New Distribution Deals
The Family Tree has been acquired by Entertainment One, which will open the comedy in New York and Los Angeles on August 26. Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney star as the parents of a dysfunctional family in the suburban town of Serenity, Ohio, where life "is never quite as serene as it appears," in the words of the film's official description. The supporting cast includes Chi McBride, Rachael Leigh Cook, Keith Carradine, Gabrielle Anwar, Selma Blair, and the divine Christina Hendricks (Mad Men).
Madonna's new film, W.E., will be heading to theaters courtesy of The Weinstein Company. Abbie Cornish stars in a film that "spans six decades," according to a report by indieWIRE, "juxtaposing a contemporary love story with that of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson." No release date has been announced, but indieWIRE adds that W.E. is "rumored to be heading to the Venice Film Festival at the end of the summer."
As long as we're talking about film festivals, indieWIRE also has a great roundup of Cannes competition titles that have been acquired for distribution.
Indie Box Office
You want 3D? Werner Herzog does 3D like no one else in Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and audiences have been responding, to the tune of $3.7 million, making it the highest-grossing "independently-released" documentary of the year, according to the Los Angeles Times. The designation "independently-released" is intended to distinguish the film from bigger grossing docs from major studios, i.e. Never Say Never, featuring Justin Bieber, and African Cats, featuring animals in the wild.
Both Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life continued their impressive runs. Now in its fourth week of release, Midnight in Paris expanded wide and made $6,177 per theater in 944 locations, per Box Office Mojo. The Tree of Life is rolling out slowly but surely, more than doubling its locations to 47 while earning an average of $17,596. Its wide release will come on the 4th of July weekend.
The surprise, perhaps, is that Mike Mills' Beginners may break out of the indie pack into the mainstream. A bittersweet picture, Beginners stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer as father and son; the latter learns the former is gay and dying. It seems to be a love it or hate it proposition, but the positive reviews are outweighing the negatives -- see Movie Review Intelligence for a sample -- and good word of mouth may be pushing things along; I'd had several friends volunteer that they saw and loved the movie. In its second week of release, it expanded into 19 theaters in selected cities and took in an average of $12,793 per location.
Among debuting titles, Michael Winterbottom's The Trip, an amusing road picture with Steve Coogan, scored $12,984 at six theaters, while foreign-language monster movie Trollhunters ($5,585) and Eric Rohmer's Le Rayon Vert (AKA Summer) ($4,597) had respectable returns in single engagements. The latter is an appropriately-timed special engagement at BAM in Brooklyn.
Upcoming This Weekend
The Art of Getting By, a coming-of-age story that premiered at Sundance under its original title, Homework, will get the lion's share of attention. Freddie Highmore stars as a bored prep school senior who never does his homework. He falls into a friendship with fellow senior Emma Roberts, and the two cut class, traipse around Manhattan, and sit around their upper-middle class apartment homes, and occasionally stare dreamily into each other's eyes. Focus Features will open the film in more than 500 theaters.
Three limited releases are also opening, but it's an unfair battle. Andrew Rossi's Page One: Inside the New York Times, has already received an outsized portion of media attention, simply because of its subject matter. (Yes, media reporter David Carr is a rock star.) To be fair, it's a completely engrossing experience for media junkies, though I'm not sure how much interest the general public will have.
Not to be confused with Uncle Buck, Chuck & Buck, The Great Buck Howard, Buck Privates, or even Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the simply titled Buck is a documentary by Cindy Meehl about so-called "horse whisperer" Buck Brannaman. He was an animal consultant to Robert Redford's film, not so coincidentally called The Horse Whisperer, and he "travels the country, teaching horse owners how to train their animals without whips, stress positions and other brutal if traditional tactics he terms medieval,'" according to Ray Greene in his review for Box Office Magazine. "Its emphasis on spectacular landscapes populated by barns, corrals and rolling grass, and on values like family and community, holds a mirror up to lives rarely chronicled with such sympathy in American nonfiction film." Buck opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday before expanding wider the following week; check the official Facebook page for theater listings and more information.
Trailer of the Week
The third film opening in limited release (New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto) on Friday is titled Jig, and it's all about Irish dancing. Before you go running in the opposite direction, with nightmares of Michael Flatley tap dancing across a stage in Riverdance, be advised that the documentary is skillfully made and absorbing, even if you have no interest in Irish dancing. So if you end up getting dragged into a theater by a friend who is totally into the phenomenon, it will not be a painful experience (we think).
Director Sue Bourne wisely keeps the focus on amateur dancers who will be competing in the 40th annual world championship, held in Glasgow, Scotland. Take a look at the trailer, which we've embedded below, and then head on over to the official site for more information.