August Is For Catching Up As Arthouses Await Livelier Fall – Specialty Preview

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“People are catching up on films,” is how one arthouse executive described the current moment in specialty, which echoes the slowdown in studio wide releases.

August can be slow ahead of a trio of festivals – Venice, Toronto, New York – and a ramp up to awards season. It can also offer an less obstructed runway for specialty films to cross over (Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma). This summer has been slow, but strong word of mouth has boosted select films. Warner Bros.’ Elvis for one, is at $143 million, pushing five times what it made opening weekend. Focus Features’ Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris opened at $2 million but will cross $10 million. RRR is a phenomenon, passing $11M. Greg Laemmle said he’s bringing the blockbuster from India back on August 26. Laemmle is also holding an event screening for Neon documentary Fire Of Love next Wed. and hopes that will keep other runs going.

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“We are waiting for a strong fall lineup,” he said, noting Triangle Of Sadness, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Silent Twins, Tár, and The Son among others. “And we’ve got Searchlight Pictures back.” The Disney-owned distributor’s first theatrical film in months, See How They Run, comes out in Sept., Banshees in Oct.)

The broader box office awaits Black Adam, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way Of Water. But it’s one ecosystem. “I am a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ kind of guy. When there are big movies out there, people are talking about movies and going to movies. And when people aren’t, the conversation can shift, and people will continue to beat the drum about the death of exhibition,” Laemmle said.

Specialty openings:

IFC Films presents Jeff Baena’s Spin Me Round in about 20 markets. Written by Baena, Alison Brie. Starring Brie Alessandro Nivola, Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, Zach Woods, Ayden Mayeri, Ben Sinclair, Tim Heidecker, Debby Ryan, Fred Armisen, Lil Rey Howery. Plaza’s Emily The Criminal from Roadside Attractions opened last week.

Brie is the manager of an Italian restaurant chain who wins a chance to attend the franchise’s educational immersion program in Italy. What she thought would be a romantic getaway devolves into chaos and catastrophe. Deadline’s SXSW review here.

National Geographic Documentary Films presents The Territory, the first feature by Alex Pritz, produced by Darren Aronofsky and Sigrid Dyekjaer. Opens at the Film Forum in NYC and Laemmle in LA with a national rollout to followPremiered at Sundance, winning the Special Jury Award for Documentary Craft and World Cinema Documentary Audience Award. It follows the fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people in Brazil – less than 190 of them – against land-grabbing incursions of non-native farmers causing major deforestation. Co-produced by the Uru-eu-wau-wau community. Gripping verite-style footage shot by the community, who set up a media team to expose what happening on the ground. Deadline story here.

Super Ltd presents Three Minutes – A Lengthening. Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, Directed by Bianca Stigter and executive produced by Steve McQueen. A discovery of three minutes of footage from a Jewish community in Poland in 1938. Opens in NYC at the Quad Cinema. Premiered at the Giornate degli Autori in Venice last year, official selection at Toronto, Telluride and at Sundance 2022. See Deadline’s Sundance Studio here. The footage, shot by David Kurtz in 1938, are the only moving images remaining of the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk, Poland before the Holocaust. The film explores the human stories hidden within the celluloid. Expanding next week.

Vertical Entertainment presents writer-director Robert Budreau’s dramatic thriller Delia’s Gone on 214 screens. Louis (Stephan James), who has a mental disability lives with his older sister Delia (Genelle Williams), who struggles with addiction following their father’s death. After a night of drinking, her truck is found abandoned at a bar, drawing suspicion from the local sheriff (Marisa Tomei) who soon discovers she’s been killed. Evidence points to Louis who, pressured by police, pleads guilty and is sentenced to five years in prison for his sister’s murder. Confined to a home care facility, he’s visited by Stacker (Travis Fimmel), one of the men to last see Delia alive. It seems there’s more to her death than meets the eye.

Screen Media opens The Immaculate Room on ten screens. Starring Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth, Ashley Greene and M. Emmet Walsh, Written and directed by Mukunda Michael Dewil. Follows a seemingly perfect couple who take part in a psychological experiment that will reward them $5 million if they can stay in a perfectly white room for 50 days. But the room is much more than it seems.

Good Deed Entertainment and Cranked Up Films Present Latvian fairy tale Squeal in NYC (Alamo Manhattan) and LA (Laemmle Music Hall). Filmmaker Aik Karapetian’s dark comedy played at Fantastic Fest. Samuel (Kevin Janssens) is far from home searching for his father in remote Eastern Europe on the edges of a mythical forest. A minor road accident leads to an unfortunate chance meeting with a pig-farmer’s daughter Kirke (Laura Siliņa).

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