On the heels of other successful music-oriented non-fiction titles, Sony Pictures Classics’ David Crosby: Remember My Name opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. The doc, spotlighting the long-time rocker, headlines a fairly busy weekend of new Specialties making their debuts. Freestyle Releasing is going day and date with aging superhero feature Supervised, starring Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges and Louis Gossett Jr., while Breaking Glass Pictures is heading out with Tokyo-set gangster thriller She’s Just a Shadow. A thriller set overseas is Screen Media’s Berlinale 2018 title, Luz, which opens Friday in New York and L.A.
Other limited release debuts include Martin Bell’s doc Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell at Metrograph in New York, along with his 1984 doc Streetwise that introduced the real-life Tiny decades ago. Also heading out is Karlovy Vary Film Festival prize winner I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians from Big World Pictures exclusively at IFC Center in New York followed by the Laemmle Monica next week.
Neon is re-releasing Todd Douglas Miller’s Sundance premiere Apollo 11, just as the first moon landing hits its 50th anniversary this week. The run will include weeklong engagements and one-off showings in over 100 theaters across top markets including New York, Los Angeles, DC, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Miami. The documentary, which began playing on CNN following an exclusive theatrical window, grossed over $8.9M in the box office, the highest of the year for a nonfiction film to date. It has also been the top grossing documentary in the U.K. at over $1M.
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Director: A.J. Eaton
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
David Crosby: Remember My Name is Sony Pictures Classics’ second non-fiction release this summer. The company saw the documentary at the Sundance premiere. Both the subject and the tie-in with one of the title’s producers and on-screen subjects, Cameron Crowe, were irresistible.
“When we saw the movie, we were taking in what an outsized character David Crosby is with over 50 years of living in the music [world] and living to tell the tale. He’s a complex character. In the film, you like him one moment, and then you don’t the next,” observed SPC co-president Michael Barker. “We’ve [also] been admirers of Cameron Crowe forever and have always wanted to do something with him. He always had made bigger, mainstream films that Sony Classics doesn’t typically do. As a teen, he interviewed musicians for Rolling Stone including David Crosby. Now in 2019, Cameron Crowe and David Crosby [are seen] with a much fuller view.”
The documentary explores the life and creative renaissance of music icon Crosby. A cultural force for over fifty years, Crosby faced an uncertain future after the 2015 dissolution of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Racked with health issues and personal obstacles, Crosby forged a new path at the age of 77. Seeking out younger musicians and recording a pair of critically-praised new albums, Crosby now sets out to make a mark in a world so different from that of his generation in the ‘60s. With unflinching honesty, self-examination, regret, fear, exuberance and an unshakable belief in family and the transformative nature of music, Crosby shares his often-challenged journey with humor and bite.
David Crosby: Remember My Name comes on the heels of fellow rock documentary Echo in the Canyon, which Greenwich Entertainment bowed in late May and has cumed over $2.33M. Though a very different genre of music, CBS Films’ Ron Howard-directed doc Pavarotti has taken in $3.6M since its early June opening. Still early in its release, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love from Roadside Attractions has totaled over $178K in theaters.
“We feel this film appeals to a wide variety of people, not just Crosby’s generation, but also young people seem to take to this movie,” said Barker. “I can’t tell you how many people who have told me that the movie has moved them because it reminded them of their parents.”
Sony Classics is opening David Crosby: Remember My Name in select New York and L.A. theaters today. The doc will head to other major markets including San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. next week ahead of a slow roll out throughout August.
SPC’s next doc will be fellow Sundance premiere Where’s My Roy Cohn? by Matt Tyrnauer in September.
Director: Steve Barron
Writers: Andy Briggs, John Niven
Cast: Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges, Louis Gossett Jr., Fionnula Flanagan, Elya Baskin, Fiona Glascott
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Robert Halmi, Sr. and filmmaker Steve Barron had been working on a series together several years ago when the former mentioned a feature idea centered on superheroes living in a senior living facility. Halmi later passed away, but Robert Halmi Jr. helped pick up the mantle and circled back with Barron.
Supervised tells the story of an elderly group of international superheroes retired to Dunmanor nursing home in Ireland. Ray is the once-world-renowned “Maximum Justice” who, as his nom de hero suggests, will fight bad with good till the cows come home. He finds it hard to accept that his hero days are over and now it’s bingo games and blanket baths. His old team, consisting of trusted sidekick Ted, aka “Shimmy,” old flame Madera “Moonlight” and rival at everything Pendle “Total Thunder”, is far more accepting of their undignified destiny. When Jerry the “Rainbow Warrior” dies after having his superpowers “downwardly managed” for the safety of others, Ray suspects foul play and decides to investigate. The rest of the gang are not so convinced, and Ray finds himself battling against not only his enemies, but the stigma and restrictions of old age.
“Robert Jr. raised funds and this is certainly a film that would fit into a budget since we kept it mostly on one location,” said Barron. “That’s the criteria we worked with.”
With a script by Andy Bridges and John Niven, Barron eyed Beau Bridges to come on board to play a senior superhero, followed by Tom Berenger. Bridges later tapped his friend Louis Gossett Jr. to join the pack.
“We thought it would be quite fun to be one of the few superhero films to come out of Ireland,” said Barron who grew up in the country. “Somehow the neutrality of Ireland suit the story.”
Supervised shot in Dublin over 21 days, mostly within the confines of one main locale. “It’s a bit One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in that way,” explained Barron. “The characters are kept inside and aren’t supposed to use their powers anymore, which works with the [overall] concept.”
Freestyle Releasing is handling the U.S. release of Supervised in a day and date release beginning Friday.
She’s Just a Shadow
Director-writer: Adam Sherman
Cast: Tao Okamoto, Haruka Abe, Kihiro, Kentez Asaka
Distributor: Breaking Glass Pictures
Distributor Breaking Glass Pictures had worked with Adam Sherman who served as a producer on Larry Clark’s Marfa Girl (2012) and Marfa Girl 2 (2018), both of which the company released. Earlier this year, Sherman told the company’s Rich Wolff about a thriller set in Japan that he wrote and directed.
“We saw it. It’s pretty edgy, and the filmmaking is so lush,” said Wolff. “It’s so well done. At times when someone writes, directs and produces, the three [roles] may not work for the benefit of the film, but this one did.”
The feature is described as a “modern, dreamlike take on the gangster genre.” She’s Just a Shadow centers on a matriarchal crime family engaged in a vicious gang war. A deranged killer is leaving his victims on railroad tracks all over Tokyo, and the only thing more dangerous than him is the vicious love triangle within the family itself. She’s Just a Shadow is mostly in English though mostly filmed in Tokyo.
“After [boarding the film] we looked for a strong PR company that understood the film and would not be intimidated with the nudity and sex,” explained Wolff noting. “I have known Prodigy PR for a while. I told them to let me know if this might be outside their comfort zone. They were with [the film] and so we brought them on early.”
The company also tapped Twitch to spearhead social media. Wolff said the two entities have worked seamlessly in tandem to promote the title as it heads to a day and date release this weekend. The push has, not surprisingly, been with genre fans and also social media platforms that are primarily Asian-focused.
“You can tell when there’s friction, but Prodigy and Twitch work well,” he said. “Adam is on pre-production on a new film. He’s been involved with the release, but he’s not trying to micro-manage. You can have a brilliant director, but that person may not know how to release a film. He’ll give his opinions, but it’s been proactive rather than reactive.”
Theatrically, She’s Just a Shadow will bow in 12 cities including New York and Los Angeles along with other top markets.
Director-writer: Tilman Singer
Cast: Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Luana Velis
Distributor: Screen Media
German and Spanish-language thriller Luz had its debut at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival before playing last year’s Fantastic Fest stateside where distributor Screen Media caught the feature. Luz also played an extensive round of genre events on both sides of the Atlantic. The feature is shot entirely on 16mm by first time feature film director Tilman Singer who pays homage to horror masters David Cronenberg, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
“There’s always an audience for elevated genre content…however, the movie must really deliver,” explained Screen Media’s Mike Messina. “We were blown away, which isn’t an easy thing to do because we see so many movies, but we loved how inventive [filmmaker Tilman Singer] was while also paying homage to the masters.”
The feature centers on Luz, a young female cabdriver who drags herself into a run-down police station. However, a demonic entity has followed her there, determined to finally be close to the woman it loves.
“Given its successful slow festival build and its overwhelmingly positive critical response, we are doing our best to position the movie as a ‘must see,’” noted Messina. “Since there’s no better place to unnerve and scare people than in a dark theater, we felt that focusing on the theatrical experience would send a strong message to horror fans and give the movie time to breathe while building its audience.”
Messina added that the company has been engaged in a “smart PR campaign” in addition to targeted social media touting the feature’s critical response.
“Fans are dying to see it, [and] theaters are excited to program it,” he added. “We felt confident we could release the movie almost anytime during the year and it would be heralded as a must see. The success of smart, well-executed genre films in recent weeks has backed our inclination to go during the summer.”
Messina noted that a summer release will position the title for a home entertainment window in the fall, which is a traditionally popular time of the year for genre content.
Luz will bow in New York at IFC Center, Alamo Drafthouse and Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as well as the Laemmle Monica and Laemmle Glendale in the L.A. area Friday. More cities around the country will be added in the coming weeks.