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.


Soundtrack Scene: Miss You Already

Diane Warren could very well win her first Oscar this year for “Till It Happens to You,” which she wrote alongside Lady Gaga for Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground. But will the seven-time Academy Award nominee enjoy her first year of multiple nominations – and join the likes of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Elton John and Tim Rice, Henry Kreiger, and A.R. Rahman?

Warren contributes two new tracks to Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss You Already: “The Crazy Ones” by Paloma Faith and “What We Leave Behind” by Labrinth. The dramedy stars Drew Barrymore and Academy Award nominee Toni Collette as best friends in different, life-changing situations – pregnancy and cancer, respectively.

Looking at the song titles and the fact that Warren wrote them, we’re expecting, for lack of more professional language, a heavy dose of the feels. With these songs, Miss You Already may be more of a tearjerker than we’d expected.

Miss You Already makes its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will give the film a limited stateside bow on Nov. 6.

Soundtrack Scene: Sam Smith Confirms Spectre Theme

spectre_samsmith-confirmationThe Grammy Award-winning crooner confirmed his involvement with Sam Mendes’ Spectre in a Facebook post. He co-wrote the new song, titled “Writing’s on the Wall,” with Jimmy Napes. Alongside William Phillips, both artists won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for “Stay with Me” earlier this year.

Smith was confirmed earlier this year… sort of. Shortly after the supposed confirmation, he denied involvement with the upcoming James Bond flick. Artists previously rumored for the gig include Radiohead, Lorde, and Ellie Goulding – Smith himself tried to throw us off his trail by discussing the lattermost artist’s potential involvement.

Smith’s smooth, soulful vocals should be a good fit for the Bond franchise. Adele, alongside Paul Epworth, won the original-song Oscar for Skyfall’s eponymous song in 2012. With Smith follow in her footsteps?

“Writing’s on the Wall” is available to pre-order CD and vinyl, and should soon be available to pre-order on iTunes. In other words, we should hear it soon!

eOne on The Program

eOne has acquired the North American rights to Stephen Frears’ The Program before it premiers at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13. Ben Foster steps into the role of Lance Armstrong in this drama about the road-racing cyclist who won the Tour de France seven years in a row.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that eOne has yet to confirm whether the film will hit U.S. theaters in time for awards season, but the distrib has nothing else on its upcoming slate, according to Box Office Mojo, so an Oscar-qualifying release may be in the cards.

Frankly, the distributor’s acquisition of The Program inspires little confidence. But underestimate Frears at your own risk, especially when he’s helming a biopic. Screenwriter John Hodge may return to the fold for the first time since his 1996 adapted-screenplay bid for Trainspotting. Additionally, Foster’s flirted with awards season with both 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and The Messenger (2009); could he finally break through?

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.

Mad Max: Fury Road Takes FIPRESCI’s Grand Prix

charlizetheron_furyroadDon’t mind me – just steamrolling through awards season (photo via Tech Times)

So, a funny thing happened recently: George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road won the International Federation of Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) Grand Prix over obvious critic bait like The Assassin, Son of Saul, and Taxi.

Despite the rave reviews and audience love that showered the film upon its Cannes premiere, the fact that Fury Road – an action-franchise installment/revival – won this prestigious critical prize is kind of a big deal. For further evidence of that, check out the previous Grand Prix winners after the jump. (more…)

Mill Valley to Honor Brie Larson


The Mill Valley Film Festival will honor Brie Larson with its Spotlight Award. Awards Watch notes that the fest will also host the California premiere of Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, which Larson leads. She joins Sarah Silverman, who leads Adam Salky’s Broad Green Pictures-distributed drama I Smile Back, as a Spotlight winner.

Larson, perhaps best known to moviegoers for 21 Jump Street (2012) and this year’s Trainwreck, landed Indie Spirit and Online Film Critics Society nominations for her leading turn in Short Term 12 (2013). She may hit the circuit for Room, as several recent Spotlight Award winners have gone on to Oscar bids in recent years. Bold indicates actors nominated in the years that they won this honor, while gold indicates winners:

  • 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)

Room, distributed by A24, hits select locations in the United States on Oct. 16 – the same day Sony Pictures Classics begins its rollout of James Vanderbilt’s Truth.

The Mill Valley Film Festival runs from Oct. 8 to Oct 18, 2015.