Amazon’s Awards Contender ‘Les Miserables’ & Inspirational Bollywood Pic ‘Chhapaak’ Debut – Specialty B.O. Preview

Les Misérables

Amazon is set to open Les Misérables in limited release this week, but if you’re expecting a musical based on the Victor Hugo novel, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Directed by Ladj Ly, the film only shares a name with the popular Broadway musical. The drama tackles the issue of police brutality in France, showing that this is a relevant issue not only in the U.S. but all over the world.

Based on Ly’s 2017 short film, Les Misérables is inspired by the riots that occurred in the suburbs of Paris in 2005. The story hits close to home for Ly as these riots had a long-lasting effect on his neighborhood, Montfermeil. The film follows Stephane (Damien Bonnard) who joins an anti-crime squad in Montfermeil after relocating. As he works with Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), Stephane struggles with defusing the tense relationships between the resident gangs. When things turn violent, the trio must deal with the aftermath and keep the neighborhood from going out of control.

Ly recently Deadline at an Awardsline screening that making his feature film debut was challenging because of financial obstacles — no one wanted to fund it.

“In France, it’s very difficult to make this sort of film, especially when it speaks of minorities and the projects,” he admitted. “We started with our short film, thinking that by making the short, we would gain a lot of traction for making the feature-length as well.”

Damien Bonnard, left, Alexis Manenti and Djebril Zonga in “Les Misérables” Amazon

He continued, “In spite of the success of our short film, which was featured in over 150 festivals and earned a lot of awards, it was still difficult to make the feature-length one because of the subject matter.”

Ly overcame the obstacles despite the controversial subject matter. It premiered in competition at Cannes last year, where it won the Jury Prize. It made its way through the festival circuit and maintained momentum to become an awards-season contender. The film earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language film and is France’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature at the 92nd Oscars. The timing of its release couldn’t be any more perfect: Oscar nominees will be announced Monday.

Les Misérables opens Friday in Los Angles at the Arclight Hollywood and the Landmark as well as New York at the Landmark at 57 West and the Angelika.

When the trailer for the Bollywood film Chhapaak was released, it quickly became one of the most-watched trailers online, outpacing those of huge studio pics Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die and Top Gun: Maverick. Needless to say, it is on track to be a popular film as it is released today in more than 100 theaters in major markets across North America.

The Hindi-language film is based on the true story of Laxmi Agarwal, the victim of an acid attack at the age of 15  in the streets of New Delhi. The film sheds light on surviving acid attacks — which are an epidemic in India — and the repercussions.

The film stars Deepika Padukone (xXx: Return of Xander Cage) who stars as Malti, a character based on Laxmi. Padukone also produces the film while Meghna Gulzar directs. This contributes to the growth of female filmmakers in the Bollywood space. Gulzar also produces alongside Govind Singh Sandhu.

Knives Out star Ana de Armas joins Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen in Aviron’s The Informer directed by Andrea Di Stefano, which is also out this weekend. Based on the novel Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, the script was adapted for the big screen by Di Stefano, Rowan Joffe and Matt Cook. The crime thriller follows Pete Koslow (Kinnaman), a Special Ops soldier who was honorably discharged. After being put in jail after fighting to protect his wife (de Armas), he is given the opportunity for early release by becoming an FBI informant to take down the a powerful crime boss in New York that goes by the name of “The General.”

IFC Films will release the Jon Avnet-directed Three Christs based on Milton Rokeach’s real-life controversial experiment chronicled in his book The Three Christs Of Ypsilanti.

Co-written by Avnet and Eric Nazarian, Three Christs stars Richard Gere, Peter Dinklage, Walton Goggins, Bradley Whitford, Julianna Margulies and Charlotte Hope. Set in 1959, the drama follows psychiatrist Dr. Alan Stone (Gere), whose paranoid schizophrenic patient (Dinklage) believes he is Jesus Christ. Unwilling to use electroshock therapy, Dr. Stone instead begins a risky, unprecedented experiment by transferring his patient to live together with two other paranoid schizophrenics (Whitford and Goggins) who also believe they are Jesus.

Other films set for release this weekend include Anthony Jerjen’s opioid-driven crime drama Inherit the Viper starring Josh Hartnett, Bruce Dern, Chandler Riggs and Margarita Levieva. Abramorama will release the documentary Afterward where Jerusalem-born filmmaker and trauma expert Ofra Bloch puts a spotlight on wave of anti-Semitism sweeping in the world. Also making their debuts are Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy follows the fascinating life of the titular deGruy, the underwater filmmaker who died suddenly in 2012; the Tamil-language action thriller Darbar starring Indian superstar Rajinikanth; and the FIlipino action-comedy 3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon! from Coco Martin.

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