisis. Argento plays an author and movie critic with a heart condition; his wife, played by the well-known French actress Francoise Lebrun, is a retired psychiatrist descending into dementia, a condition Noe’s mother suffered towards the end of her life. Vortex is a departure for the Paris-based Argentine Noe, known for edgy shockers (Irreversible, Enter The Void, Climax. “This is a realistic movie,” he said. “There is a real sweetness to it.”
Argento has 14 on-screen credits over a 50-year filmmaking career but mostly work that either went uncredited, was a voice-over in one of his own films, or a small cameo. Vortex, which debuted in Cannes and NYFF, is his first full on-screen debut. The Suspiria director was surprised “when I told him it was about an old couple,” Noe said, “he thought it would be a horror film.”
“He is so charismatic. I was sure that he would be good, but I wasn’t sure that he would accept.”
Utopia grossed $17,057. IFC’s top performer. Ironically, the crowd was young. Noe’s films skew young. So typically does distributor Utopia (Shiva Baby, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, The Scary of Sixty-First) and they filled six sold-out shows with director Q&As. Vortex moves into major markets next weekend on at least 50 screens including Regal, AMC, Landmark and other arthouse.
Other specialty openings this weekend:
IFC Midnight’s Hatching, the Finnish-language debut feature from Hanna Bergholm, grossed $140,000 on 186 screens (exclusively theatrical through May 17) opening weekend for a per theater average of $753. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival Midnight section favorite had strong reviews and is 91% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fiddler’s Journey To The Big Screen, from Zeitgeist Films in Association with Kino Lorber, is looking at projected weekend grosses of $6,318 on one screen. It’s Fri-Sat cume was $5,318.
Hello Bookstore from Greenwich Entertainment grossed $6,000 on one screen, NYC’s Film Forum. Film is the story of a beloved small-town bookstore and its charismatic proprietor struggling to survive the pandemic. The film expands to LA May 13 Exclusive to theatrical for 60 days.
Firebird from Roadside Attractions grossed $55,310 on 90 screens for an estimated per screen average of $615.
The Duke from Sony Pictures Classics grossed $122,607 on 57 screens in week 2 (from 4 last week), for a per screen average of $2,151 and a cume of $162,181. The pic opened last weekend into a deal with the Angelika Film Center that offered patrons a buy-one-get-one-free ticket for a week. Laemmle Theatres took up the so-called Bring a Friend Back To The Movies initiative this week at the Pasadena Playhouse 7 and Encino Town Center 5, and May 6 at the Claremont, Monica Film Center and Newhall. SPC said the idea is to help nudge elusive older audiences back to theaters ahead of a, hopefully, definitive lift anticipated by Downtown Abbey: A New Era later in May.
Also, with rising attention on Indian film since RRR, Comscore offered a weekend roundup:
Prime Media’s Acharya in 396 locations had a weekend debut of $1.412M for a strong PTA of $3,567.
Yash Raj Films opened Runway 34 to $330k in 350 locations for a PTA of $943.
Hamsini opened Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal in 184 locations to $270k debut for a PTA of $1,467.
Viva Entertainment opened Heropanti 2 in 280 locations to $115k.
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