Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the independent film world. (Clockwise from upper left: Videocracy, The Greatest, Crazy Heart, Prodigal Sons,)
Deals. The past seven days have been busy, according to our friends at indieWIRE. Erik Gandini's documentary Videocracy will open in New York City on February 12, via its deal with Lorber Films, and will then roll out across the country. The film examines the media culture in Italy; Todd Brown at Twitch calls it "riveting viewing, at times bizarre, at other times horrifying, but always impossible to turn away from." NSFW trailer after the jump.
Theatrical rights to Shana Feste's The Greatest were picked up by Paladin, which plans a late March release followed by an early April expansion. Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon star as parents dealing with the tragic death of their teenage son; Carey Mulligan (An Education) gives a "sharp, honest" performance as the girlfriend left behind, according to Eric D. Snider, who felt the movie itself is "an uncomfortable misfire."
Kimberly Reed's prize-winning doc Prodigal Sons was acquired by First Run Features, which will release it in late February. Prodigal Sons "sees the filmmaker grappling with her insecurities as a trans person outside her comfort zone," wrote Ed Gonzalez in The Village Voice. "Reed's high school reunion forces her to reconnect with the community that knew her only as a basketball-playing jock, but her struggle doesn't end there."
George A. Romero's latest zombie flick, Survival of the Dead, landed a deal with Magnet Releasing, the genre releasing arm of Magnolia Pictures. Mike Bracken at our sister site Horror Squad has the details and a clip.
After the jump: Crazy numbers.
Indie Weekend Box Office. The overall per-theater earnings crown was nabbed by Rob Marshall's musical Nine ($64,308), trailed by the monster release of James Cameron's Avatar ($22,313), according to Box Office Mojo.
Featuring neither sexy dancing girls (as far as I know) nor big blue aliens (as far as I know), Crazy Heart, written and directed by Scott Cooper, drew very respectably, averaging $20,666 at the four theaters where it opened. Jeff Bridges stars as country music singer Bad Blake, who has seen better days, and hopes to see a few more with the help of journalist Maggie Gyllenhaal. Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell also appear. Bridges has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.
Period drama The Young Victoria did just OK, averaging $8,003 at 20 theaters. Our own Monika Bartyzel says it "almost works beautifully, but ultimately falls victim to poor framing and the throes of dramatic romance." Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong, and Jim Broadbent star; Jean-Marc Vallee (the brilliant C.R.A.Z.Y.) directed.
Two limited expansions performed well, ahead of their wider openings on Friday. Jason Reitman's latest studio release, Up in the Air, rode a wave of critical plaudits to a sumptuous $18,344 average at 175 theaters. Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces had more modest returns, with a per-theater average of $6,833 in 30 engagements.
Two other films in their second week of release ended up with about the same average, slightly more than $15,000: Tom Ford's A Single Man (at nine theaters) and Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones (at three theaters). Jackson's film is facing the bigger challenge, since it reportedly had a budget of $100 million (?!) and has received mixed critical notices. It opens wide on January 15.
Trailers. Only one this week: the revealing, chilling, NSFW trailer for Videocracy.