By Gregg Goldstein gcgoldstein@yahoo.com

Sundance Sales Chart Day Four

by Gregg Goldstein

Film Section Sales
Co
Odds Pros Cons First
Screening
Today’s Top Five
I Love You Phillip Morris Prem CAA/
End
2:1 A Carrey/McGregor prison romance from writers of “Bad Santa” First-time helmers tackle subject matter that could go very wrong in the wrong hands. 1/18, 9:30p, Eccles
Push: Based on the
novel by Sapphire
DrComp Cin 2:1 Standing O for audacious portrait of abused girl; vivid performances by Mo’Nique and wacky supporting cast (Mariah Carey, Sherry Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz) How much of the rapturous response is the Sundance effect? And how do you sell it? Upcoming out-of-town buyer screenings may answer those questions 1/16, 8p, Racquet Club
Spread Prem CAA/
End
2:1 Gigolo satire from sexpert helmer of “Young Adam”; played well at tonight’s premiere Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche don’t scream “smart comedy” to prospective moviegoers 1/17, 9:15p, Eccles
Humpday DrComp Sub 2:1 Straight best buds link for gay porn; those who loved it really have a hard-on for it; one distributor in talks, could sell by end of weekend No stars, a premise not for the squeamish, and failed to turn a few on 1/16, 12:15p, Eccles
The Greatest DrComp End/
CAA
3:1 Tearjerker with Brosnan and Sarandon called “as fine a debut as we can present”; packed an emotional wallop for many Son dies in car accident: not a great sales pitch 1/17, 3:15p, Eccles
Other Narratives In Play
An Education World DrComp CAA 4:1 ’60s coming-of-age romance from scribe Nick Hornby with Sarsgaard, Molina, Thompson and a breakout Mulligan Subject matter too familiar and trite if not done right 1/18, 3p, Egyptian
Arlen Faber Dr Comp CAA/
ICM
4:1 Daniels, Graham, Pucci in romantic tale of reclusive author Might be too navel-gazing or quirky for its own good 1/18, 5:15p, Racquet Club
In The Loop Premieres Prot 4:1 James Gandolfini in satire of war and politics could be a sleeper hit; word-of-mouth building from pre-fest screening Small, filled with unknown Brits and distinctly British humour 1/19, 11:15a, Yarrow
Motherhood Premieres End 4:1 Harried-mom comedy with Thurman, Edwards, Driver Urban anxiety can make for anxious audiences 1/21, 9:30p, Eccles
The September Issue Doc Comp CAA 4:1 Rare inside look at the alleged inspiration for “The Devil Wear’s Prada,” Vogue’s Anna Wintour; great early buzz from SLC screening Sellers still have to convince buyers it’s as theatrical as its subject and that there’s enough Devil with the Prada; no immediate nibbles 1/16, 6:30p, Rose Wagner
The Winning Season Premieres Cin 4:1 Female “Bad News Bears” centering on high school basketball team, Emma Roberts, late add like top-seller “Hamlet 2″ Sam Rockwell films sell big at Sundance, but haven’t performed. James Strouse a Sundance fave … but not for comedy 1/19, 8:30p, Library
World’s Greatest Dad Spectrum CAA/
Cin
4:1 Robin Williams in another dark comedy from “Sleeping Dogs Lie” writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait Williams sometimes a selling point, sometimes a liability 1/18, 5:30p, Library
Amreeka Dr Comp WM 5:1 Sometimes humorous, very topical struggle of Palestinian mom on West Bank; some positive reviews No stars, Iraq war backdrop, and some not as enthusiastic; will need more critical response 1/17, 12:15p, Eccles
Big Fan DrComp Andr
Hur
5:1 Good buzz on sports fanatic spoof directed by “The Wrestler” scribe … … who also wrote “The Onion Movie.” Star Patton Oswalt an unproven commodity 1/18, 8p, Racquet Club
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Dr Comp CAA 5:1 Hot star John Krasinski directing, starring and adapting from David Foster Wallace novel Adaptations are tricky, and not every sitcom star is Zach Braff. Slot after heated sales lineup weekend 1/19, 3:15p. Eccles
Endgame Prem End 5:1 Good cast (Hurt, Ejiofor) in South African apartheid thriller CNN currently chock full of other real-life political thrillers 1/18, 6:16p, Eccles
Five Minutes of Heaven World DrComp UTA 5:1 Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and director of “Downfall” Violence in Northern Ireland. Good times. 1/19, 6:30p, Egyptian
Paper Heart DrComp UTA 5:1 Two words: Michael Cera. Sale of flawed all-star “Brooklyn’s Finest” bodes well; some in audience responded well … … some, not so much. Response at premiere didn’t improve muted reaction to screener much 1/17, 8p, Racquet Club
Peter & Vandy DrComp End 5:1 Some good buzz behind Manhattan romance with Sundance “Teeth” award-winner Weixler Stage adaptations risk being stagey; Star Ritter must live down last year’s “Good Dick” 1/19, 8p, Racquet Club
Shrink Premieres WM 5:1 “In Treatment” has proven the appeal of therapy dramas Spacey’s star power has shrunk; Hollywood inside baseball? 1/18, 11:15a, Yarrow
Cold Souls DrComp Cin 6:1 Giamatti, Strathairn, Watson, Ambrose in a unique “metaphysical tragi-comedy”; Canadian rights acquired by E1 Films Canada Chilly response from some south of the border 1/17, 5:15p, Racquet Club
Dare DrComp xCin 6:1 Sex-charged teen romance featuring Emmy Rossum Supporting cast (Gasteyer, Cumming, Bernhard) from many an indie stinker 1/19, 5:15p, Racquet Club
The Killing Room Mid CAA 7:1 Psychological thriller with compelling premise and solid indie cast slayed some audience members … … while others feel it’s a pretentious “Saw”; could middling response kill its chances? 1/16, 11:30a, Prospector
The Messenger Premieres UTA 7:1 Talented scribe Oren Moverman’s directing debut Another Iraq war drama; Ben Foster, Harrelson have spotty track records 1/19, 9:30p, Eccles
Black Dynamite Mid End 8:1 Blaxploitation satire with potential for cult following Too culty for its own good? 1/18, 11:30p, Library
Helen Spectrum Little 10:1 Ashley Judd sinks her teeth into bipolar role, and can sell some ancillary Seems to be depressing buyers, and audience response is tepid 1/16, 8:45, Library
Manure Premieres v 10:1 Thornton, Leoni, McLachlan in what could be the Polish Bros’ Coen Bros moment with a ’60s period comedy Polish Bros artiness sometimes overwhelms all else 1/20, 9:30p, Eccles
Mary & Max Opening Night Icon 10:1 Quirky Aussie claymation from Oscar-winning director good enough to attract Hoffman and Collette Too quirky for many at the opening night screening, garnering mixed reactions 1/15, 6p, Eccles
Mystery Team Midnight Sub 10:1 Potential sleeper with foul-mouthed teens; could hit right chord … …or extremely wrong one. Online trailer looks iffy; no-name cast; Sunday brunch chatter will reveal fate 1/17, 11:30p, Library
Toe To Toe DrComp WM 10:1 Complicated relationship between two female high school teammates; interracial issues a hot topic, Early buzz not looking good, but many have yet to weigh in 1/16, 3:15p, Eccles
The Vicious Kind Spectrum ICM 10:1 Tough portrait of emotionally damaged father See “Pros”; more need to see for verdict 1/17, 8:30p, Library
Don’t Let Me Drown DrComp Loeb
Loeb
20:1 Latino high schoolers in post-9/11 romantic drama No stars, depressing premise 1/18, 12:15p, Eccles
Other Documentaries In Play
The Carter Midnight Cin 4:1 One of the hottest selling rappers in a hurting music biz, Lil’ Wayne; if buyers wake up rapping, could get a platinum deal Will the audience for this film go to the theater or wait for DVD? 1/17, Midnight Eccles
Good Hair Doc Comp ICM 5:1 If every black hair magazine reader buys a ticket to producer/star Chris Rock’s comic, celeb-filled take on the topic, it’s a hit. Interest in niche topic could be hair today, gone tomorrow 1/18, 9p, Temple
Passing Strange Spectrum: Docu Spotlight End 5:1 Spike Lee filmed this unconventional, Tony-nominated musical, and both names will help sell the project: some good initial word growing Still has to show its theatrical pull 1/16, 2:30p, Library
Art & Copy Doc Comp Sub 6:1 Ad industry study getting good word of mouth; could it be this year’s “Helvetica?” Amidst interest, some are questioning commercial appeal 1/16, 5:30p, Prospector
Reporter Doc Comp Films
Trans
6:1 A New York Times reporter’s valiant attempt to put an African crisis on the map speaks volumes about the state of journalism today Most political docs have had a tough boxoffice ride 1/16, 9:30p, Temple
We Live In Public Doc Comp Sub/
Cin
6:1 Stranger than fiction dot-com boom art experiment from Web entrepreneur Must rise above Discovery Channel audience interest to sell 1/19, 6p, Temple
When You’re Strange Doc Comp Sub/
Cin
6:1 Indie vet Tom DiCillo unveils all-original footage of The Doors Video sales assured, but will it break on through to theatrical? Some industry office screener feedback less than stellar 1/17, 9p, Temple
The Cove Doc Comp Sub/
WM
8:1 Fascination with dolphins may propel sale of this dark tale Animal Planet shows wade in similar waters 1/18, 3p, Temple
No Impact Man Spectrum: Docu Spotlight Cin 8:1 Family undertakes controversial experiment to live a year with no carbon footprint; could tap “An Inconvenient Truth” audience Another inconvenient truth: many socially conscious docs have no theatrical impact 1/16, 11:30a, Library
Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy Spectrum WM 8:1 Robert Townsend interviews a Who’s Who of top comedians. The next Kings of Comedy? DVD co. is a producer, so no pressure for theatrical sale 1/17, 5:30p, Prospector
Big River Man World Doc Comp Salt 20:1 Slovenian man’s attempt at record swim could be Michael Phelps meets “Grizzly Man” No waves just yet. 1/16, 3:15p, HV4

FILMS SOLD SO FAR …

Film Buyer Sales
Co
Section Pros Cons First
Screening
Brooklyn’s Finest Senator Ent
& Sony Pictures
WM/
CAA
Prem Gere, Cheadle, Hawke, Snipes, Barkin in cop drama from “Training Day” director. Film went out with a bang audiences hated, but director is cutting. Not the feel-good film of the year. Audience liked sections of it, hated others, but helmer has until fall to tweak. 1/16, 6:15p. Eccles

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas