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April 14, 2019

Check Out the ‘Invisible’ Special Effects of ‘Roma’

Roma” isn’t considered an FX showcase, with much of the acclaim for Alfonso Cuarón’s intimate period piece focusing on the black-and-white cinematography for which the writer-director won an Academy Award. But there’s more to those ostensibly low-key visuals than meets the eye, VFX supervisor Aaron Weintraub revealed in a CNET interview, with everything from taxidermied dog heads to flashing signs serving as examples of “invisible effects.”

“Alfonso felt they were lacking some realism … that they didn’t feel like actual dead dogs, so we replaced and augmented them with real dog elements,” Weintraub said of one scene that was more involved than it initially appears. “To us, ‘invisible effects’ are effects where the audience never thinks for a moment that any extra work in post production was involved to achieve the shot and that everything was built practically and photographed with the camera on a traditional set.”

Toronto-based Mr. X and MPC in London are the visual-effects houses responsible for those effects, some of which are present, fittingly enough, during a scene set in a movie theater:

That behind-the-curtains look reveals a number of before-and-after shots showing just how extensive the effects are in “Roma.” Mr. X, which produced the video, also worked on “Shazam,” “The Shape of Water,” and the upcoming “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

In hindsight, it’s unsurprising that “Roma” is more effects-driven than it seems given the visual style of Cuarón’s “Gravity” and “Children of Men.” Weintraub said he would be happy to work with him again: “Like all great filmmakers, he brings out the best in his collaborators.”

Source: IndieWire film

April 14, 2019

Elisabeth Moss Boosts ‘Her Smell’ at Specialty Box Office

Plenty of new and varied titles entered the specialized market this week. But despite some decent reviews and considerable distribution support, none have generated the level of response that could lead to totals in the range of $5 million or more. This is not good for hungry arthouses.

Her Smell” (Gunpowder & Sky) boasted the best per screen average, boosted by in-theater appearances by star Elisabeth Moss and director Alex Ross Perry. “Teen Spirit” (Bleecker Street), “Wild Nights With Emily” (Greenwich) and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (Kino Lorber) also showed early potential ahead of wider release.

Opening

Her Smell (Gunpowder & Sky) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Toronto, New York 2018

$39,058 in 3 theaters; PTA: $13,019

Alex Ross Perry’s latest film, featuring a bravura Elisabeth Moss performance as an aging 90s rocker confronting multiple demons, opened in New York and Toronto. Some shows added Q&As with Perry or Moss. Another challenging personal film aimed at younger rather than conventional (older) specialized audiences, “Her Smell” could gain traction from careful marketing.

What comes next: This adds Los Angeles among multiple second-week added dates.

Teen Spirit (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Toronto 2018, South by Southwest 2019

$44,361 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $11,090

Elle Fanning leads this music-world drama of a girl who dreams of stardom. Bleecker Street got the best theater placement of any of the week’s releases, but mid-level reviews kept the gross from rising higher. This ultimately has a crossover potential, with the first dates giving some initially elevated attention.

What comes next: This jumps to 800 theaters this Friday.

“Wild Nights With Emily”

Greenwich Entertainment

Wild Nights With Emily (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Seattle 2018

$33,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $11,000

Opening a year after its South by Southwest premiere, this film starring Molly Shannon as lesbian Emily Dickinson debuted in New York and Los Angeles with a decent initial response in three theaters.

What comes next: The provocative subject will land a significant national release in at least 50 cities.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 88; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018

$27,896 in theaters; PTA: $9,299

This Chinese film, which grabbed press attention for its hour-long dream like 3D tracking shot, opened initially in Seattle and New York (two theaters provided most of the gross). With some of the best reviews of the year, it showed decent initial results at the high-end for a niche audience film.

What comes next: Los Angeles and Toronto. Broadening is a challenge for Kino Lorber –much like Godard’s “Goodbye to Language 3D”– in terms of finding arthouses capable of showing 3D.

“Sauvage / Wild”

Sauvage/Wild (Strand) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Cannes 2018, New Directors/New Films 2019

$(est.) 7,500 in 1 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 7,500 Cumulative: $(est.) 10,700

This intense look at the life of a gay hustler in France opened exclusively on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum, with an initial response above average for subtitled films in the current market.

What comes next: This will expand to major markets including Los Angeles ahead.

Mine 9 (Levey Distribution) – Festivals include: Cinequest 2019

$62,486 in 23 theaters; PTA: $2,717

An example of initially regional independent film that had to overcome obstacles to even get into theaters, but managed when it does so to show some interest. This drama about a coal mine methane leak that traps both veterans and a rookie after those both their lives and livelihoods have been threatened by safety concerns. It opened in coal country, both in West Virginia and surrounding states. It ranked as top grosser at nearly half its theaters. The work involved in making this happened in today’s market is staggering and worth recognizing even if it didn’t initially involve higher profile coastal markets

What comes next: The next stage involves more regional theaters, with its initial response setting it up for further notice.

Dogman (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto 2018

$(est.) 14,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 4,667

Italian director Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah,” “Reality”) has enjoyed previous domestic exposure. Italy’s submission for the Oscars played well at 2018 festivals and scored favorable reviews. But its initial theatrical dates show muted interest so far.

What comes next: This should get major market exposure ahead.

Girls of the Sun (Cohen) – Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2018

$8,160 in 8 theaters; PTA: $1,020

The girls in the title of this French film are female Kurdish fighters who joined together to retake territory from ISIS forces in the Mideast. After its high-end festival debut last year, it opened in multiple cities to mediocre reviews and business.

What comes next: Cohen has a track record of finding dates in top cities for films like this, so further dates should follow.

Mary Magdalene (IFC) – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Dublin 2018; also available on Video on Demand

$62,436 in 62 theaters; PTA: $1,007

Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara are the high-end actors in this Biblical biopic, which initially debuted at festivals last year. It launched at the start of Holy Week this year across the country concurrent with home viewing, with minor theatrical results.

What comes next: The Easter holiday should keep it on some screens, but its main venue will be iTunes.

"High Life"

High Life

A24/YouTube

Week Two

High Life (A24)

$204,181 in 32 theaters (+28); PTA: $6,381; Cumulative: $340,640

The second weekend expansion for Claire Denis’ acclaimed science-fiction space story starring Robert Pattinson gained far more interest than most recent releases, aided by continued strong reviews, but the film lags behind “Amazing Grace” and the performance a few weeks back of A24’s “Gloria Bell.” “High Life” is playing younger than most arthouse releases (which explains the lack of a Saturday uptick). A24 also scored with “Ex Machina,” but that film was much more accessible to general audiences. “High Life” should, apart from wider theatrical play, gain long-term interest on multiple platforms based on this initial exposure, far more than this lauded French director’s past films.

Peterloo (Amazon)

$33,939 in 32 theaters (+29); PTA: $1,061; Cumulative: $66,020

Mike Leigh has eloquently spoken about his preference for theatrical over streaming, and Amazon, though a leading streamer, is still pursuing conventional strategies for its top-end releases. After debuting at high-end fall festivals in 2018, Leigh’s recreation of a little-known early 1816 English suppression of a peaceful protest expanded in its second weekend. Results reveal the limitations of his theatrical preference, other than giving the film exposure a few months ahead of at-home access.

"Hotel Mumbai"

“Hotel Mumbai”

Bleecker Street

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Hotel Mumbai (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$868,876 in 617 theaters (-313); Cumulative: $7,977,000

Bleecker Street’s aggressive wider play for their Indian terror attack recreation has paid off with a total that should wind up close to $10 million. That will be their best result for any of their films opening in under 1,000 theaters.

Mustang (Focus) Week 5

$788,000 in 527 theaters (+177); Cumulative: $3,175,000

In a less-than-competitive period for specialized older audiences, Focus is turning this story of prisoners working with horses –featuring rising star Matthias Schoenaerts– into an increasingly successful release. It still has plenty of room to grow. Expect this to add significantly to its total so far.

Amazing Grace (Neon) Week 4

$372,288 in 58 theaters (+52); Cumulative: $612,244

Good news for the Aretha Franklin 1972 concert documentary, which rapidly expanded in its second week (after a two-week qualifying run in December) to a healthy overall response in a mixture of specialized and African-American theaters. This historic, rousing church recording session is getting a response similar to eventual 2014 Oscar-winner “20 Feet from Stardom,” another compelling behind the scenes music world documentary. The results so far are better at mainstream specialized theaters than initial forays into black communities. But with Easter coming up, these early dates could lead to an upsurge ahead.

The Aftermath (Fox Searchlight) Week 5

$160,000 in 234 theaters (-110); Cumulative: $1,430,000

Keira Knightley as a British wife relocated on government business to immediate post-war Germany has not clicked at the level of past and likely future Searchlight releases, as the division continues as an autonomous unit under the Disney banner.

Gloria Bell (A24) Week 6

$155,000 in 168 theaters (-474); Cumulative: $5,350,000

A24’s wider initial-platform releases tend to have a younger appeal (“Eighth Grade,” “Mid90s”). “Gloria Bell” has more of an older audience draw, similar to their “24 Hour Woman” early last year, and looks to end up with slightly higher box office.

"Apollo 11"

“Apollo 11”

Apollo 11 (Neon) Week 7

$120,200 in 126 theaters (-61); Cumulative: $8,300,000

The year’s top-grossing documentary so far (Neon also has in “Amazing Grace” showing early life) is in its late stages before its blazing reentry on CNN.

The Chaperone (PBS) Week 3

$66,450 in 33 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $113,482

This PBS-backed “Downton Abbey”-style creative effort, about silent film icon Louise Brooks’ companion, added new cities this week. It is showing enough interest to suggest room for more growth. 15 additional cities are added this week.

Diane (IFC) Week 3; also on Video on Demand

$83,672 in 63 theaters (+30); Cumulative: $201,057

This high-end critical favorite stars Mary Kay Place and a group of legendary veteran actresses in a story of small-town Northeastern life, and continues to get theatrical interest parallel to its home platform opportunities.

Also noted:

Transit (Music Box) – $39,745 in theaters; Cumulative: $683,627

Ash Is Purest White (Cohen) – $28,894 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $355,062

Sunset (Sony Pictures Classics) – $13,600 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $87,197

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) – $13,500 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $1,206,000

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Source: IndieWire film

April 14, 2019

‘Heart of a Dog’ Filmmaker Laurie Anderson to Debut VR Installation at Cannes

30 years after premiering her debut film “Home of the Brave” at Directors’ Fortnight, Laurie Anderson will return to the Cannes sidebar with three virtual-reality installations created with Hsin-Chien Huang. “Aloft,” “Chalkroom,” and “To The Moon,” described as “three poetically linked and complementary pieces,” will be presented from May 15 – 25 under the collective title “Go Where You Look: Falling Off Snow Mountain.”

“The sensory, poetic and technological dimensions of these three pieces are tightly intertwined and offer new forms of storytelling by amplifying our cinematic experience. It is this singular and fully authorial, approach of virtual reality, that the Directors’ Fortnight wishes to highlight, honour and share,” said Palo Moretti, who runs Directors’ Fortnight. “Laurie Anderson’s artistic path is a testament to the Directors’ Fortnight’s exploratory spirit, and to this 51st edition, aiming to be both an observatory and a laboratory of the evolution of storytelling through moving images, as well as an echo chamber for all forms of creation in this field.”

Anderson most recently made the documentary “Heart of a Dog,” which begins as a tribute to her terrier Lolabelle before gradually revealing itself as something stranger and more expansive; the kind of film that reduces animal-lovers to tears, it was among the most well-received movies of 2015. An avant-garde artist equally active in the realms of music and spoken word, she previously directed “Life on a String,” “Hidden Inside Mountains,” and “What Do You Mean We?”

The two previously worked together on “La Camera Insabbiata,” which won an award at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, as well as the interactive “Puppet Motel” in 1995. He has worked as a new-media creator integrating art and technology since the early ’90s, with interactive installations everywhere from Taipei to Los Angeles.

Cannes will make its first lineup announcement this Thursday, April 18. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” is slated to open the festival, and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” will premiere out of competition.

Source: IndieWire film

April 14, 2019

Mike Leigh Got Away with Murder with ‘Peterloo,’ But Lost Amazon a Ton of Money

After years of talking to Mike Leigh, whether at the Carlton Beach at Cannes, on a gondola at Telluride, or a plush hotel suite in Toronto, I’ve gotten used to being reminded that — in his eyes — I don’t know enough about his movies. That’s how he rolls. (Only at one rooftop post-Oscar party, with no transactional imparting of information required, did the brainy auteur and I enjoy a lovely chat about our grown children.)

Here’s what I do know: At age 76, Leigh has delivered the most ambitious, gorgeous, and expensive period recreation of his storied career, “Peterloo.” And, at $18 million, the film stood very little chance of making money for Amazon Studios. While he is deeply respected as one of the finest living auteurs with his exacting and unique creative process, his top-grossing movie was “Secrets & Lies,” back in 1996. That film, which received five Oscar nominations for October Films, made $26.4 million in today’s dollars — and it was released more than two decades ago, when independent films occupied a different place in our culture. 

Spoiled by decades of rave reviews, Leigh’s average Metascore (now an amazing 81) was actually brought down by mixed reviews for “Peterloo” (Metascore: 68), with reviews that suggest the period film about an 1816 British massacre is too long, and he should have trimmed some of the endless speeches. He’s furious at this suggestion, nor was he satisfied with three key “Peterloo” fall festival slots at Venice (where he won the Golden Lion in 2004 for “Vera Drake”), Telluride, and Toronto. He has played in Cannes competition five times, and took home the Palme d’Or (“Secrets & Lies”) and Best Director (“Naked”), but Cannes rejected “Peterloo.”

“Cannes is its own quirky thing,” he said. “It’s not a sexy red-carpet film.” But while he memorably opened the New York Film Festival with “Secrets & Lies,” he did not go to NYFF 2018. “Being rejected by Cannes is one thing,” he said. “Far worse than that, more offensive to me personally, was being rejected by the New York Film Festival. In my multiple experience, the most sophisticated, most intelligent Q&As, which I happen to like very much, are in New York.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Thin Man/Greenlight/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5878139b) Karen Cartlidge, Allan Corduner Topsy Turvy - 1999 Director: Mike Leigh Thin Man/Greenlight UK/USA Scene Still Drama Topsy-Turvy

“Topsy-Turvy”

Thin Man/Greenlight/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

After tackling biopics on famous Brits like Gilbert and Sullivan (“Topsy-Turvy”) and the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner (“Mr. Turner”), the filmmaker took on an arcane event that even he and most people he knew who grew up in the Manchester area did not know about. In 1816, British troops attacked a peaceful protest to reform voting laws, killing 15 people and injuring 400–700 more. After reading about it as an adult, “suddenly, I got the idea we should do it,” he said. “And while preparing it, it became clear daily that it was relevant.”

That’s because the movie “is about democracy,” he said at the film’s Toronto Q&A. “I want to leave you engaged with your emotions, feelings of sorrow, sympathy and anger. It was iniquitous what happened. Here is democracy in action, here are genuine hopes that come out of genuine things in people’s lives. To be dealt with in this destructive, chaotic, blind, insensitive, self-serving way by people in power — all those things remain resonant, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Peterloo”

Amazon

Audiences haven’t seen it the same way. Now in its second week of release, “Peterloo” has grossed just $66,000 domestic. Some of the reasons for that disappointing result may seem self evident, such as the lack of name actors. “There’s never any of that, never is on my films,” he said. “The minute there’s any suggestion that will be the case, we walk away. So it never arises. These actors in the Northern UK, they do everything — some TV shows, theater, film stuff, and radio acting. When making characters drawn from real people, which we began doing in ‘Topsy-Turvy’ and continued with some of characters in ‘Mr. Turner,’ we research the character, putting in flesh and bones and the breath of life to make an actual character who squares with our interpretation of what we read.”

Nor does he deal with financiers that presume any say in the final product. There’s never a script to read; working with Leigh means accepting that he and his cast make it up as they go. (Nevertheless, he’s received five screenplay nominations; “I do it after the film’s finished…. I don’t draw any distinction between the script and the film.”) With Film4, BFI and Amazon Studios behind “Peterloo,”  Leigh made the movie on his own terms. “Amazon was fantastic,” he said. “Ted Hope was supportive, he never interfered in any aspect of the production from the earliest to the end. There was absolutely no pressure of any kind.” And Amazon accepted his two-hour and 34-minute cut, which was longer than the contracted length. (Hope now reports to new Amazon chief Jennifer Salke.)

“Peterloo”

Amazon

That $18-million budget helped Leigh create a massacre sequence that took five weeks to shoot with 200 extras, pounding horses, swinging sabers, and spraying squibs. Leigh and his team, including long-time cinematographer Dick Pope and producer Georgina Lowe (“without her, I couldn’t do a film”) was as “improvisational” as his previous films.

“This was no more or less organized than any of my other productions,” said Leigh. “Despite its scale, it is as much a film about individuals as it is about community and society. Like ‘Mr. Turner’ and ‘Topsy-Turvy,’ my normal way of working applies. We are serving and interpreting and distilling actual historical events, added to created and invented scenarios. We made the family up. The inspiration for the boy who is at Waterloo and killed at Peterloo, were guys at Peterloo who were Waterloo veterans. If you actually break down the day of the massacre, the 16 of August at St. Peter’s Field, we had magistrates, people on the hustings, and other units of action on the ground. We develop the characters and rehearse and fix the scenes separately and then integrate them into the whole thing.”

As to the scale of the operation, he said, “it’s a massive collaboration with a group of intelligent and committed people pulling in the same direction. In the massacre scene, we have avoided falling into many movie cliches. It’s important that we are constantly seeing individuals doing things, even though there’s mass activity going on. We have characters played by actors, stunt people, extras. We allocated time before any sequence to go in with the extras and explain to them in clear detail how and why they were there, so they were not corralled around. They were actually motivated.”

“Peterloo”

Amazon Studios

While Leigh leans into realism, the movie did not shoot in Manchester. “They built it into a big Victorian city later in the century,” said Leigh. “It’s now a big, modern city, with streets where the area of St. Peter’s Field used to be, right in the middle of town, with a Radisson Hotel and coffee bars. We shot all over the place, in places where you can see the half-timbered and Tudor buildings they had in Manchester at that time, which have disappeared. We shot in Lincoln and Gainsborough and at the Tilbury Fort, which was built by Henry V and extended by Charles II, with a big empty parade ground with some buildings around. We built some stuff to the right size and scale, and were able to control it for some months. And we shot on the moors along the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire border.”

Nor does Leigh resist evolving with the times. “Peterloo” is his second film shot on digital, and also includes the director’s first-ever drone shot. (Prior to that, he’s used only one helicopter shot in all of his films.) He mocks “The Favourite” for only using sunlight and candles. “I don’t know how you shoot that film without being lit. I’ve got no time for that, it’s absurd! That’s like saying this is a better novel because it’s written with a quill as opposed to a word processor. I shot digitally on ‘Mr. Turner.’ It’s a great medium, which a lot of bright people took years to develop.”

Mike Leigh

Anne Thompson

Similarly, Leigh is grateful for other technological advances. In “Topsy-Turvy,” a shot of the theater orchestra pit featured a man in the foreground wearing a modern watch. “Somehow it slipped through the net and no one spotted it,” said Leigh. “It cost us $10,000 to remove it frame by frame. Now, it’s a lot easier … What you can do in post-production! There’s a massive amount of CGI in this film. Now it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, like old-fashioned opticals. CGI is all over. [In the film] St. Peter’s Fields is surrounded by factories and churches — they’re not there at Tilbury Falls, there’s sky. We didn’t have 100,000 extras, only 200. That technology, developed by people like Peter Jackson, can be deployed in the context of a film that is about making it look like it’s real.”

Finally, a full-on expensive theatrical release may not have been the best way to bring “Peterloo” to the global cinephiles who could appreciate the movie’s finer virtues. Hopefully, they will catch it when it finally reaches in-home play. Next time out, Leigh may have to offer audiences something more alluring to pull them in.

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Source: IndieWire film

April 14, 2019

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Is Polishing the Bond 25 Script — at Daniel Craig’s Request

For the second time in as many years, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is bringing her skills to one of the biggest franchises in the world. After co-starring as a hilarious android in last year’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the “Fleabag” writer, creator, and star has been tapped to help enliven the script for the as-yet untitled Bond 25. Not only that, but she’s doing so at the specific request of 007 himself, Daniel Craig.

Said film — which follows 2015’s “Spectre,” thought by many to be Craig’s final go-around as Bond, James Bond — is officially being written by Scott Z. Burns, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade, with the latter two having written several prior installments in the long-standing spy series. Danny Boyle was originally hired to direct, but was replaced last year by Cary Joji Fukunaga after the “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” helmer left due to creative differences.

As for how Waller-Bridge came to be involved, The Guardian reports that “sources close to the film in the US said that while in the country she discussed with Craig how to improve the script of Bond 25, which the 007 actor felt needed some “polishing,” by introducing more humour and the offbeat style of writing she is best known for.” That style was first introduced to the world at large on the revered “Fleabag,” the long-awaited second season of which just ended on BBC Three. She has since gone on to develop, produce, and write the equally acclaimed “Killing Eve,” whose second season premiered last weekend.

Further details regarding Bond 25 are being kept under wraps, as is customary for the series, though Rami Malek has been rumored to serve as its villain following his recent Oscar triumph for playing Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The film is set to be released next year, though an exact date has yet to be announced.

Source: IndieWire film

April 12, 2019

Max Minghella’s Directorial Debut Teen Spirit at SXSW 2019 [Video]

“Any movie that gets made is a miracle, that is just a fact. The miracle on this movie was the music.” – Max Minghella

Making its U.S. Premiere at SXSW 2019, Teen Spirit follows Violet (Elle Fanning), a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent, and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story.

“I was very excited about the idea to take a classic fairytale story and doing it in a way that felt completely different.” – Max Minghella

The film features music from numerous popular artists including Robyn, Ellie Goulding, and Major Lazer to name a few. One audience member asked about the inspiration behind the songs chosen. Minghella noted that he’s a fan of pop music and the songs felt right for Fanning’s character and this notion of the sugarcoating of the pop songs, but in reality, something much darker lies beneath. “That’s what the whole movie is striving for,” added Minghella.

Watch coverage from the red carpet and Q&A at SXSW 2019 and don’t forget to catch Teen Spirit in theaters now. Check out more videos from SXSW 2019 on our YouTube channel.

Watch Now

Dive into SXSW 2019 Photo Galleries from March 8-17 including sessions, screenings, showcases, and more. And as always, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News to stay current with all things SXSW.

U.S. Premiere of Teen Spirit – Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

The post Max Minghella’s Directorial Debut Teen Spirit at SXSW 2019 [Video] appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

April 10, 2019

Changing the Narrative with Zoe Saldana at SXSW 2019 [Video]

At SXSW 2019, actor Zoe Saldana discussed the importance of positive messaging and role models on social platforms for Millennial and Gen Z audiences. Interviewed by on-air personality and What’s Trending CEO Shira Lazar, the Featured Session explores Saldana’s new media company, BESE, and how it is addressing this issue and the imbalance that exists today in mainstream media. The pair were also joined by Daniel Batista, Co-Founder & President of BESE.

“I don’t have the power to change the world. I can’t go against a huge establishment but my singular voice has the ability to inspire people in my community.” – Zoe Saldana

BESE aims to reshape the cultural narrative by shining light on the untold stories that reflect today’s America. The platform provides a voice to Latinx youth through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as YouTube videos and podcasts. BESE fills a niche for young Latinx audiences craving positive portrayals of the modern American experience.

Representation is at the forefront of this Featured Session. Saldana and Batista want to make it perfectly clear that the Latinx community is so much more than the stereotypes they often played on the screen.

“Given how large the Latinx community is – nearly 60 million people and two-thirds of them now are born here – there is so much more to tell . . . It takes someone like Zoe to really take that initiative to create her own media company and push those stories forward.” – Daniel Batista

Saldana went on to mention the success of Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Austin’s own Robert Rodriguez. “It never pointed out Alita’s race. She is clearly not blonde, blue eyes … she is our hero, she is our AI hero. That is how we bring change.”

Diving further into BESE, Saldana stated her goal to have a journalistic presence with the company, particularly when it comes to the 2020 election. Saldana spoke of her mission “to expand the media aspect with amazing journalists that need a platform, that can amplify their conversations.”

To explore more about BESE and their mission, watch the full Featured Session and more videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch Now

Dive into SXSW 2019 Photo Galleries from March 8-17 including sessions, screenings, showcases, and more. And as always, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News to stay current with all things SXSW.

Changing the Narrative with Zoe Saldana – Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW

The post Changing the Narrative with Zoe Saldana at SXSW 2019 [Video] appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

April 10, 2019

Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti on the Evolving Landscape of Digital Media at SXSW 2019 [Video]

“I think the internet is at a real crossroads right now.” – Jonah Peretti

Onstage at SXSW 2019, Buzzfeed co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti addressed key topics in modern digital media ranging from the current misinformation crisis, the monetization of digital media, financial relationships between digital media companies and big tech, and more.

During his Featured Session, Peretti begins by acknowledging bad actors in the social media landscape and making a call to action that the industry needs to produce more “good content,” and reach larger audiences, so there isn’t room for misinformation to thrive. Peretti also addressed the slowly improving profit-sharing model of Facebook. The social media platform has increased the percentage of profits that are paid out to digital media platforms in compensation for their content which is widely shared.

Peretti indicates that the growth of this profit-sharing model will be key for digital media companies, many of which have shifted from periods of venture capital funded expansion to more traditional profit-based business models. While the conversation takes place during a watershed moment when the financial relationship between media companies and the social media platforms that benefit from their content is still in flux, Peretti strikes an optimistic tone about the future of media.

“My call to arms for everyone is spread joy and truth. It’s what the internet needs right now. It’s what the world needs. We can do it together…If we all work together, we are going to be able to build the internet that we want.”

Watch the entire Featured Session as well as more SXSW 2019 videos from Conference, Featured Speakers, and Keynotes on our YouTube channel.

Watch Now

Check out SXSW 2019 Photo Galleries from sessions, screenings, showcases, and more event highlights.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News to stay current with all things SXSW.

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Jonah Peretti – Photo by Melodi Ramirez

The post Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti on the Evolving Landscape of Digital Media at SXSW 2019 [Video] appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

April 7, 2019

Ashton Sanders Calls Out A24 for Ignoring ‘Native Son’: ‘Where’s the Love?’

Native Son” premiered on HBO last night, and it would appear that Ashton Sanders wishes A24 had promoted it more. The studio produced Rashid Johnson’s adaptation of Richard Wright’s revered novel but sold it to the premium-cable network prior to Sundance this year rather than distribute it on its own, as was originally intended. Ahead of the film’s airing last night, Sanders took to his Instagram story with two pointed posts: “@a24 where’s the native son love? Asking for a friend” and “@a24 what’s good?”

The actor previously worked with A24 on “Moonlight,” his breakthrough role, and more recently appeared in this year’s “Captive State.” Later last night, the studio posted an Instagram story of its own promoting HBO’s debut of “Native Son.”

In his Sundance review of the film, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn described it as “less than the sum of its parts, with a screenplay by Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks that injects a ponderous and often heavy-handed voiceover into a dark drama that speaks for itself, and some clunky staging that stalls the overall emotional impact over the course of Bigger’s journey. Nevertheless, while very much a first feature, ‘Native Son’ wrestles with the vision of its iconoclastic source material with an incendiary edge in tune with its outlook.”

Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, and Sanaa Lathan co-star in “Native Son,” which is now available on HBO.

Source: IndieWire film

April 7, 2019

‘Shazam’ Does Its Magic as ‘Dumbo’ Deflates — Will It Be ‘Avengers’ to the Rescue?

Shazam!” topped pre-opening estimates with a #1 showing at over $53 million. Combined with a good foreign debut, that brought the kids-oriented D.C. title to close to $160 million. In most territories, the Easter holiday should help sustain grosses, especially with a strong A Cinemascore (better than the most recent D.C. title, “Aquaman”).

Stephen King remake “Pet Sematary” took second place with $25 million, also bettering predictions, while “The Best of Enemies” fell short with a $4.5 million take.

On average, it’s a good outcome for the three opening films. However, theaters saw an overall gross 10% lower than the same weekend last year, and the year-to-date gross continues to lag. Box office to date is $2.6 billion, compared to $3.1 billion this time last year.

Of course, we’re just 19 days away from the release of “Avengers: Endgame,” which is seeing colossal advance sales and has a real shot at setting an opening-weekend record. Yes, that will help, but last year’s “Infinity War” had the best opening weekend of 2018 at $257.7 million, and grossed $678.8 million in its domestic run. For the new Avengers outing to close the gap, it would need to make about $1.2 billion in its domestic release — $242 million more than the current record holder, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“Shazam!”

Warner Bros.

On the studio side, there’s more good news from “Shazam.” Its reported budget of $90 million is about half of normal for many D.C. or Marvel films. It shows awareness of the need for universe expansion, and continues an evolution to a lighter tone. Warner Bros. smartly placed the film  between two Marvel tentpoles, claiming a heavy spring vacation week.

That’s important because the film scored quite well with younger audiences (about 25% were under 18). This will help it as the go-to title for the school holidays ahead, and builds D.C. brand loyalty for the years ahead.

“Pet Sematary”

Paramount Pictures

Paramount provided the top title a year ago with a $50 million debut of “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski’s original horror film with a similar budget (a bit under $20 million). “Pet” cost a little more, but is still a thrifty entry from a studio that needs more like these to survive as an equal to the increasingly powerful top three studios.

However, it grossed only half as well, though better than the projections. The fly in the ointment is a poor C+ Cinemascore, although a  second-day drop of 9% (better than average for a horror film) might give signs of life ahead. Easter can be a boost for this genre and this should end as a modest plus for the studio, but not the breakout they could use.

“The Best of Enemies”

On the heels of period racial reconciliation drama “Green Book” (which, with its Oscar win, will top out a little under $90 million), “The Best of Enemies” (released, not produced, by STX) was a disappointment. With Taraji P. Henson as a community leader and Sam Rockwell as a Klan leader agreeing to a summit to lessen tensions in early 1970s North Carolina, it got a terrific audience response – an A Cinemascore. That’s reflected in a small Saturday uptick, but it started from a low point and still resulted in a weak number. Again, the holiday and word-of-mouth might help. Still, there’s no reason to expect more than a fraction of the “Green Book” result.

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT - In director Tim Burton's all-new live-action adventure "Dumbo," former circus star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) are charged with caring for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. Expanding on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight, "Dumbo" flies into theaters on March 29, 2019. ©2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dumbo

Disney

The worst news of the weekend was the terrible 60% drop for Tim Burton’s “Dumbo.” Family films in general, and Disney classics in particular, genereally show strong signs of interest in their second and following weekends. This will struggle to pass $100 million domestic, which was always considered a sure bet. Worldwide isn’t that much better, with $214 million.

With its budget likely approaching $200 million, this could be a challenge to get into profit. Since the “Star Wars” series is no longer a lock to provide massive profits for Disney, weakness in another key brand is bad news. Meanwhile, its “Captain Marvel” is heading for over $400 million domestic, with a global total of $1.2 billion.

“Us” has earned $152 million to date, which means it’s headed for a bigger domestic gross than Jordan Peele’s earlier “Get Out.” It’s getting there by a different route, with a bigger start but quick drop. This weekend (its third) was substantially below the third weekend of his 2017 effort, when it made $20 million. Still, there’s still a good chunk of gross to come, making it the second straight major money maker for Peele and Blumhouse.

The Top Ten

1. Shazam! (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 71; Est. budget: $100 million

$53,450,000 in 4,259 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $12,675; Cumulative: $56,775,000

2. Pet Sematary (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 58; Est. budget: $21 million

$25,000,000 in 3,585 theaters; PTA: $6,974; Cumulative: $25,000,000

3. Dumbo (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$18,224,000 (-60%) in 4,259 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,279; Cumulative: $76,271,000

4. Us (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$13,813,000 (-58%) in 3,512 theaters (-231); PTA: $3,933; Cumulative: $152,396,000

5. Captain Marvel (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #3

$12,682,000 (-39%) in theaters (-412); PTA: $3,549; Cumulative: $374,174,000

6. The Best of Enemies (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 49; Est. budget: $10 million

$4,500,000 in 1,705 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $2,639; Cumulative: $4,500,000

7. Five Feet Apart (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #5

$3,700,000 (-40%) in 2,484 theaters (-362); PTA: $1,490; Cumulative: $41,591,000

8. Unplanned (PureFlix) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$3,200,000 (-50%) in 1,516 theaters (+457); PTA: $2,111; Cumulative: $12,468,000

9. Wonder Park (Paramount) Week; Last weekend #6

$2,040,000 (-59%) in 2,281 theaters (-1,023); PTA: $894; Cumulative: $41,981,000

10. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #7

$1,985,000 (-55) in 1,928 theaters (-857); PTA: $1,030; Cumulative: $156,692,000

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Source: IndieWire film