Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the world of independent film. Pictured clockwise, from upper left: The Freebie, Winter in Wartime, Trucker, Saint John of Las Vegas.
Deals. Our own Eric D. Snider highlighted The 10 Sundance Films You Need to Watch For, which nicely sums up the buzz and the biggest distribution deals from the festival. Millions of dollars have been committed and the theatrical release schedule will be dotted with Sundance acquisitions for months to come. And the deals continue, as reported by our friends at indieWIRE.
Phase 4 Films won a bidding war for rights to writer/director Katie Aselton's The Freebie. Aselton stars with Dax Shepherd as a married couple whose relationship "is still full of love but lacking in lust," according to that dashing critic Eric D. Snider. He called it "an honest, unadorned relationship drama that suggests a new talent on the horizon." We await word of specific release plans.
Martin Koolhaven's Winter in Wartime has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. The drama follows a 13-year-old boy who becomes involved with the Dutch resistance after he helps a wounded British soldier near the end of World War II. Winter in Wartime was shortlisted, but ultimately not nominated, for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. As with The Freebie, specific release plans have not yet been announced.
Online / On Demand Viewing. Acclaimed drama Trucker, starring Michelle Monaghan, is now available on iTunes. Cinematical's Erik Davis wrote: "Monaghan finally delivered the sort of performance I've known was trapped somewhere inside her, hidden behind a variety of big, flashy Hollywood films."
After the jump: Saint John of Las Vegas reaps material rewards.
Indie Box Office Weekend. Opening in two theaters, Saint John of Las Vegas earned a modest $10,833 per location, according to Box Office Mojo, still good enough to win a quiet weekend at the indie box office. Steve Buscemi stars in Hue Rhodes' comedy/drama as a gambler on a road trip. Critical response was overwhelmingly negative, with only 13% positive per Rotten Tomatoes. "A tone-deaf odyssey of personal discovery," wrote Nick Schager in Slant Magazine. "Squandering its leads, stumbling in its attempts to evoke seedy Vegas-fringe eccentricity, and deluged by indie-quirky affectations, Saint John approximates hell with a fidelity it surely didn't intend."
Two other indies debuted. The documentary Off and Running took in $7,978 at a single theater. The film deals with "a black teenager raised by two white lesbians -- along with their other adopted children -- who seeks out her birth mother," wrote our own Christopher Campbell. "Sounds like a great subject for a film, but this particular doc, directed by Nicole Opper, is actually quite dull and pointless."
North Face (pictured) grossed an average $5,763 at four theaters. "Strong, handsome men battling the elements, attempting to conquer mountains despite freezing temperatures, biting winds, and the limits of their own endurance," Cinematical's Dawn Taylor described the basic premise in her review and then opined that Philipp Stölzl's film is "thrilling, nail-bitingly intense, and simply beautiful to behold." Two German climbers in 1936 attempt to scale the north face of the Eiger mountain peak in the Swiss Alps.