Indie Roundup reviews the past week of news from the independent film community and provides a peek at what's coming soon.
Festivals. The venerable New York Film Festival announced its first titles, while Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks of indieWIRE consider the impact of non-programming changes. In news from the other coast, Rachel Rosen is heading back to the City by the Bay to work as programming director for the San Francisco Film Society, reports The Wrap.
Rosen moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles eight years ago and helped transform the Los Angeles Film Festival into a truly major festival in a city that, oddly enough, doesn't give much respect to local film festivals. As Director of Programming, she and Senior Programmer Doug Jones chose a wonderfully diverse selection of international films that were challenging and not always the most audience friendly, yet they were distinctive and memorable. And now she's gone. (A more extensive report can be found at indieWIRE.) Whoever replaces her has big shoes to fill.
Online / On-Demand Viewing. I like free, legal movies, and Babelgum and Cinetic have a new title in their monthly program to tantalize cheapskates like me: Jack Says is described as a "contemporary film noir thriller," in which the titular character wakes up next to a corpse with amnesia (Jack, not the corpse). At SnagFilms, you can watch gamer doc Second Skin for free until tomorrow, as part of their SummerFest series. And from Friday through Sunday, the doc Captured -- all about Manhattan's Lower East Side -- will be available for free streaming via Cinetic's channel at Daily Motion.
What do Cold Souls and Paper Heart have in common? Indie Weekend Box Office, after the jump.
Indie Weekend Box Office. 'Go ahead and enjoy your army toys and your cookbooks,' the indie world said, 'and we shall delight in our nature documentaries and revel in our Cold Souls.'
While Dolphins and Whales: Tribes of the Ocean 3D and The Magnificent Desolation (in IMAX) registered higher per-screen averages, Cold Souls edged out all other feature-length contenders for the per-screen crown last weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. As Eric D. Snider described the film in his most recent Indie Spotlight, Paul Giamatti stars "as an actor named Paul Giamatti who takes advantage of a company that extracts people's souls and stores them." The combination of that premise and positive reviews proved to be irresistible, even if the average of $9,043 at seven theaters was not earth-shattering.
Still more indies opened in limited engagements, each at just one theater. Bliss took in $7,039, good enough for second place on the indie chart, and Beeswax took third with $5,844. The latter film, directed by Andrew Bujalski, had its US Premiere at SXSW, which is where I saw it, and I completely agree with Jette Kernion, who said it's "a good movie that does some surprising things in a quiet way." It's really a marvelously rich, subtle comedy / drama, and I hope that more people give it a try.
Two other debuting films spotlighted by Eric fared less well. Paper Heart romanced audiences to the tune of $5,776 per-screen at 38 screens in the top 20 markets across the country, while zombie comedy I Sell the Dead scared up $3,529 at the single theater in Manhattan where it opened. I'm not surprised at the numbers for a zombie comedy (no offense, but as a horror fan, I know that sub-genre is feeling a bit played out), but, frankly, I thought Paper Heart would make a bigger splash.
Without tracking it closely, my perception was that distributor Overture Films had been endeavoring to make the public more aware of the film, with multiple advance screenings, as well as sending star Charlyne Yi on a publicity tour. She got some mileage out of her claim that she and Michael Cera, who's featured in the film, never actually dated, despite news report to the contrary. (See Moviefone's interview with her.) All things considered, earning $219,494 for a low-budget, quasi-doc in its first weekend is not bad, and perhaps word of mouth will help when it expands, starting this weekend.