New Distribution Deals
Glenn Close has been nominated five times for an Academy Award, but has yet to win. Will her portrayal of Albert Nobbs allow her to bring home the little golden man? Albert Nobbs has been acquired for distribution by Liddell Entertainment and Roadside Attractions and will hit theaters this fall. The press release, posted by indieWIRE, notes that the two companies worked together on last year's Biutiful, which resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Javier Bardem, and boldly states: "Industry pundits already rank [Close] among those likely to be vying for an Oscar this season."
The film is based on a novella by George Moore, which also served as the basis for an Off-Broadway play, in which Close played Albert Nobbs, winning an Obie Award in 1982. Close, who shares screenplay and producing credits, is clearly passionate about the character, and will no doubt beat the drum for it, publicity-wise, as much as possible. The supporting cast is intriguing -- including young stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) -- but the focus will be on Close, who reportedly appears in "nearly ever frame" of the film. Albert Nobbs is set in 19th century Dublin; the title character is "a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive." We imagine it will be play at key fall film festivals before its theatrical release.
A much more low-profile drama, Kinyarwanda, has also been picked up for a fall theatrical release, per indieWIRE. The salient point here is that Kinyarwanda won the Audience Award for World Cinema Drama at the Sundance Film Festival in January, so it potentially has appeal beyond the normal art house audiences. Kinyarwanda is described as a "Rwandan-produced drama about the country’s 1994 genocide [that] interweaves six true stories into a single narrative." The film will be released by AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) in November.
Indie Box Office
Against the mighty roar of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and the distractions of a long holiday weekend, Azazel Jacobs' Terri made as much noise as possible, ended up with an average of $13,043 per screen at six locations, according to Box Office Mojo. Overall, the reviews have been positive for the comedy, and its healthy debut is a good argument in favor of alternative programming against summer blockbusters.
For the most part, however, specialty distributors stayed away from the weekend. Two indies fared modestly: Love Etc., a documentary about one year in the life of five New York couples, made a total of $10,840 at two theaters, while darkly comic thriller The Perfect Host earned $9,388, also at two theaters. The latter starred David Hyde-Pierce, who is probably too far removed from his TV fame ("Frasier") to add much business on his own.
Adding 35 theaters in its fifth week of release, Mike Mills' Beginners maintained a healthy $6,857 per-location average; its receipts have added up to more than $2.5 million so far, marking it as a success among limited engagement releases this year. On a per-screen basis, French-language Summer ($11,954), John Turturro's Passione ($11,202), and Chris Weitz's A Better Life ($11,001) all did just fine.
I apologize for mistakenly writing (several times) that Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life would be expanding wide last weekend; it's actually this coming weekend that it will break out nationally. After six weeks of release, the film has accumulated $7.8 million, and is now playing in a total of 228 theaters. We'll see how big the national expansion will be, as well as the reaction of the general public.
Opening This Weekend
Project Nim debuted at Sundance to positive reviews, and those reviews have remained quite strong as it's made the festival rounds this spring. I saw it at the Dallas International Film Festival in April and was bowled over by its acuity of vision and emotional impact. Directed by James Marsh, who previously made the outstanding doc Man on Wire, Project Nim follows the travails of a chimpanzee named Nim who began as a research project and became a member of a human family. But that's only the beginning of the story, as the film expands to consider the havoc wrecked by well-intentioned, scientifically-minded researchers. Project Nim opens in New York and Chicago on Friday before expanding in the weeks to come.
The Ledge also debuted at Sundance, but to generally negative reviews. Nonetheless, the suspense thriller is getting its chance with the general public, at least those who want to check it out for themselves in theaters. The film became available via On Demand systems on May 25. Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard star, names that might convince people to take a chance. Christian believer Wilson faces off with atheist Charlie Hunnam, forcing him onto the ledge of a tall building, where he has one hour to make a life-changing decision.
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is the third opener that premiered at Sundance. Like Project Nim, it's also a documentary, and it also attempts to cover the life of a living entity. In this case, it's the pioneering hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, who reunited in 2008 after a ten-year absence from the music scene. Actor turned filmmaker Michael Rapaport joined them on tour, and the documentary provides behind-the-scenes tour footage, and a vast array of interviews with group members and a who's who's of musicians. The film opens at three theaters in New York and one in Hollywood, courtesy of Sony Classics; check the official site for theaters and future playmates.
Trailer of the Week
Another film opening this week is Chillar Party, a children's film from India that revolves around "a gang of innocent but feisty" children, with names like Encyclopedia and Shaolin. They lead a "carefree and fun-filled life" until the life of one of the kids is threatened by "a mean politician." Of course, they fight back in their own inimitable way.
The trailer, which we've embedded below, doesn't have English subtitles, but it does feature a very different sense of humor than you'd find in the average Hollywood project aimed at children, and we think it's worth a look.