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Monster Nightmares, Hippie Van Guru & A Woman Locked In Her Car, Part Of SFiFF Surreal Shorts From Fabio Colonna, Jeff Hilliard, Emily Maya Mills & More

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In addition to New Mexico being a serious place for filmmaking and TV series –the state reaping a record $855.4M from Hollywood’s motion picture & TV industry’s spending– Santa Fe itself counts a fervent moviegoing community, especially for arthouse and experimental product.

Audiences packed venues around town for the Santa Fe International Film Festival from Oct. 19-23 for films of all shapes and sizes at such venues as the George R.R. Martin owned Jean Cocteau Cinema; the Moorish, Spanish Renaissance 1931 built Lensic Theater; and the two-story, bistro cinema the Violet Crown in the swanky railroad district among others. In regards to the moviegoing spirit, think Toronto, but on a much smaller scale.

Amy Redford, director of Roost, right. Courtesy SFiFF

However, at a time when the industry sweats as to when the 40-plus demographic will return to the cinema after the pandemic, especially with LA’s arthouse scene hobbled with the Landmark on Pico and the Arclight completely dark; here’s hope, Hollywood, in a city of 88K residents that older moviegoing is showing signs of life in America. Read, the SFiFF booking of Amy Redford’s slow burn YA thriller Roost was completely filled at the Violet Crown on Thursday night, and by the 50+ crowd. When I relayed this to a distribution boss this morning, they remarked that Violet Crown is a mandatory booking in any theatrical release’s distribution track, the multiplex playing everything now from Black Adam to Tar.

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So, while the rest of the nation was flocking to Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, and making that his highest opening ever as a solo star ($67M), Santa Fe hit pause on the tentpoles this week in exchange for more edgier far. One diamond in the rough last night at SFiFF that even caught the attention of Twilight filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, who was in attendance for the entire two-hour block plus Q&A, was the fest’s surreal shorts showcase at the Center for Contemporary Arts Theater. The theater is located in the back of a parking lot in a residential area of the city. The CCA had NEON’s David Bowie documentary Moonage Dream currently on the marquee there, but that pic took the break for the night for a lineup of seven trippy shorts from filmmakers who hailed from Mexico, Canada, USC and UCLA cinema grad programs.

Unheimlich

The most ambitious of these was the black-and-white silent horror short Unheimlich from Mexican filmmaker Fabio Colonna who already has ten short movies under his belt — ambitious in the film’s vibrant, labyrinth rickety attic-tunnel-like set and use of VFX in the monster’s transformation. The 16 minute movie follows a young woman (Helena Puig), who wakes from a nightmare during rainy night. She runs through a surreal maze where she confronts a sinister creature (José María Higareda) in the mirror who then chases her. It’s a short evoking German impressionism that would make Guillermo del Toro proud.

Then there was Upright Citizens Brigade and USC alum and Los Angeles based comedienne Emily Maya Mills who had two shorts that got into SFiFF: Boo Hag or Shadow Man in the genre shorts and This Actually Happened in the surreal section. Mills, whose TV credits include Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Warner Bros. Right Now Kapow, Harry’s Law, The Birthday Boys, has a monthly comedy show in the Frogtown section of LA and is known not just for her sketch and improv work at UCB throughout the years, but for her parade of eccentric socially-bent characters from her one-woman show God Hates Figs. Now taking her comedic voice, and game-improv sensibility to the screen, Mills’ Boo Hag or Shadow Man, follows an R.N. (Tiffany Gist) who returns home after a 12-hour shift, ready for a quiet evening of pancakes and trash TV. But her spirit conjuring roommate (Eboni Adams) brings home company– an angry specter she accidentally released from a client at work. Now they have to divvy up banishment duties and there’s no time for a chore wheel. Mills, wearing several hats, shot the short during Covid with her actresses in an AirBnB; much of her below the line crew having to zoom into the shoot. The short was Mills’ USC 546 thesis funded by the school by way of a pitch competition. You can watch the trailer below:

BOO HAG OR SHADOW MAN – TRAILER from Emily Maya Mills on Vimeo.

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Mills’ eight minute comedy This Actually Happened which played the surreal section starred her collaborator and Key and Peele actress Lindsay Ames and Better Things and Party of Five actress Carrie Aizley. Logline: After a guilt trip to morning yoga, Lindsay opted out of bicycle shopping with her mother, citing hangover symptoms and toxic parenting— only to find herself held hostage by the hellscape of a sedan. Ames wrote the script which is based on her saga of being locked in the car by her mother on the hottest day of the year.

“It was a true story,” said Mills at the Q&A, and that the m.o. of the production “was to follow the beats of the stages of grief.”

L to R: Jeff Hilliard, Emily Maya Mills. Photo credit: Deadline

“All I can tell you is that she (the mother) went to buy a bike and they were parked in a weird-ass spot and no one came by — it went on for an hour and 15 minutes,” said the director. Mills shot the movie with a handheld cam inside a BMW, also during one of the hottest days of the year in July in between Covid surges. Mills starred in last year’s short Soundman which made the festival rounds.

Also providing laughs last night was Jeff Hilliard’s musical video Consensual about a mobile guru who dreams of getting it on with a girl he’s literally trying to pick up. Hilliard stars in the short with Hannah Boddy and Jessica Wall. The LA-based multihyphenate, whose film work has a musical bent, starred in Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog which played the 2016 Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. Green screen and VFX were key in pulling off the hysterical Consensual which you can watch below:

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Jeff Hilliard – Consensual (Official Music Video) from Jeff Hilliard on Vimeo.

One UCLA thesis film, Captain Ocean came from Jessie Klearman which starred her boyfriend Tre Smith as a guy who is on the lam, hiding out in Joshua Tree for a crime he didn’t commit, which he details throughout the film. Smith told the crowd that the short repped his acting debut, which greatly expressed Hardwicke. He had previously worked in promotions, but acting is the new gig. Trailer below:

Monkey-Love, Please Hold, courtesy SFiFF

From Toronto’s Ryerson Film program was Greg Fox’s 24-minute Monkey-Love, Please Hold about a young man, (Dan Mousseau of Strays) obsessed with The Planet of the Apes, and recently broken up, who takes solace in repeated live sex chats with an office woman (Hannah Galway who stars in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities). Monkey-Love, Please Hold is the seventh short from Fox.

Wild Card: L to R, Billy Flynn and Tipper Newton
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Paying great homage to such 1980s pulp thrillers like Robert Vincent O’Neil’s Angel, but much funnier, is Tipper Newton’s Wild Card, about a guy played by Days of our Lives Billy Flynn who submits himself on videotape to a dating service. He gets a call from the gum-chewing, red leather clad Toni, whom the director (whose TV credits include The Mindy Project, Curb Your Enthusiasm) also plays. Let’s just say this: She has a gun, and a history. Wild Card is Newton’s third directed short.

Detached, courtesy SFiFF

If there was a motif going on in the lineup, four of the shorts centered around relationship woes. Co-directors Harry and Sidney Schleiff dote on a couple whose life has become bored and stagnant in Detached. However, their spirits leave their bodies, respectively on different nights, and they’re replaced with re-energized, hyper versions for better…or for worse. The whole event forces them to confront the reality of living with an idealized version of themselves. The short recently played the Hamptons Film Festival. Sidney Schleiff is a writer on Netflix’s Kid Cudi and Kenya Barris co-created Entergalactic.



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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Closes In On $550M WW – International Box Office

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Refresh for latest…: In its sophomore frame, Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sent its worldwide cume well past the $500M mark, with an estimated $546.3M through Sunday.  The split is $288M domestic and $258.3M from the international box office.

The Ryan Coogler-directed sequel is currently the No. 8 highest-grossing Hollywood release of 2022 overseas. Globally, it is at No. 7.

The second offshore weekend was good for $69.8M in 50 material markets. That’s a 49% drop from opening which is better than the majority of other MCU titles for the same suite of markets, including Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (both -56%) as well as Spider-Man: No Way Home (-60%).

Holds were strong in parts of Europe — Germany and Netherlands were each off by 31%, the UK down 48%. Elsewhere, Australia dipped 39%, Brazil was down 43%, and Mexico and Taiwan off 45% apiece. BP2 remains the No. 1 non-local movie in all markets.

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The Top 5 markets to date are the UK ($27.1M), Mexico ($22.8M), France ($21.6M), Brazil ($14.2M) and Korea ($14M).

The IMAX international cume is $13.6M with $34.9M global. 

In its global opening frame last weekend, Wakanda Forever scored the 3rd highest start for any Hollywood title during the pandemic era, as well as the 2nd biggest global opening of 2022 to date and the 5th highest international launch weekend posted by any Hollywood film of the pandemic era. 

Last Tuesday, BP2 propelled Disney across $3B at the worldwide box office, the 14th year that the studio has achieved the milestone.

MORE…

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Audiences Gobble Up ‘The Menu’ Thursday Night With $1M+; ‘Wakanda Forever’ Ends First Week With $220M+

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EXCLUSIVE: The Searchlight absurdist genre comedy got off to a promising start with $1M+ last night in previews, we hear. That number is up there with recent comps as Barbarian which did $850K on its Thursday night before a $10.5M opening, and The Northman, another Anya Taylor Joy movie, which posted $1.35M before a $12.2M start. The opening weekend estimate for the Mark Mylod directed movie which also stars Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult and John Leguizamo among others is around $8M. If this movie gets to $10M, it would be a nice oasis for counterprogramming in the face of Disney and Marvel Studios’ mammoth Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which is expected to do a second weekend in the $70M-range. That preview number for The Menu includes some cash from Wednesday and previews that began at 5PM yesterday. The Menu is 91% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and currently has a good audience score of 83%.

Wakanda Forever posted a $7.5M Thursday, -8% from Wednesday for a first week of $220.7M. The pic crossed $400M worldwide on Wednesday.

Universal’s movie about the New York Times reporters who exposed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, She Said, isn’t expected to do much this weekend, in the low single digits. Previews from 1,600 theatres that began at 5PM were only $160K. Remember, despite any low grosses from these arthouse-type films, in the post-pandemic era, their awards season chances won’t be slowed. I mean, some of the big awards contenders don’t even report their box office grosses. She Said is 85% certified fresh critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 92% audience score from the few who’ve seen it.

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Deadline’s Deep Dive Into ‘Bones And All’, ‘She Said’, And More New Releases – Take Two

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Editor’s note: Deadline presents the 40th episode of its video series Take Two, in which Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy tackle the artistry of films just opening in theaters every weekend. Each has reviewed and written about the craft for decades and built a remarkable breadth of knowledge of films past and present. What we hoped for when we asked them to do this was a concise, mature and thoughtful conversation comparable to what we saw from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

This week we look at the new releases Bones And All , She Said, and Polish International Film entry EO. Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance star in director Luca Guadagnino’s award winning Bones And All, an unlikely love story set against the world of cannibalism, but what is it really about? Guadagnino won the Best Director award at the Venice Film Festival for this, his first film shot in America, specifically the American midwest with a story that goes in unpredictable directions but does it really work? It will be playing wide for Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. What is the appetite for it?

And find out what we say about She Said, the kind of critically acclaimed and serious drama Harvey Weinstein used to champion at Miramax and The Weinstein Company. That won’t be the case here for this Universal release because Weinstein’s criminal role is at the center of it, an authentically told story of the New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey who broke open the case against Harvey in getting the multitude of women victimized by his various sexual assaults finally getting to have their say. Many of them are even in the film that stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as those courageous journalists, and even includes Ashley Judd playing herself. Directed by Maria Schrader and written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, this is a film about women, in front of and behind the screen, who went against the odds to be able tell an extraordinary story. How well do they succeed, and will audiences even bother to see it even as Weinstein is on trial again, this time in Los Angeles after being sentenced to 23 years in prision in New York. Find out what we say about him and why this is a must see.

Finally we do a deep dive into one of the year’s finest international films, the official Oscar entry from Poland, veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski’s moving, wry, and compelling EO. The film focuses on a donkey and his wild journey, but is it really about humanity and the people he meets along the way. It won a prize at Cannes where it debuted in May, and now it hits theatres.

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To watch our conversation just click on the link above.

Hammond has been Deadline’s Awards Columnist for the past decade, covering what now seemingly is the year-round Oscar and Emmy seasons. He is also Deadline’s Chief Film Critic, having previously reviewed films for MovieLine, Boxoffice magazine, Backstage, Hollywood.com and Maxim, as well as Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, for which he was a contributing editor. In addition to writing, Hammond also hosts KCET Cinema Series and the station’s weekly series Must See Movies.

McCarthy is a veteran trade publication film critic, columnist and reporter who has also written several acclaimed books and documentary films. He served two stints on the staffs of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and extensively covered film festivals internationally for both publications. His film Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography won the best documentary prizes from the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics associations, and he won an Emmy for writing the documentary Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer. He also directed the documentaries Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and Forever Hollywood.



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