Today Focus Features opens Tár, the strikingly original return of Todd Field, in four locations in NY and LA. The film premiered at Venice winning star Cate Blanchett Best Actress as musician and conductor Lydia Tár. Early this week, it seemed to mesmerize a sold-out Allice Tully Hall at the New York Film Festival.
A 97% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Deadline’s review here called Field’s first film since Little Children 16 years ago, a “daring and quite comprehensive immersion in a rarified world [that] features a lead performance the likes of which doesn’t come along very often.” Field wrote the part for Blanchett but at an NYFF Q&A he said he waited to send her the script until it was done and Focus CEO Peter Kujawski “asked me, ‘Who do you have in mind?’ I said I was still thinking about it. Because I was superstitious. That she would say no.”
No risk there. “I had never read a script like it,” Blanchett said of the film that examines the changing nature of power dynamics in the modern world through the lens of a major European orchestra and its flawed leader.
“The screenplay read like a musical score,” she said. But “Todd’s incredible intellect is married to an incredible heart,” so it’s not imperative that the audience “understand every syllable.” She said the film “raised questions I had been thinking about that I didn’t have the answers to. But the screenplay didn’t try to answer those questions simply, it really respected an audience.”
Tár‘s slow platform rollout starts at the Angelika and Lincoln Square in NY and the Grove and Century City in LA. Tentative plans are to open in 12 new markets/30 theaters next week then move to about 100 locations ahead of a wider rollout Oct. 28.
Produced by Field via his Standard Film Company, and Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert for Emjag Productions. Cast also includes Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong.
Also up this weekend, a big one, Neon presents Ruben Östlund’s 2022 Cannes Palme d’or winner Triangle of Sadness in ten markets including NY and LA. The social hierarchy-turned-upside-down comedy was written by Östlund. Produced by Erik Hemmendorff and Phillippe Bober. Starring Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon and Woody Harrelson. Celebrity model couple, Carl (Dickinson) and Yaya (Dean), are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Harrelson). What first appeared wonderfully Instagrammable ends in catastrophe with the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival. Deadline review here. It’s 73% with critics and a hefty 94% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.
Magnolia’s Magnet Releasing opens writer/director Carlota Pereda’s Spanish horror thriller Piggy exclusively at 10 Alamo Drafthouse theaters. The Sundance selection and Best Horror Feature winner of the 2022 Fantastic Fest will expand to 25-30 locations and VOD next weekend. Set in a sweltering summer in rural Spain, obese teen Sara is carrying an extra load of agony due to perpetual bullying from peers and alienation at home. A solo dip at the local pool sees an exceptionally grueling bout of abuse at the hands of three classmates, and the presence of a mysterious stranger. As she runs home, Sara witnesses her bloodied tormentors being kidnapped in the back of the stranger’s van and must decide whether to cooperate with police or take her own path. Starring Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Jose Pastor, Pilar Castro, Fernando Delgado-Hierro, Claudia Salas Produced by Merry Colomer.
Magnolia acquired the film out of Sundance. Distribution chief Neal Block hopes a proven predilection for horror fare will overcome any language challenge. “It’s less of an issue for good genre films – they can more easily cross that language barrier. And Piggy, which simultaneously calls back to classic 80’s horror while subverting pretty much every genre expectation, is particularly well set up to find that audience, whether in theaters this week or at home next,” he said.
Overall, this is a specialty weekend with a breadth and depth rarely since Covid amid cautious optimism heading into awards season of a slow but ongoing arthouse recovery — if you don’t compare it to pre-Covid levels yet (or to A24s indie breakout hit, Everything Everywhere All At Once).
“There’s a lot out. We are going to have to carry the weight. There is nothing coming out in the studio world,” said one indie distributor. Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Amsterdam are the new wide releases.
“It will take a series of films to bring people back” and over multiple weekends, noted another specialty exec. Key arthouse theaters have been shuttered. But baby steps are still steps.
Also opening, Darryl Jones: In The Blood from Greenwich Entertainment, at Laemmle Monica and the Kerasotes Showplace Icon in Chicago, with concurrent TVOD release. Eric Hamburg’s feature documentary and directorial debut follows the bass player who rocked the Rolling Stones since replacing the retired Bill Wyman, as well as playing with Miles Davis, Sting, Madonna and more. It zooms in on the evolution of Jones, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago and was introduced early to music and the politics of race. Appearances by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and the late Charlie Watts in one of his last filmed interviews.
IFC Films is presenting Pretty Problems on 27 screens and on demand. Directed by Kestrin Pantera, the 2022 SXSW Audience Award winner follows a struggling couple whose relationship is put to the test when they are pulled along by absurdly wealthy strangers for a wine country getaway that turns into the most unhinged weekend of their lives. Written by Michael Tennant, Britt Rentschler, Charlotte Ubben. Featuring Rentschler, Tennant, J.J. Nolan, Graham Outerbridge, Alex Klein, Charlotte Ubben, Vanessa Chester, Tom DeTrinis, Amy Maghera. Deadline review here.
Cinedigm, in its largest in-house distribution effort, opens Terrifier 2 on 850 screens in partnership with Iconic Events. Written and directed by Damien Leone. Starring Felissa Rose, David Howard Thornton, Griffin Santopietro, Lauren LaVera and Chris Jericho. After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.
Vertical Entertainment presents The Storied Life of AJ Fikry based on the bestselling book by Gabrielle Zevin on 322 U.S. screens (and 10 in Canada). Vertical calls it an uplifting film great for date night. Directed by Hans Canosa. Starring Kunal Nayyar, Lucy Hale, Christina Hendricks, Blaire Brown, Lauren Stamile, with David Arquette and Scott Foley. Nayyar, of Big Bang Theory fame, is a bookstore owner struggling emotionally and financially after his wife’s tragic death. He hits rock bottom when his most prized possession, a series of Edgar Allen Poe poems, before unexpectedly gaining a new lease on life and love.
Quiver Distribution presents Bromates on 22 screens, expanding in coming weeks. A buddy comedy from Court Crandall, writer of Old School, stars Lil Rel Howery and Josh Brener. Executive produced and with a cameo by Snoop Dogg. Written by Chris Kemper and Crandall. Notes say Kemper, also an exec producer, is CEO of Palmetto Clean Technology, the employer of Brener’s character in the film. Best friends and polar opposites both break up with their girlfriends at the same time and decide to move in together in a misguided attempt to help each other through.
Strand Releasing opens Adam Kalderon’s gay sports drama The Swimmer at the Quad in NYC, expanding to Los Angeles. North Hollywood and Encino Laemmle locations next week. (This is not Sally El Hosaini’s The Swimmers that made a splash at TIFF). Erez (Omer Perelmen Striks), a rising star in the Israeli swimming scene, arrives at a godforsaken training camp to compete for a ticket to the Olympics. He meets and falls for a rival swimmer Nevo (Asaf Jonas).
Netflix opens All Quiet On The Western Front from TIFF at the Paris in NY and the Landmark Westwood, Los Feliz and Bay theaters in LA, expanding next week. Blonde continues in about 10 theaters, including the Quad in NY and the Bay in LA. In huge news, the streamer yesterday broke through an industry wall with a deal to give Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery a wide theatrical release with AMC, Regal and Cinemark over Thanksgiving. And, as importantly, a dedicated theatrical marketing push.
Here’s teaser for All Quiet On The Western Front, Deadline review here for Germany’s official submission for the Oscar’s International Feature Film.