The Oscars in Hollywood didn’t impact the turnout at the surprise SXSW screening of Robert Rodriguez’s noir title Hypnotic at the Paramount Theatre. The festival boldly booked the movie against the Oscarcast, but Rodriguez fans still lined, some not getting in.
Much to Rodriguez’s relief, the $70 million Ben Affleck movie shot here in Austin, TX — which was delayed by Covid, shut down three times, slapped with an insurance lawsuit and saw its U.S. distributor Solstice Studios implode — received a generous applause at the jam-packed Austin theatre. The film has put off some of its foreign buyers in regards to quality, and if there was a safe place to premiere the movie ever, it was here where Rodriguez is revered. The surprise screening came a little more than 30 years after Rodriguez’s El Mariachi debuted. The filmmaker even got an anniversary El Mariachi cake on stage.
In its first collision with Oscar night, SXSW largely counterprogrammed the big ABC event, read after Friday night’s mega opening-night title, Paramount/eOne’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the next big studio title is Monday night’s Lionsgate release John Wick: Chapter 4, followed by Warner Bros’ Evil Dead Rise and Lionsgate’s Joyride later this week.
In Hypnotic, Oscar winner Affleck plays a detective investigating a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program. Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman reported that Ketchup Entertainment has U.S. rights and is planning a summer theatrical release in 2,000 theaters.
Rodriguez spent an hour taking fan questions and brought props from his movies including a baby Danny Trejo prop from Machete.
Asked about stylistic inspirations, Rodriguez said that he and his DP Pablo Berron spoke about Michael Mann’s Heat, particularly its use of widescreen.
“I don’t usually shoot widescreen,” exclaimed Rodriguez, who sought to distinguish dream- and real-world sequences in the respective use of wide and spherical lens.
The filmmaker also spoke about how while he’s editing films, he’ll keep another title on in the background as inspiration, i.e., when he was cutting Spy Kids 2, he had Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo on in the background.
Hitchcock was also a big inspiration here for Rodriguez with Hypnotic who adored the filmmaker’s panache for one-word titles. Rodriguez explained that great ideas, and titles in this case, come from asking yourself the right questions.
Looking for a one word title, “Hypnotic popped in my head. I said ‘Wow, Hypnotic, but what does it mean?”
“Then I thought, ‘Oh, it’s a guy who can’t be caught.’ You go to catch this guy and he’s the most uncatchable villain because you think you’ve arrested him, then your own cops are raging guns, then they shoot each other. And that’s the opening,” explained Rodriguez.
Ketchup Entertainment CEO Gareth West was involved in setting up the financing for Solstice Studios and is an EP on Hypnotic along with other financiers such as Ingenious Media.
On this Oscar night, SXSW had extra bragging rights as Everything Everywhere All at Once became the festival’s first world premiere (from a year ago) to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
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