Cinematical's Indie Roundup: 'Mercy,' 'Breathless'

Deals. Scott Caan stars in Mercy, which has been picked up by IFC Films, according to indieWIRE. Caan, who also wrote and produced, plays a romance novelist "who doesn't believe in love." Until, I'm sure, he meets the right woman, possibly the beautiful and mysterious title character (Wendy Glenn). Caan's real-life father, the legendary James Caan, plays his fictional father. Mercy will close this year's Gen Art Film Festival, which Erik Davis recently explained is the coolest thing ever. The film will be available on demand on April 28 before opening theatrically in New York and Los Angeles.

Also due in theaters this spring: Jean-Luc Godard's original, daring, influential Breathless. For the first time in its 50 years of existence, the film has been restored, making the new wave look new again. After debuting at the inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood next month, it will open at New York's Film Forum on May 28 before rolling out nationally, courtesy of Rialto Pictures. I first saw Breathless at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles many moons ago, and it left me stunned, so I'm very happy that a new generation will be able to experience Breathless the way it was meant to be seen.

Online / On Demand Viewing. If you're not 'mock-doc' averse, you'll want to take a look at What the Funny?, a new web series by Lynn Shelton that's debuting exclusively on Babelgum this week. Shelton made the bromance male relationship flick Humpday, so she knows a little bit about dry and humorous. The first episode is up, and if you like it, you can look forward to ten more episodes in the days ahead.

After the jump: a secret, a prophet, and dolphins.

Indie Weekend Box Office. The Academy Award weekend skews the box office figures to some extent, as the viewers most likely to go see an indie film are also among the most likely to watch the awards show, whether to blog, boo, or bellow. What do the numbers say? Here are a few highlights, based on information compiled by Box Office Mojo.

'The Secret of Kells'The Secret of Kells
, the least known quantity among the five best animated feature nominees, opened at one theater and earned $39,826. In his review, Cinematical's Todd Gilchrist wrote: "Turning the origin story of the fabled Book of Kells into a fanciful but never frivolous work of historical fiction, co-directors Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey find a perfect synthesis between childhood exuberance and grown-up restraint, creating a singular and sensational animated work that needs no formal reward to be recognized as a great achievement."

Jacques Audiard's prison drama A Prophet was widely viewed as one of two front runners for the foreign-language Academy Award. Because of that raised profile, as well as nearly unanimous critical praise, the film averaged $7,417 as it expanded from nine to 30 screens. It is nearing $500,000 in total receipts.

Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, the other front runner, added another 24 screens for a total of 106 in its 10th week of release, and averaged $1,328 per theater, pushing its total take to $1.7 million. Fellow nominee Ajami added five screens and earned $2,535, on average, at 21 theaters in its fifth week of release. It has earned more than $300,000 theatrically.

Oscar-winning documentary The Cove is playing in two theaters, but has been around for 32 weeks theatrically and is already out on home video. Therefore, the fact that it earned just $88 (total) over the weekend should not be disconcerting. If I may be so bold, I predict it will double that take before retiring gracefully. Long live the dolphins!

In non-Oscar news, Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss debuted and grossed $9,528 at one theater. The documentary covers the life and career of the Nazi filmmaker known as Joseph Goebbels' "top director."

Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer averaged $8,759 as it expanded into 147 theaters, and is now at $2.6 million in cumulative gross, domestically.