Indie Insights is a new column that will explore all aspects of the independent film world, everything from low-budget labors of love to commercially-minded genre pictures to personal visions made within the studio system.
Cannes Market Deals: Our own David Ehrlich identified 10 Cannes Festival Films You'll Be Talking About Later This Year, all titles drawn from the festival's official competition and likely to live or die based on reception by the critics. Those films also screen at the concurrently-running Cannes Market, a giant trade show for the movie industry, which features hundreds of titles that are (mostly) targeted at broader demographics.
There distribution deals are struck for as many countries as possible, ensuring that audiences all over the world will be able to see movies like Pompeii, a $100 million 3D romantic adventure revolving around a natural disaster, to be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, The Three Musketeers), and Tarzan 3D, an animated feature. Both will be distributed in the US by Summit.
Of greater interest to art house aficionados, The Monk, a gothic thriller starring Vincent Cassell and directed by Dominik Moll (With a Friend Like Harry), has been acquired by ATO Pictures, which plans to showcase it during the fall festival season. American Translation, directed by Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr, has been picked up by TLA Releasing; from the French-language website, it looks to be a sexy romance with darker dramatic turns. And competition title The Conquest sold to Music Box Films, which plans an "ambitious release," according to Screen Daily; the film examines French president Nicolas Sarkozy's rise to power.
Box Office, Last Weekend and Next: Back home in the U.S., last weekend's openers failed to set the house on fire. Everything Must Go, a quirky drama starring a dreary Will Ferrell, averaged only $3,784 per theater, according to indieWIRE, which pointed out that Ferrell's previous attempt at a straight role, Stranger Than Fiction, did marginally better. (But then that one featured Queen Latifah.) Hesher, promising Joseph Gordon-Levitt in underwear and Natalie Portman in glasses, did about the same business: $3,019 per theater.
Two other new releases fared better in limited release: L'Amour Fou, a documentary on Yves St. Laurent ($18,000 per theater, on two screens in New York) and The First Grader, a feature based on true life events ($7,523 per theaters, on seven screens).
Meanwhile, The Beaver continued to flop, even as it expanded from 22 to 105 screens. The film is actually quite a strong drama with a very good performance by Mel Gibson, but the combination of subject matter (a depressed man begins speaking through a hand-puppet) and the star's off-screen controversies kept people away from Jodie Foster's third directorial effort. Distributor Summit is evidently still planning to expand the distribution this weekend, but they're probably throwing money away at this point.
Coming up this weekend, Woody Allen's well-received Midnight in Paris will open on six screens, while A Beautiful Life, directed by Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs), will open across the U.S. in limited release, via distributor China Lion Entertainment, at the same time it opens in its native Hong Kong. The latter film is a romantic drama starring Shu Qi (The Transporter, Legend of the Fist) and Liu Ye (Curse of the Golden Flower, City of Life and Death), with Anthony Wong in a supporting role.
Hot Trailer of the Week: The aforementioned American Translation is heading to U.S. theaters, so here's a look at its trailer, which speaks the international language of NSFW love.