Another busy post-summer lineup of specialties are heading into theaters this weekend, including Sundance and Toronto’s period bio-drama Colette by filmmaker Wash Westmoreland, opening in New York and L.A. via Bleecker Street. And fresh off of its Venice and Toronto debuts, Annapurna’s The Sisters Brothers by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard, starring John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal, which will also begin in both cities before rolling out further in the coming weeks. Tribeca Film Festival opener, Love, Gilda will get a wider bow in over eighty locations Friday via Magnolia Pictures. Sundance Selects is launching fellow doc Tea with the Dames spotlighting Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith, while also on the non-fiction front, Greenwich Entertainment is opening Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable theatrically before airing on PBS next year.
Other limited releases coming out this weekend include PJ Raval’s documentary Call Her Ganda at AMC Loews 34th Street and Maysles Cinema in New York. Janus Films is opening the 4K restoration of 1934 film L’Atalante by Jean Vigo at Film Forum in New York. Cinedigm is opening American Dresser with Tom Berenger, Keith David, Bruce Dern and Gina Gershon and Well Go USA has The Great Battle, while Vertical Entertainment bows The Pagan King.
Director-writer: Wash Westmoreland
Writers: Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Cast: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Robert Pugh, Eleanor Tomlinson
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Bleecker Street teamed with 30West in the first major deal at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to acquire Wash Westmoreland’s Colette, starring Keira Knightley. Both companies reportedly beat out other Specialty companies to pick up the title, which begins its theatrical run Friday.
“We saw it at Sundance and instantly wanted to acquire it,” said Bleecker Street president of Distribution Jack Foley. “Our good fortune was that we were right next to the 30West guys [at the Eccles Theater] who wanted [the film too] and we appealed to the powers that be. We haven’t worked with Wash Westmoreland before this, but we know [producer] Christine Vachon well. We’ve worked with her going back to our days at Focus and of course it’s great to be back in business with Keira Knightley.”
While at Focus, Foley along with Bleecker Street Andrew Karpen worked on a number of Knightley starrers including Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, which grossed well into eight figures theatrically.
Colette centers on Sidonie-Gabriellle Colette (Knightley) who after marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression.
“[Westmoreland] is collaborative and works with you, and Keira has been working very aggressively,” said Foley about getting word out about the film ahead of its roll out. “There was a lot of long-lead press interested in Keira, which [augmented] awareness and we did a lot of trailer placement. We played the trailer before The Wife, which is part of the core audience for this film.”
Bleecker Street, which is spearheading theatrical, is opening Colette at the Paris and Angelika theaters in New York as well as The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Added Foley: “It’s getting into a competitive playtime, so we’re targeting art houses [initially] but we’re hoping that the film will allow us to cross over. It’s a classic roll out that targets this demographic — devotees of Keira Knightley in a period piece.”
In the second weekend, Colette will head to a dozen markets in about 30 theaters ahead of further expansion.
Said Foley: “She has a kind of brand, so it’s important to get to these core people who will advocate for the film and allow for crossover. We’re optimistic.”
The Sisters Brothers
Director-writer: Jacques Audiard|
Writers: Thomas Bidegain, Patrick DeWitt (book)
Cast: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhall, Riz Ahmed
Actor John C. Reilly optioned the book The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt with producer Alison Dickey. The script was sent to Annapurna, while still in development. Noted Annapurna’s president of Distribution, Erik Lomis: “We got involved almost immediately after reading the material and were thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with this incredible team. As a company, we have been fans of Jacques and John C. Reilly for quite some time and loved the approach and vision they shared for the Western genre with this specific work in mind.”
Set in 1851, Charlie and Eli Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly) are brothers and assassins, boys grown to men in a savage and hostile world. They have blood on their hands, and they know no state of existence other than being gunmen. The older of the two, introspective Eli (Reilly), rides hard even while the younger, hard-drinking Charlie (Phoenix) has taken charge. Each increasingly questions, and quibbles with, the other’s methods. The brothers find themselves on a journey through the Northwest, bringing them to the mountains of Oregon, a dangerous brothel in the small town of Mayfield, and eventually, the Gold Rush land of California — a journey that will test the deadly family ties that bind.
“Annapurna is a filmmaker-driven establishment, so to be a part of [director] Jacques Audiard’s first English-language film and partner with him on material that was such a natural match to his artistry was something not to be missed…”
With the film’s roll out in several New York and L.A. locations this weekend, the company is targeting the core cinephile audience, but is expecting to broaden out to others including Western fans who tend to be older males, according to Lomis.
“We have been able to use two festivals, Venice and Toronto, to launch the film and have set the table with strong reviews and praise for Audiard and the cast,” he noted. “Additionally, we have a MoMA retrospective honoring Jacques Audiard, and we are continuing to expand our reach with talent appearances, targeted word-of-mouth screenings and materials over the next few weeks as we roll out.”
The company is anticipating a weekend box office between $80K-$100K. The Sisters Brothers will continue to roll out slowly over the next six weeks.
Director: Lisa Dapolito
Appearances: Gilda Radner (archive footage), Chevy Chase, Amy Poehler, Andrew Alexander, Bill Vader, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Filmmaker and actor Lisa Dapolito was familiar with Gilda Radner’s various characters, but didn’t “know her well” when she began doing fundraising for Gilda’s Club, the nonprofit organization founded in the late comedian’s name to provide emotional and social support for people living with cancer, their families and friends.
Said Dapolito: “People at Gilda’s Club talked about her in such a way. I read her book and started talking to members of the club. She has such a unique legacy being an important comedian as well as the legacy of Gilda’s Club.”
Dapolito, who had been working on branded long-form pieces, had always been interested in documentary. Originally she thought of doing something specific about Gilda’s Club. While filming some kids going to a camp, she saw a girl drawing a picture of Radner’s famous SNL character Roseanne Roseannadanna. The girl said to Dapolito, “I’m drawing Gilda.” Afterward, she contacted Radner’s writing partner, Alan Zeibel, for an interview. The meeting began a four-and-a-half year project.
Love, Gilda weaves together recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with her friends, rare home movies and diaries read by modern day comediennes, including Amy Poehler, offering a window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer.
“I was still doing other projects and commercials at the time,” said Dapolito. “I’d do those projects, then turn back to this. Then, I finally got Gilda’s brother’s [support], who gave me access to her boxes which had [a treasure trove] of interviews and audio tapes. There was a lot of stuff.”
Meanwhile, an Indiegogo campaign was set up raising $55K, much of it support from Radner’s friends and family. The money gave the project a push, including restoring audio from Radner’s tapes, taking about two years. Added Dapolito: “The mission was to tell the story from Gilda’s point of view. That was the impetus that gave me the [roadmap] to do more than just talking to people about Gilda.”
Nevertheless, the film does also include interviews, including high profile talent who knew her. Despite her family’s green light, getting Radner’s entertainment colleagues and friends to talk was a challenge.
“Nobody was easy to get an interview from,” she said. “They love Gilda and miss her, and there are sides to Gilda that are complex, so people are very protective of that.” Dapolito said the interviews were shot over three years. Paul Shaffer was first, followed by Laraine Newman. Added the filmmaker: “And once I got Amy Poehler, that lead to Martin Short. Once I was able to get one, they would tell others that it was OK.”
Dapolito needed to raise money throughout the process. After securing many of the interviews, she took part in a “dealmaker” program hosted by Toronto documentary festival Hot Docs. Through that program, she met CNN Films, which provided funds to complete the film. “It had become expensive with all the restoration and the crew needed to get it done,” she said. “But at each point of the film, there was something that would move it forward.”
Love, Gilda opened the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Magnolia, which has partnered with CNN Films on a number of docs including RBG, came on board to handle theatrical. Love, Gilda opens in 85 theaters this weekend. Dapolito will take part in select Q&As this weekend in New York. It will also be available via on-demand beginning September 25.
Tea with the Dames
Director: Roger Michell
Subjects: Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith
Distributor: Sundance Selects
IFC Films has been in discussions about releasing Roger Michell’s doc Tea with the Dames since pre-production. It is opening the title stateside through its Sundance Selects label theatrically this weekend, followed by on-demand starting next week.
“When we saw the final version, we closed the deal right away,” said IFC Films exec Arianna Bocco. “The film speaks for itself.”
Tea with the Dames spotlights Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright, among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and BAFTAs between them. They are also longtime friends who hereby invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another, reminisce, and share their candid, delightfully irreverent thoughts on everything from art to aging to love to a life lived in the spotlight.
“You’re spending 90 minutes with these amazing women and it feels intimate,” commented Bocco. “They’re funny and it’s warm. You can take your mom to see this movie — and your dad. It’s a glimpse into a world with women that you love.”
Bocco said the trailer “interaction rate” has been “one of the highest” of any of its films. She also noted that the title has had successful runs at home in the U.K. as well as in Australia.
“I think this is the kind of film that will fit with older women, but I think there’s a younger audience who know these women and love them,” added Bocco. “The word-of-mouth is high, which we’re seeing on social media. That combined with reviews and the momentum coming out of its release [abroad] looks good for this one.”
Sundance Selects opens Tea with the Dames at the Quad in New York. It also screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Friday, followed by an L.A. bow at the Royal the following weekend.
Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable
Director: Sasha Waters Freyer
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Told through photographer Garry Winogrand’s own words and pictures, Sasha Waters Freyer’s documentary was shown to distributor Greenwich Entertainment following its SXSW premiere earlier this year.
Decades before digital technology transformed how we make and see pictures, Garry Winogrand made hundreds of thousands of them with his 35mm Leica, creating an encyclopedic portrait of America from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. When he died suddenly at age 56, Winogrand left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film – more than a quarter of a million pictures. These images capture a bygone era: the New York of Mad Men and the early years of the Women’s Movement, the birth of American suburbs, and the glamour and alienation of Hollywood. He produced so many unseen images that it has taken until now for the full measure of his artistic legacy to emerge.
Heading into its release, Greenwich is tapping aficionados of photography, including those who are amateur photo takers on social media, as well as those with an affinity for the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“Winogrand potentially appeals to audiences with an interest in art, photography, street photography, cultural history of the Sixties and Seventies, New York and Los Angeles and certainly for those who are already familiar with Winogrand and his work,” noted Greenwich Entertainment’s Ed Arentz. “As an influential street photographer and someone who took a high volume of photographs, his work and practice dovetails closely with new practitioners of street photography, [such as] anyone with a smart phone and an Instagram account. So marketing the film online is really about encouraging people to discover or rediscover his photographs.”
The company is taking the film out in its theatrical window before it eventually airs on American Masters in PBS in 2019. The film opens exclusively at New York’s Film Forum this weekend, followed by the Nuart the following week. The title will also be in a mix of calendar, cinematheque and museum engagements.