Michael Douglas and Jeremy Irvine are hunter and hunted in their new film, Beyond The Reach, which hits theaters and on-demand this weekend via Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions. The movie, developed by Douglas’ Furthur Films, should get some support from Q&As attended by Irvine and director Jean-Baptieste Léonetti at the Hollywood Arclight this weekend. They will be live-streamed to other locations. The biggest “limited release” of the weekend, however, is Fox Searchlight’s True Story, which will go into more than 800 theaters. The James Franco and Jonah Hill starrer is based on a true story. Robert Sheehan, Zoë Kravitz and Kyra Sedgwick star in Well Go USA’s The Road Within, which will open in three New York and L.A. locations, while Oscilloscope will bow the U.S. leg of international feature Félix And Meira exclusively in New York, with other cities to follow. Also for international cinema fans, Samuel Goldwyn Films is opening Best Foreign Language Oscar nominee Tangerines in select locations.
Also opening is 1915, a new film about the 100th anniversary of the sometimes forgotten Armenian Genocide that claimed as many as 1.5 million Armenians during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. Bloodvine Media along with Strongman and Tuckman Media will open 1915 in theaters Friday with VOD set for April 22. The filmmakers will also join thousands of Armenians in a march for justice on April 24 in Los Angeles to bring attention to the first genocide of modern history, which was recently termed a genocide by Pope Francis to much media attention this past week.
Other openers include RADiUS’ Monster: Dark Continent, Screen Media’s Alex Of Venice and Magnolia’s The Dead Lands.
Beyond The Reach
Director: Jean-Baptieste Léonetti
Writers: Stephen Susco, Robb White (novel)
Cast: Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Martin Palmer, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Ronny Cox, Patricia Bethune, David Garver
Beyond the Reach was developed for Michael Douglas’ Furthur Films, based on the young adult novel Deathwatch by the late Robb White.
The cat-and-mouse thriller follows Ben, a young tracker living in the southwest with his girlfriend Laina. When she leaves for college on a scholarship, Ben makes the difficult choice to remain behind. Meanwhile, Madec, a rich, powerful international businessman, comes to the area to hunt for a bighorn to add to his trophy collection. He hires Ben as his guide through the Reach, a vast and hostile desert basin. The hunt goes tragically wrong as Madec, too eager for a kill, pulls the trigger quickly, and accidentally kills an old prospector. Attempting to cover up his crime, Madec tries to bribe Ben to dispose of the body and forget the incident, but Ben staunchly refuses to play along. Now, Madec must eliminate his only witness. He turns on Ben, sending him into the desert without clothing, food or water…
“Indie moviegoers, Michael Douglas fans and to some degree genre fans will be into this film,” said Roadside co-president Howard Cohen. “It will be a multi-platform release, which Michael [Douglas] is very supportive of.” Mike Fleming reported back in September that the deal for the joint Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions pickup (then called simply The Reach) at the Toronto International Film Festival cost about $2 million.
Producer Robert Mitas gave director Jean-Baptieste Léonetti the script after seeing his first feature, Carré Blanc (2011). Shooting took place in the New Mexican desert.
“On Thursday night we’re going to live stream a Q&A at the Arclight” in Hollywood with Jeremy Irvine and Jean-Baptieste Léonetti, said Cohen, noting that distrib partner Lionsgate has followed a similar strategy on some of its wider releases. “The Arclight will also be promoting the film through their social platforms.” Roadside and Lionsgate will open Beyond The Reach in 26 theaters in 21 markets in addition to digital/on-demand platforms (day and date) beginning Friday.
Director-writer: Rupert Goold
Writers: Michael Finkel, David Kajganich
Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee, Genevieve Angelson, Gretchen Mol, Robert John Burke
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Following his dismissal from the New York Times, Michael Finkel planned a self-exile at his home near Bozeman, Montana, but the capture of the person who had stolen his identity brought on an unexpected new life for Finkel. The unlikely twist became the basis for his memoir, True Story, which HarperCollins published in 2005. Producers Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner read True Story, and quickly saw its feature potential.
True Story is Rupert Goold’s directorial debut. “Goold did a draft of the script,” Kleiner said, “and we [partnered] with New Regency” which financed the project. Their company, Plan B Entertainment had “worked with James Franco on Eat Pray Love (2010) and started a dialog with him then.”
Jonah Hill plays Michael Finkel, who meets Christian Longo (James Franco), a charming, articulate and appealing individual nobody would suspect has committed any crimes. Longo, however, has stolen Finkel’s identity, not for credit card fraud, but instead to pose as him in Mexico where he sought refuge, with his new identity, after being accused of murdering his own wife and children. Longo, however, was caught. During the months of incarceration that preceded his trial, he insisted there was only one individual to whom he would tell his story — the reporter whose name he’d stolen. For Finkel, the offer became an irresistible scoop, and a way to start rebuilding his shattered reputation.
“It’s been a 10-year long process from acquisition of the literary material to production,” added Kleiner. “But that’s how it goes. We’ve made a lot of movies that have had a long life.” Production began on True Story in March 2013 in Warwick, NY, which stood in for Montana. The shoot also moved to New York for a few days, in and around the NYT offices, while Cancun was the set in depicting the arrest of Longo. The overall shoot was 40 days-plus.
Fox Searchlight boarded as distributor in the last half of 2014. The film will have a fairly wide 826 theater release across North America Friday.
The Road Within
Director-writer: Gren Wells
Cast: Robert Sheehan, Zoë Kravitz, Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Patrick, Dev Patel
Distributor: Well Go USA
Well Go USA thought The Road Within would appeal to primarily younger females when it initially acquired the title in late summer. But as the distributor took the feature around additional festivals, they found it also had a big following among the 45-plus crowd.
The coming-of-age comedy centers on Vincent (Robert Sheehan), a young man with Tourette’s, who after his mother dies, finds himself at a center for people dealing with similar disorders. While there, he finds company in Marie (Zoë Kravitz), a young woman at the center for her anorexia, and Alex (Dev Patel), his OCD-stricken roommate. Though their personalities clash, they find themselves on a three-day journey, filled with antics and new friendships. With Dr. Rose (Kyra Sedgwick), the head of the center, and Vincent’s father (Robert Patrick) in pursuit, Vincent, Marie and Alex find they’re perfectly capable of living their lives by their own rules, while breaking some others.
“Everybody likes a road trip movie and this one offers a sweet message,” said Well Go VP Jason Pfardrescher. They knew “the film would play for 18 – 35 females, but we realized it also plays for older folks 45 and over after screening the film at festivals and at word-of-mouth screenings.” The Los Angeles Film Festival 2014 debut is based on the 2010 German feature Vincent Wants To Sea by Ralf Huettner. That film won the Outstanding Feature Film prize at the German Film Awards in 2011 as well as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Florian David Fitz.
“Zoë Kravitz has been featured on magazine covers focusing on the film, and our press day was [great] with Kyra Sedgwick there,” added Pfardrescher. “Word is spreading through the [cast’s] social media as well.” Well Go USA will open Friday at the AMC Empire 25 in New York as well as the Laemmle Noho and Laemmle Music Box theaters in L.A. Well Go will add 10 locations for The Road Within on April 24 with additional runs thereafter.
Félix And Meira
Director-writer: Maxime Giroux
Writer: Alexandre Lafferrière
Cast: Martin Dubreuil, Hadas Yaron, Luzer Twersky, Anne-Élisabeth Bossé, Benoît Girard, Melissa Weisz
Producer Sylvain Corbeil had known writer-director Maxime Giroux socially for years, but the chance to work together on a project materialized after Giroux parted ways with a previous long-time producer. Giroux shared a script for Felix And Meira with Corbeil, and things took off. Félix And Meira “caught my attention. It has all the ingredients we wanted and a great and original script that will be good for international sales,” said Corbeil, who is based in Montréal. “So we decided to go on this crazy adventure together. It took three years.”
Félix And Meira is a story of unconventional romance between two people from very different backgrounds who happen to live just blocks from each other. Meira (Hadas Yaron) is a Hasidic housewife and mother, while Félix (Martin Dubreuil) is a neighbor who is mourning the recent death of his father. They unexpectedly meet in a local bakery in Montréal’s Mile End district. They initially connect in an innocent friendship that becomes more serious. Félix begins to open Meira’s eyes to the world outside her insular Orthodox community, and she eventually has to choose between the life she’s always known or one with Félix.
Part of the long development process was due to funding. Canada, like many countries, provides resources for homegrown films. Félix And Meira received backing via TeleFilm Canada, the federal agency that oversees fund disbursements, but the office overseeing the province of Québec’s funds was skittish. “We applied for other co-productions in France and Israel, but those didn’t work out,” said Corbeil. “Urban Distribution International in France, however, helped with foreign sales.”
Casting was also a bit of a challenge. Corbeil said Giroux was initially hesitant to have Hadas Yaron as the female lead because her part in Fill The Void (2012) seemed to go against the persona of Meira. “We sent her the script behind his back and had her do an audition,” said Corbeil. “Maxime [Giroux] was blown away by it.” Other cast included Luzer Twersky, who Corbeil said, kept a watchful eye on the portrayal of Hasidic culture. “He was our Hasidic supervisor.” Production took place in Venice and New York in December 2013 as well as Montréal in the first quarter of 2014. “The budget was only $500K CAD, but we had the TeleFilm money and had to start shooting before it expired,” said Corbeil. Despite some other funding they “had to cut down on some staff. It was still one of the best shooting experiences I’ve ever had.”
Félix And Meira opened at the Toronto International Film Festival where it picked up the Best Canadian Feature Film Prize. Oscilloscope came aboard soon afterward. The film ran for 10 weeks in Québec in 8 theaters. In the U.S., it will open at Lincoln Plaza in New York exclusively Friday and at the Royal in L.A. the following week. It will add locations in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle May 1 with a dozen other cities planned over the rest of the month.
Director-writer: Zaza Urushadze
Cast: Lembit Ulfsak, Mikheil Meskhi, Elmo Nüganen, Giorgi Nakashidze, Raivo Trass
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Tangerines is the final film of this year’s crop of Oscar nominees in the Best Foreign Language category to open theatrically stateside.
Set in 1992, during the growing conflict between Georgia and Abkhazian separatists in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, this compassionate tale focuses on two Estonian immigrant farmers who decide to remain in Georgia long enough to harvest their tangerine crop. When the war comes to their doorsteps, Ivo (played by legendary Estonian actor Lembit Ulfsak) takes in two wounded soldiers from opposite sides. The fighters vow to kill each other when they recover, but their extended period of recovery has a humanizing effect that might transcend ethnic divides. Set against a beautiful landscape defiled by war, this poetic film makes an eloquent statement for peace.
The story “takes pace in a specific region, but it’s very universal,” said Goldwyn Films exec Peter Goldwyn. “Going into the Golden Globes and then the Oscars, it is the last film that fans of foreign film have yet to see. We think opening it now [as opposed to] before the Oscars will get those people out to see it.”
If true, Tangerines stands a chance of grossing over 7-figures considering the performance of its fellow nominees. Sony Classics opened Leviathan on Christmas day, grossing $15,200 in two theaters ($7,600 PTA), going on to cume $1.092 million; The company’s other nominee Wild Tales grossed $85,100 in 4 theaters ($21,275 PTA) opening weekend in February. It has cumed over $2.21 million. Cohen Media Group’s Timbuktu bowed in 4 theaters, grossing $45,110 ($11,278 PTA) and has now cumed over $1.04 million. This year’s Oscar winner, Ida, which Music Box Films opened last May, is still the box office champ among the group. It opened in 3 theaters, averaging $18,479. It went on to cume over $3.82 million.
Tangerines will open exclusively at Lincoln Plaza on Friday in New York followed by several locations in greater Los Angeles the following week. Samuel Goldwyn Films will continue to bow Tangerines in additional U.S. markets throughout May.