Women and music are at the center of two new Specialty releases this weekend. LD Entertainment/Bleecker Street is taking Elle Fanning starrer Teen Spirit by Max Minghella to New York and L.A. before a fairly wide expansion next weekend, while Gunpowder & Sky is opening Alex Ross Perry’s punk drama Her Smell with Elisabeth Moss in New York and Toronto. The titles join a fairly packed group of new limited releases this weekend. Molly Shannon stars as Emily Dickinson in Greenwich Entertainment’s Wild Nights with Emily by Madeleine Olnek which launches in New York and L.A. before heading to 50 markets in the coming weeks. In the wake of its lucrative if controversial opening in China, Kino Lorber is opening Bi Gan’s Cannes debut Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Also from China is Well Go USA’s Master Z: Ip Man Legacy, launching in 20 North American markets. Magnolia Pictures, meanwhile, is taking Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone’s Dogman to both coasts Friday.
Among other limited theatrical debuts this weekend
Among other limited theatrical debuts this weekend are Stockholm from Smith Global Media and starring Ethan Hawke in 300 theaters and Satan & Adam from Cargo Film & Releasing at Village East in New York. Vertical Entertainment is opening Boo! in a day and date roll out. Voltage Pictures is opening drama-romance After and Cohen Media Group is bowing war-drama, Girls Of The Sun.
Director-writer: Max Minghella
Cast: Elle Fanning, Agnieszka Grochowska, Archie Madekwe
Distributor: LD Entertainment/Bleecker Street
Bleecker Street picked up music drama Teen Spirit from LD Entertainment last year. Starring Elle Fanning, the title bowed in Toronto and screened at the recent SXSW Film Festival.
“Mickey Liddell and Jamie Bell are very collaborative producers and that has added to the excitement of working on this movie,” said Bleecker Street’s president of Distribution, Jack Foley. “The thing that really makes the film exploitable is that it has a very clear target audience.”
In Teen Spirit, Fanning stars as Violet, a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition.
Bleecker Street is honing in on three primary audiences for Teen Spirit as it heads into theaters Friday. “One primary category is women between 13 and 25 — they’re the hotspot,” said Foley. “They’re the group who have been seeing Five Feet Apart (Lionsgate, $41.9M). There’s also an older female group who will view Elle’s journey [in the film] as not unlike their collective experience. It’s very marketable and we’re hoping to get strong results from those two sectors.” Foley added that social media has also indicated interest from the LGBT community as the title gears up for its roll out.
Bleecker Street has created content that it has released through various social media platforms and websites targeting its core groups. “The digital area is the best way to hit those key demographics,” he said.
Bleecker Street is opening at Lincoln Square and the Angelika in New York along with AMC Century City and the ArcLight in Los Angeles Friday. The company will take the title nationally April 19 to about 800 theaters.
Director-writer: Alex Ross Perry
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Agyness Deyn, Amber Heard, Gayle Rankin, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula, Virginia Madsen and Eric Stoltz
Distributor: Gunpowder & Sky
Gunpowder & Sky caught filmmaker Alex Ross Perry’s punk drama Her Smell at Toronto. The company kept an eye on the title as it moved to its festival rounds in the U.S.
“We loved it in Toronto and followed it to the New York Film Festival,” said the company’s Janet Brown. “We signed on right after that. We kept it quiet after New York and then took it to SXSW leading into the release this week.”
Her Smell centers on Becky Something, a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.
The company is targeting music fans for its release. “The reception at SXSW was great. All these great women from early punk like Joan Jett are loose references for us, and it’s been a while since there’s been a great punk rock film.”
Joan Jett aside, a good amount of press have focused on the parallels between Elisabeth Moss’ Becky Something and ’90s vintage Courtney Love. Her Smell marks the third Alex Ross Perry film to feature Moss, including Queen of Earth (2015) and Listen Up Philip (2014). Gunpowder is looking to the possibility of awards notice come later in the year.
“This is a real tour de force performance from Elisabeth Moss,” noted Brown. “Alex is modest about it, but we see this film as proof point about their collaboration. We’re excited for the early awards attention with her performance.”
Her Smell will open at select New York and Toronto locations Friday, followed by about 20 cities including Los Angeles next weekend. Added Brown: “Alex is a mainstay of the art house community so theaters have been great and we’re eager to expand beyond that.”
Wild Nights With Emily
Director-writer: Madeleine Olnek
Cast: Molly Shannon, Susan Ziegler, Amy Seimetz, Joel Michael, Brett Gelman, Kevin Seal, Dana Melanie, Sasha Frolova, Casper Andreas
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Greenwich picked up Emily Dickinson historical feature Wild Nights With Emily from Cinetic Media following its 2018 SXSW Film Festival debut. The title has played a heavy roster of film festivals since including Seattle, Provincetown, Frameline, Outfest, Hamptons and more.
Molly Shannon stars as Emily Dickinson set in mid-19th century Amherst. She is writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, if clandestine lesbian affair. While seeking publication of some of her nearly 2,000 poems, Dickinson faces condescending male literary gatekeepers too confused by her genius to take her writing seriously. Eventually, her work attracts the attention of a scheming would-be writer, who also happens to be Emily’s brother’s lover, and sees Emily’s poetry as a vehicle for her own creative ambitions.
“We found it to be smart, funny and moving – the big three reactions that any moviegoer or would-be distributor can only hope for,” commented Greenwich’s Ed Arentz. “Clearly [director] Madeleine Olnek knew her subject inside and out but she performed the rare feat of wearing her erudition lightly and dramatizing her material with great craft and cleverness.”
Greenwich has targeted the “obvious affinity groups” through word-of-mouth screenings along with grassroots and social media. Added Arentz: “Emily Dickinson is rightfully a rock star in poetry circles and her legions of fans will certainly not fail to be affected by seeing the poet’s life portrayed – really for the first time – without all the dour accretions that have formed around her since her death.”
Greenwich Entertainment is rolling out Wild Nights With Emily in a traditional art house platform release, including select locations in New York and Los Angeles in its first frame ahead of a planned expansion to the top 50 markets in the next several weeks.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Director: Bi Gan
Cast: Wei Tang, Jue Huang, Sylvia Chang, Hong-Chi Lee, Yongzhong Chen
Distributor: Kino Lorber Films
Long Day’s Journey Into Night wowed the Chinese box office this past New Years following a controversial marketing campaign that lured audiences to the tune of $38M on its opening night, becoming one of China’s largest art house releases ever.
The noir-laced feature centers on a lost soul who is on a quest to find a missing woman from his past. Following leads across Guizhou province, he crosses paths with a series of colorful characters, among them a prickly hairdresser played by Taiwanese superstar Sylvia Chang. When the search leads him to a dingy movie theater, the film launches into an hour-long, “gravity-defying” 3D sequence that plunges its protagonist into a labyrinthine cityscape.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night debuted in last year’s Un Certain Regard section in Cannes and went on to win a host of international prizes at festivals and beyond.
“If we had acquired it [when it launched in China] we might have been forced to triple our bid,” joked Kino Lorber head, Richard Lorber. “This is the kind of film that’s in our DNA. It pushes the envelope of cinema and this is the kind of film we savor. The technical virtuosity wowed us in every way, so we were made for each other.”
The title’s heavy attention in China has spread to this side of the Pacific, drumming up interest, according to Lorber. He added that the film’s partial 3D sequence did not hinder interest from theaters. “We don’t seek out films with 3D, but we did do Goodbye to Language (2014) from Jean-Luc Godard. We’ve had no troubles getting bookings.” Lorber noted that some locations were “eventizing” screenings, adding: “There’s a novel aspect to the film.”
Long Day’s Journey Into Night will bow at select location in New York and Seattle Friday followed by L.A. and Toronto April 19. The title will then head to the top 20 DMAs with further expansion expected. Said Lorber: “It’s something that requires a thoughtful roll out [maximizing] press interest, but so far, so good.”
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Director: Yuen Woo-ping
Cast: Max Zhang, Dave Bautista, Liu Yan, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Jaa
Distributor: Well Go USA
Well Go USA has released three of the martial arts-centered Ip Man titles on this continent and will bow the latest, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy this weekend. “We acquired multiple territories when the movie was in pre-production,” noted Well Go USA’s Doris Pfardrescher. “The Ip Man franchise is a big part of our identity so were always into the spin-off and having the legendary Yuen Woo Ping behind the camera, and with Max Zhang as the hero, was a winning formula in our minds.”
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy takes place following Cheung Tin Chi’s defeat by Master Ip. Cheung tries to make a life with his young son in Hong Kong, waiting tables at a bar that caters to expats. But it’s not long before the mix of foreigners, money, and triad leaders draw him once again to the fight.
“We are definitely tapping into the Ip Man universe but careful to represent Master Z as a standalone franchise,” explained Pfardrescher. “Master Z is truly a crossover film reaching kung fu and action fans from all walks of life.”
The title took in over $20M at home in China where it debuted in late December. Well Go USA said it wanted to give itself “enough time to market it properly” when choosing the title’s release stateside, taking into account “the home country’s release date and taking delivery.”
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is opening in about 60 locations in the top 20 markets across North America. Well Go USA will expand regionally on April 19 and again on April 26 with additional expansion based on performance.
Director-writer: Matteo Garrone
Writers: Ugo Chiti, Massimo Guadioso
Cast: Marcello Fonte, Eddardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano, Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli, Alida Baleari Calabria, Gianluca Gobbi
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Dogman actor Marcello Fonte won best actor at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for his role in Dogman, which Magnolia Pictures picked up out of the festival.
Dogman is set in a seaside village on the outskirts of an Italian city, where the only law seems to be survival of the fittest. Marcello is a slight, mild-mannered man who divides his days between working at his modest dog grooming salon, caring for his daughter Alida, and being coerced into the petty criminal schemes of the local bully Simoncino, an ex-boxer who terrorizes the neighborhood. When Simoncino’s abuse finally brings Marcello to a breaking point, he decides to stand up for his own dignity through an act of vengeance, with unintended consequences.
“Dogman is a powerful entry into the canon of Italian crime cinema,” commented Magnolia’s Neal Block. “We’re collaborating closely with Cinema Made in Italy — a program of the Italian government — to boost its awareness here in the U.S.”
Magnolia eyed a spring release for the title. This weekend worked best for its bow at Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Commented Block: “ Sometimes you just gotta see when the best theaters in the city are available to you, and work backwards from there.”
Dogman is having a traditional roll out with the Nuart in L.A. also slated in addition to its New York runs.