DAILY NEWS:Sundance Online Fest Lives; "Dragon" Slays Record; and Palm Springs Opener
by Eugene Hernandez , Anthony Kaufman, Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> Sundance Online Film Festival Will Debut Despite Partner’s Reported Financial Woes
(indieWIRE/ 12.12.00) — Reports that StreamSearch.com is closing its doors
raised questions yesterday about the fate of the inaugural Sundance Online
Film Festival — the two organizations announced a partnership on the
project back when it was unveiled earlier this year. Both Sundance and
StreamSearch.com set the record straight late yesterday (Monday), confirming
that the show will go on.
Festival spokesman RJ Millard indicated that the project will take place
as planned and StreamSearch.com CEO/Founder and President Robert Shambro
told indieWIRE that the online fest will “continue as planned.” A fuller
statement on the subject is expected to be announced today and the lineup
for the Festival is due to be unveiled as planned later this week.
As for the fate of StreamSearch.com, the self-described “remote control of
the Web,” Shambro promised to provide additional insight in a conversation
today. Finally, a StreamSearch.com attorney disputed media reports that
StreamSearch.com is dead, summoning Mark Twain he referred to the author’s
famous note to the New York Journal, “The report of my death was an
exaggeration.” [Eugene Hernandez]
>> “Crouching Tiger” Unleashes Box Office Dragon; Little “Horses” That Could
(indieWIRE/ 12.12.00) — Ang Lee‘s martial arts extravaganza “Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon” delivered a mighty blow at the box office over the
weekend. The festival crowd-pleaser and critical favorite had the biggest
opening of a foreign-language film ever.
Opening in 16 theaters (11 in Canada, 5 in New York), the Sony Pictures
Classics film brought in a total of $663,205 ($329,358 on 5 screens in New
York), with a per-theater U.S. average of $65,872. The achievement was noted
by Sony Classics Co-President Tom Bernard and box-office figures obtained by
indieWIRE. Compared to past limited engagement foreign releases like
Miramax‘s “Life is Beautiful,” which garnered $118,920 on 6 screens when it
opened in October of 1998, or Sony Classics’ 1999 hit, “All About My
Mother,” which received $89,515 opening on 2 screens, “Crouching Tiger”
still comes out on top.
“It’s an astounding number,” says Exhibitor Relations President Paul
Dergarabedian, whose box office tracking company provided the above numbers.
“It could end up being the biggest grossing foreign film of all time,” he
added. “This is the kind of the film that could generate the word of mouth
and Oscar buzz that could put it over the top in terms of blockbuster-type
The only foreign film that came close to “Crouching Tiger’s” weekend
numbers (in terms of per screen average), according to Exhibitor Relations,
was Miramax’s 2-theater opening of Luis Bunuel‘s “Belle de Jour” reissue,
which averaged just about $65,000 per screen.
While Sony Classics continues its plan of attack with “Crouching Tiger”
this winter, planning to go to 100 additional screens on Dec. 22, and then
to 300 screens on Jan. 12, there is another foreign film continuing its own
slow and steady pace to box office achievement.
Bahman Ghobadi‘s “A Time for Drunken Horses,” Iran’s entry for Oscar
consideration, has made $477,152 since its Oct. 27 release as part of the
Shooting Gallery‘s film series, beating out similarly-timed,
critically-lauded foreign releases like “Venus Beauty Institute” (France),
“Ratcatcher” (UK) and “Suzhou River” (China).
The most successful film of the Shooting Gallery’s fall series, the harsh
film about a Kurdish boy and his siblings trying to survive on the Iran
border, has performed consistently, even increasingly steadily in its box
office numbers for four straight weeks. Shooting Gallery Films President
Eamonn Bowles says the film will ultimately break a million dollars, hoping
to keep the film in 20 to 25 theaters, “to still be strong for Academy
nomination.” [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Ivory’s “Golden Bowl” to Open Palm Springs Fest
(indieWIRE/ 12.12.00) — James Ivory‘s “The Golden Bowl,” based on Henry James‘ novel of unrequited love, intrigue and passion set in Victorian
England, will open the 12th Annual Nortel Networks Palm Springs
International Film Festival January 11, 2001. Anjelica Huston, Uma Thurman, and Nick Nolte are part of the star studded cast appearing in the picture. The film is part of the Festival’s “Gala Screenings” series which organizers
describe as “ten prestigious films” selected to screen during the 12 day
event. Others scheduled are Live Ullmann‘s “Faithless,” “Pollock” by Ed Harris and “Canone Inverso” by Ricky Tognazzi.
Festival executive director, Denis Pregnolato, commented in a prepared
statement, “Each year, our programmers carefully review festival entries and
select a small group of outstanding films that clearly exude a special
quality, setting them apart from the rest” Past Gala Screenings have
included Giuseppe Tornatore‘s “Cinema Paradiso” (1990), Reis Wargnier‘s “Indochine” (1993), and “Life Is Beautiful” (1999) by Roberto Benigni. [Brian Brooks]