Timothée Chalamet charmed audiences last fall with his Oscar-nominated performance in Call Me By Your Name. This season he’s opposite Steve Carell in bio-drama Beautiful Boy, based on two best-selling memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff. The feature, from Amazon Studios, opens this weekend in New York and L.A., leading to national expansions in early November. Rupert Everett comes out with his directorial debut, The Happy Prince, based on the final days of Oscar Wilde. Everett also wrote, and stars along with Colin Firth and Emily Watson in the feature which opened Wednesday in limited release via Sony Pictures Classics.
Roadside Attractions and Topic Studios’ The Oath takes a comedic look at a divided America. The film by Ike Barinholtz, co-starring Tiffany Haddish, opens in 10 locations Friday before jumping to 250 next week. And SXSW debut Sadie opens in a self-release by Megan Griffiths.
Other limited releases include Paladin comedy-romance Stella’s Last Weekend and Flix Premiere drama Bikini Moon. Also on screens this weekend are Good Deed Entertainment’s After Everything with Maika Monroe and Marisa Tomei, and Abramorama animated doc Liyana.
Director-writer: Felix Van Groeningen
Writers: Luke Davies, David Sheff (book), Nic Sheff (book)
Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Amazon Studios’ weekend release Beautiful Boy is based on two books, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and Tweak by his son, Nic Sheff. Starring Oscar nominees Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, the bio-drama directed by Felix Van Groeningen debuted at last month’s Toronto Film Festival followed Aspen and Mill Valley as well as opening the Chicago International Film Festival this week.
The story chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years. Teenager Nicolas Sheff (Chalamet) appears to have it all with good grades, editor of his school newspaper as well as being an actor, artist and athlete. But when Nic’s addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his desperate father (Carell) does whatever he can to save his son and his family.
“It’s great to see so much support [for the film] especially coming from busy, big actors,” said Amazon Studios’ Bob Berney. “It’s based on two perspectives [from two generations] and that perspective is great for [appealing] to older and younger audiences. And people are happy to see Nic is still alive.”
Since its Toronto bow, the title has screened multiple times for tastemakers, bringing out David Sheff and Nic Sheff to events along with Steve Carell. “We’re also doing [programs] with students and community groups,” said Berney. “The plan is for Nic and Timmy to talk to high school and college students that work with addiction issues. We’re leading with the performances in the film, but this is an issue [worth talking about]. Everyone has known someone who needs to get sober.”
Berney added that there was concern that some audiences would imagine the film as being preachy, but the key is with Chalamet in the role as Nic. “When they see it particularly through Timmy’s performance, they can relate… He has been very active on social media as well. It’s amazing to see the following he has and that gives me hope that younger audiences will turn out.”
Carell and Chalamet turned out Wednesday night for a screening organized by awards maven Peggy Siegal in New York, suggesting the studio is looking for awards recognition. Beautiful Boy is opening Friday at the Angelika and AMC Lincoln Square in New York as well as The Landmark and Arclight in Los Angeles. Beautiful Boy will then head to 11 markets the following week and will go wide November 2 and November 9.
Added Berney: “We’re letting word of mouth [gestate] the first couple of weeks.”
The Happy Prince
Director-writer: Rupert Everett
Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Emily Watson
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Rupert Everett’s The Happy Prince is not the first time the actor (and now director) has approached poet/playwright Oscar Wilde in his big screen work. Everett starred opposite Julianne Moore in 1999’s An Ideal Husband and in 2002 along with Colin Firth in The Importance of Being Earnest. With The Happy Prince, Everett adds ‘director’ to his credits (and reunites with Firth) in a bio-drama he wrote based on the final days of Wilde. The title debuted at Sundance in January.
In a cheap Parisian hotel room Oscar Wilde lies on his death bed and the past floods back, transporting him to other times and places. Was he once the most famous man in London? The artist crucified by a society that once worshiped him? The lover imprisoned and freed, yet still running towards ruin in the final chapter of his life? He reviews the failed attempt to reconcile with his long suffering wife Constance, the ensuing reprisal of his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas and the warmth and devotion of Robbie Ross who tried and failed to save him from himself. From Dieppe to Naples to Paris freedom is elusive and Oscar is a penniless vagabond, always moving on, shunned by his old acquaintances, but revered by a strange group of outlaws and urchins to whom he tells the old stories – his incomparable wit still sharp.
“There have been many film versions of Oscar Wilde’s life, but this [focus] on the final stages of his life hasn’t been seen in detail,” noted Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker. “Everett has really risen to the occasion and it’s something that took him many years to put together and then execute.”
Barker and co-president Tom Bernard have worked with Everett throughout his career, releasing Another Country while the two headed Orion. Added Barker: “Now, 34 years later, we’re releasing The Happy Prince with Everett as writer, director and actor. He wanted us as much as we wanted him.”
Barker added that Everett has done a “tireless” round of screenings, promoting the film in a tour around the U.S. He expects the film’s audience to include a cross-section of Wilde fans and others.
“People of all ages love Oscar Wilde through his short stories, plays and novels,” said Barker. “The fans of Wilde are legion. There’s also a particularly female audience really into [the film], and of course the gay audience. Rupert is an icon himself. The accumulation of his professional lifetime is invested in this film as actor, writer and director.”
The Happy Prince opened Wednesday in select New York and L.A. locations, and will head to other major markets including Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. next week. It will then broaden out from there.
Director-writer: Ike Barinholtz
Cast: Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein, Billy Magnussen, Meredith Hagner, Jon Barinholtz, Nora Dunn, Chris Ellis
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Topic Studios
Just ahead of holiday season, Roadside and Topic Studios is bringing a comedy-thriller it hopes will tug at a nation divided.
The Oath centers around a man (Ike Barinholtz) and his wife (Tiffany Haddish) whose Thanksgiving takes a turn when two federal agents give the family something to worry about beyond typical holiday dinner table political rifts.
“We’re excited about it because it’s incredibly well-timed,” said Roadside co-president Howard Cohen. “We saw it in an April screening for distributors and shortly afterward we acquired it.”
In the run-up to this weekend’s bow, Roadside released a teaser followed by a full trailer and a red band trailer. Said Cohen: “The messaging we’re trying to get across is a few things. It’s funny, sophisticated and topical — but topical in the way that Saturday Night Live can be topical. It’s not a rehash of the news. It might push your buttons, but it’s not listening to news. I don’t think people want to hear about other people talking about Trump. This is more of a satire about us. There are laughs, but laughs with a sting.”
Writer, director and star Barinholtz has visited nine cities with the film to promote, and Roadside is expecting Haddish’s recent release Night School to bring some luster.
“Night School is a hit and brought her back to the public consciousness and she’s in [Tyler Perry’s] Nobody’s Fool next month,” said Cohen. “[Barinholtz] also has a following as a comedian and his screenings have been fantastic. He has appeared on local news everywhere. It all came to a head with the premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which was a great screening. We received good reviews out of the festival and this film is outside the usual Sundance/Toronto roster. It’s had a great life of its own, but we’ll see how it goes in the marketplace.”
The Oath opens in two locations each in New York and Los Angeles as well as six Washington, D.C. area theaters. The title will expand to about 250 theaters in major markets on October 19.
Director-writer: Megan Griffiths
Cast: Sophia Mitri Schloss, Melanie Lynskey, John Gallagher Jr., Tony Hale, Keith L. Williams, Danielle Brooks
Distribution: Self release
Filmmaker Megan Griffiths has worked with distributors on five previous films, but decided to handle the distribution for her latest, Sadie, which debuted at SXSW. Griffiths began writing the drama in 2009, influenced by a “larger cultural conversation around youth and violence.”
Sadie is an unsettling and darkly funny story of a young girl (Sophia Mitri Schloss) who is the daughter of a soldier and models herself after his military example. When her mom Rae (Melanie Lynskey) begins dating Cyrus (John Gallagher Jr.), Sadie vows to come between them whatever it takes.
Griffiths teamed with producer Lacey Leavitt early in the process and took the script to the Sundance Producers Lab, the IFP No Borders and the Rotterdam Co-Production Market in 2011.
“In the course of the eight years it took to get Sadie into production,” noted Griffiths, “I directed four other features, but Sadie was always on my mind and I knew it was a film I needed to make. In the fall of 2016, we brought another great Seattle producer, Jennessa West, onto the team and set our sights on shooting in January, when both Melanie Lynskey and I had a window of availability. Then the election happened and gave us all a renewed motivation to direct our energy to something meaningful and impactful.”
Eliza Shelden, who had been a supporter of the project, came on board officially after the election as executive producer and provided full financing. Griffiths worked with casting director Amy Rene, which whom she had worked on two of her previous films. Sophia Mitri Schloss joined in the role of Sadie, while Griffiths met Melanie Lynskey through Mark Duplass.
“Melanie’s involvement was instrumental to our process, since she is such a beloved actor who so many other actors want to work with. The rest of our amazing cast, John Gallagher Jr., Danielle Brooks, Tony Hale, Keith L. Williams and Tee Dennard, all joined the production within the two months leading into our January 2017 shoot.” Sadie shot over 19 days in Everett, WA.
Along with SXSW in March, the title played the Seattle and Los Angeles film festivals. The filmmaking team felt the title needed a specific release approach and were inspired by a successful self-release from last year.
“My producers and I read and were inspired by the Sundance Institute case study for the creative distribution of Columbus (grossing just over $1M at the box office) and we initiated conversations with several others who had taken matters into their own hands with their films. Everyone warned us about the amount of work we were signing up for, but ultimately we felt we were up to the task, and that the reward would come in the empowerment we’d feel in steering the process and knowing that we’d left every ounce of energy on the table.”
Out of SXSW, the group took advantage of Amazon’s Festival Stars bonus which it combined with a portion of the production budget for a self-release. Noted Griffiths: “With that money and the support of our EP Eliza, we were able to walk away from more traditional distribution offers. We brought on distribution strategist Mia Bruno, the digital marketing and social media management company Thin Pig, Brigade Marketing, and academic advisor Anna Feder to aid in booking school screenings, which we knew had to be a part of our plan, given our film’s themes, and have spent the past four months preparing for our limited theatrical release, which kicks off this Friday in New York, L.A. and Olympia, WA.”
Sadie is also slated for at least eight other cities. The title will also be available on iTunes in November and will hit Amazon’s streaming platform in late February.