Open Road Sets Cinematic Citizen for 2016 Bow

Open Road Films removed Oliver Stone’s Snowden from its Dec. 25 slot. The biopic, led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as (who else?) controversial NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has yet to find a new release date.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Concussion with Will Smith Nad Gugu Mbatha-Raw!) and Joy with Jennifer Lawrence are currently slated to hit theaters nationwide on Dec. 25, as are (God help us) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and the Point Break remake; The Hateful Eight and The Revenant arrive at select locations.

Maybe Open Road bumped Snowden to avoid the holiday glut of new releases; the distrib may be gearing to push Thomas McCarthy’s Spotlight this season. With raves out of Telluride and Venice and a spot at Toronto, the drama may land nods for McCarthy and Josh Singer’s original script, performances from Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton, and maybe even the top prize. Spotlight hits select locations on Nov. 6.

With Snowden out of the running, Gordon-Levitt’s only (sort-of) Oscar hopeful now is Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, which centers on French high-wire artist Philippe Petit – subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (2008) – whose crossing of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974 was deemed “the artistic crime of the century.”

Despite Gordon-Levitt’s shaky accent in the trailers, the Sony release will kick off the New York Film Festival later this month. Then again, that probably has more to do with Zemeckis’ NYFF pull than The Walk as a film, so maybe I shouldn’t have too much faith in this one, which hits IMAX locations on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and nationwide on Friday, Oct. 9.


IMAX Returns to Fury Road

tomhardy_furyroadHow can you resist that pout, those eyes… wait, what were we talking about? (Photo via Vox)

I just noted that the International Federation of Film Critics opted to honor George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road with this year’s Grand Prix. While this decision emphasizes critics’ passionate support for the film, I speculated that Warner Bros. might need to give a genre film like this some kind of rerelease if the distributor has Oscar hopes for the actioner beyond crafts categories like visual effects and cinematography.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, Fury Road will hit IMAX locations in 3D again next weekend (Sept. 11). The film hit U.S. theaters the following day, and has amassed a worldwide total of $374,136,441 – including a domestic cume of $153,036,441 – to date. This is more financial than anything else, obviously, but it’s difficult to separate this from the film’s Grand Prix win. Scott Mendelson of Forbes points out that the film hardly got a fair shake with IMAX screens:

Walt Disney […] had the screens booked for Avengers: Age of Ultron and then on Memorial Day weekend for Tomorrowland. It was possible to find showings of Max Max: Fury Road at certain IMAX theaters and during certain not-so-optimal showtimes, especially after Tomorrowland underperformed. But it never really got its proverbial moment in the IMAX sun between its release on May 15th and the all-consuming force of Jurassic World on June 12th.

Wolf Totem (Sony/Columbia) – China’s foreign-language submission – gets a limited IMAX release the same weekend, thus compromising Fury Road’s second IMAX engagement. Baltasar Kormákur’s Venice opener Everest (Universal) will take over IMAX locations the following weekend – and also hit premium large-format auditoriums – before going nationwide on Sept. 25.

A Bigger Splash Dives Into 2016

abiggersplash_pic edited

Fox Searchlight has scheduled Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash for release on May 13, 2016. Slated for a Venice bow in just a few days and a BFI London Film Festival screening next month, the thriller looked like a potential Oscar contender for Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthias Schoenaerts, and, most notably, Tilda Swinton.

This news is a letdown for those of us eager to see Swinton as a rock legend and Johnson in, well, something that’s not Fifty Shades of Grey. The Oscar-winning Swinton featured in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, which may score awards attention for star and writer Amy Schumer, earlier this year. Johnson features in Scott Cooper’s Black Mass; while Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger may land accolades, maybe there’s room for Johnson to shine, too.

Searchlight still boasts contenders in John Crowley’s Brooklyn and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, both of which have already hit major festivals and will play Toronto later this month.

Open Road Films Rereleasing Dope on Friday


NOTE: This post has been updated to state the reason why Dope was seen as a box-office disappointment upon its initial release.

Open Road Films will rerelease Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope in theaters across the United States on Friday.
The acclaimed Sundance comedy has made $16.76 million on a $700,000 budget, but has been considered a box-office disappointment, given the $7 million acquisition and (at least) $20 million promotion.

Anyway, Shadow and Act wonders if Open Road believes the film can land some awards love this Oscar season. If nothing else, Dope should land a spot on the National Board of Review’s (NBR) list of top 10 independent films and maybe some Indie Spirit nods.

Sundance Winner James White Gets Oscar Campaign

jameswhite_picCynthia Nixon and Christopher Abbott in Josh Mond’s James White (via The Huffington Post)

The Film Arcade has set drama James White for a limited release on Nov. 13 – the same day documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words hits select locations.

The distributor plans to focus their awards campaign on Abbott and Nixon’s performances as the title character and his mother, respectively; first-time director Josh Mond, who produced Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), may pick up some directorial-debut honors on the circuit. Deadline Hollywood relays the following from TFA’s Andy Bohn:

“What people have really responded to when seeing this film, whether audiences or critics, is that the performances from Christopher and Cynthia are just astonishing. Both of them give the performances of their career.”


Miles Ahead May Be Miles Away


When Sony Pictures Classics picked up Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, two thoughts entered the minds of us who pay way too much attention to this stuff: 1) Maybe SPC isn’t so confident in I Saw the Light, after all, and 2) Get that Oscar, Cheadle!

But maybe we rushed into that kind of thinking, as the distributor has indirectly announced a 2016 release for the Miles Davis biopic. SPC told Gold Derby to keep the film off its predictions options, apparently.

Of course, SPC may change its mind – as it just recently did with Maggie Smith vehicle The Lady in the Van – and opt to give Miles, if nothing else, a qualifying release.

Best Actress Chatter: Silverman and Smith

Every year is a weak year for the best-actress race – according to some, at least. But a few recent updates – including news on this year’s first Oscar screener – keep the conversation hot, especially considering that we’re not chatting top-tier candidates like Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Lawrence at the moment.

sarahsilverman_ismilebackSarah Silverman in I Smile Back (via IndieWire)

Oscar nominee Sarah Silverman? The comedian-actress will receive the Mill Valley Film Festival’s Spotlight Award, and will participate in an on-stage conversation about her work in I Smile Back, along with a screening of the addiction drama. MVFF runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 18.

Keep in mind, Smile also played Sundance earlier this year, and will play Toronto next month. Additionally, several recent Spotlight Award winners have gone on to Oscar bids in recent years; bold indicates actors nominated in the years that they won:

  • 2014: Elle Fanning (Low Down), Eddie Redmayne (won best actor for The Theory of Everything)
  • 2013: Jared Leto (won best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club)
  • 2012: Billy Bob Thornton (Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which he also directed and wrote)
  • 2011: Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marelene), Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
  • 2010: James Franco (nominated for best actor for 127 Hours)

Distributor Broad Green Pictures seems to have high hopes for Smile, and will give the film a limited release on Oct. 23 – the same day Suffragette hits select locations.


The Lady in the Van back on the road? It looks like the Maggie Smith-led dramedy is back on the schedule for a limited bow on Dec. 11 – the same day for which it was once scheduled.

The film premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and given its apparent December debut, I suppose Van may be an awards vehicle for Smith, who plays a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years, after all. The two-time Oscar winner originated the role in the Olivier Award-nominated West End play in 1999.

I earlier speculated that distributor Sony Pictures Classics put the brakes on Van to make room for other best-actress contenders, such as Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Bel Powley, Paul Weitz’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, and James Vanderbilt’s Truth with Cate Blanchett. All three may still get campaigns – for best actress, at least – but the apparent return of Van makes me wonder how confident SPC is in them.