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‘The Magic Flute’, With A ‘Harry Potter’ Feel And YA Cred, Hopes To Hit A High Note – Specialty Preview

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Shout! Studios presents The Magic Flute by Florian Zigl, executive produced by Roland Emmerich, at 325 theaters with expansion likely. A reimagining of the Mozart opera, it follows a present-day teen sent from London to the Austrian Alps on singing scholarship at the legendary Mozart boarding school. There, he discovers a century old forgotten passageway into the magical world of Mozart’s famed opera.

This Harry Potter-ish adventure fantasy stars Jack Wolfe as Tim Walker, who passes from school into the world of the opera and its many adventures as hero Prince Tamino. Wide releases may be picking up steam and Scream, but in terms of new specialty, and family fare, these isn’t much new competition this weekend.

Melissa Boag, EVP of Family Entertainment at Shout! Studios, hopes it will play with fans of magical adventure, Harry Potter, and classical music. Wolfe is a star of Netflix YA series Shadow & Bone. Co-star Amir Wilson is featured in the BBC and HBO series His Dark Materials. This is Shout! Studios widest release ever, she said.

F. Murray Abraham plays a crotchety headmaster. Also starring Iwan Rheon Stéfi Celma, Asha Banks Stefan Konarske, Niamh McCormack and Tedros Teclebrhan. Lots of good music, with French soprano Sabine Devieilhe (Opéra National de Paris), Mexican-French tenor Rolando Villazón, and U.S. bass Morris Robinson (Metropolitan Opera) among the ensemble cast. World premiered at the Zurich film festival.

This is a Harry Potter-ish adventure fantasy as Tim Walker (Jack Wolfe) passes from school to the world of the opera and its many adventures as its hero Prince Tamino. As wide releases pick up, this looks like the biggest specialty offering of Oscar weekend.

Utopia opens Therapy Dogs on select screens today with limited showtimes in NY, LA and Seattle, expanding next week. Director Ethan Eng was the youngest filmmaker to debut a feature at Slamdance, where it premiered last year. Ethan and his best friend Justin are students trying to make sense of their high school existence in this low-budget verité senior video.

At an early screening at Brooklyn music venue Public Records, featured “Anarchy” prom decorations, a Q&A and live performance by composer/musician Sam Ray of the band Teen Suicide. 

Well Go USA opens Irish creature feature/home invasion horror Unwelcome by Jon Wright. Londoners Maya and Jamie leave London for a house they inherit rural Ireland to raise their child. But the new home holds primeval secrets — at the bottom of their garden is an ancient gnarled wood where a supernatural presence lurks. Written by Mark Stay. With Hannah John-Kamen, Douglas Booth, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Colm Meaney, Niamh Cusack, Kristian Nairn. One show a day in 75 theaters.

Grasshopper Films presents Thelonious Monk documentary Rewind by Alain Gomis. Monk arrives in Paris in December of 1969 and before his evening concert he recorded a program for French television. The rushes that have been preserved are a rare look at the great artist, and a portrait of a hollow media machine. Premiered in Berlin and New Yok Film Festival. Opens at BAM today, rolling out to a dozen arthouses this month.

KimStim presents Stonewalling, a slow-burn portrait of young adults in modern China. Part of a trilogy by indie Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka that focus on the struggles of young women in contemporary China — in this case one dealing with an unplanned pregnancy in the hyper-competitive, TikTok-influenced gig economy world of urban China. Opens at Film at Lincoln Center, which is also showing the first two films in the trilogy, The Foolish Bird and Egg and Stone.

Screen Media presents action drama The Ritual Killer by George Gallo with Yellowstone star Cole Hauser, Morgan Freeman and Vernon Davis, in ten theaters. A detective hunts an international murderer committing ritualistic killings in a small Mississippi town.

Gravitas presents heist thriller Righteous Thieves in eight theaters. By Anthony Nardolillo. With Cam Gigandet, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Lisa Vidal, Carlos Miranda, Benjamin Schnau, Danube Hermosillo. Annabel (Vidal), leads a secret organization engaged in the recovery of priceless artwork stolen by Nazis during WWII and now in the possession of a neo-Nazi billionaire (Cousins).

Greenwich Entertainment’s timely doc I Got A Monster about the spectacularly corrupt Baltimore police department special unit that inspired the HBO series We Own This City. The film by Kevin Abrams, based on the book I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad by Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg, is primarily a TVOD release with a theatrical engagement in Baltimore.

Viva Films presents Martyr or Murderer by Darryl Yap in limited release. With Cesar Montano, Cristine Reyes, Ruffa Gutierrez. Chronicles the final days of the Philippines’ Marcos family before they were airlifted out of Malacanang and flown to Hawaii. What happened to the family before and after the EDSA Revolution, and a peek at their life in exile. 

Strand Releasing presents 99 Moons, Jan Gassmann’s buzzy film that premiered in Cannes’ ACID sidebar. The story of Bigna, a 28-year-old scientist and Frank, a 33-year-old druggie, who become obsessively entwined in a turbulent love affair. The film stars first-time actors Valentina Di Pace and Dominik Fellmann. Opens at the Quad Theatre in NYC, LA (Laemmle Royal) next week.

Level 33 Entertainment presents family sci-fi Future TX at seven locations. Directed (and produced and written by Tim Clague and Danny Stock and starring Grif Rhys Jones, who plays twins — one a crazy scientist, the other the scheming villain.

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