DAILY NEWS: Dispatch from Karlovy Vary; Specialty Weekend Box Office
by Eugene Hernandez and Matthew Ross/indieWIRE
>> ON THE SCENE: East of West On Display in Karlovy Vary
(indieWIRE: 07.09.02) — The 37th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
reached its halfway mark yesterday, having thus far lived up to its
reputation as an A-grade event whose mellow spa town vibe offers a welcome
counterbalance to the frenzy of Cannes, Berlin, and Rotterdam.
Karlovy Vary is the highest profile festival in Central and Eastern Europe,
with an A-grade rating from the International Federation of Film Producers
Associations (FIAPF), and the organizers have continued to use the
opportunity to tout regional filmmaking. In addition to the 16-film Czech
cinema section, this year also features a sidebar titled “East is West,”
which screens work from all over of the former socialist bloc, including the
former Yugoslavia, Russia, and Poland as well as lesser known filmmaking
scenes of Tajikstan and Kazakstan, among others.
The rise of the Czech Republic and other former bloc countries as the new
unofficial capital of U.S. runaway production has also been well-publicized
at this year’s fest. A gigantic tapestry of a sword-wielding Wesley Snipes
hangs just outside the Hotel Thermal, site of festival headquarters as well
as five of the 13 screening halls. The poster, of course, is for New Line‘s
“Blade II,” (directed by Guillermo del Toro) which was shot in Prague and is screening in the Horizons sidebar. Sean Connery, who will be in Karlovy Vary
this year to receive this year’s Crystal Globe award for his lifetime
contribution to cinema, will be returning to Prague after the festival to
star as Allan Quartermain in Fox‘s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” directed by Stephen Norrington. Other recent U.S. productions shot in the Czech Republic include Sony‘s “XXX” and Disney‘s “Shanghai Knights.”
Despite the decidedly non-commercial atmosphere as well as the absence of an
official market, festival organizers have stepped up efforts to coordinate
business and promote the Central/Eastern film scene. This year, the festival
introduced a film industry liaison office to help connect sales reps with
distributors. In addition, the Czech Audiovisual Producers Association (APA)
will announce the creation of a new Czech Film Center at a press conference
here on July 11. The center, which will begin operations in September, will
serve the basic functions of traditional national film center but a with
slightly smaller scope.
The Czech Film Center will take over some of the activities which APA has
been handling so far, like publishing the annual catalog of Czech films and
the annual Czech film guide and organizing events related to the Czech film
section at Karlovy. [Matthew Ross in Karlovy Vary]
>> Magnolia Celebrates “Read My Lips” NYC Opening
(indieWIRE: 07.09.02) — Magnolia Pictures nabbed solid numbers at the box
office this weekend, opening Jacques Audiard‘s “Read My Lips” at the Paris Theater in New York and earning more than $27,000. The debut, at a venue
which is historically a great theater for foreign-language films, launches
the movie before it heads to Chicago on July 19th and expands in New York
City on the 26th.
“We were originally intending to go on August 9th,” Magnolia’s Eamonn Bowles
told indieWIRE yesterday, “But when The Paris, which is possibly the highest
grossing screen for foreign language films in the country was made available
on July 5th, we jumped at it.”
[indieWIRE is publishing an interview with “Read My Lips” director Jacques
Audiard in today’s edition.]
In other Magnolia news, the young distributor saw its “Late Marriage” inch
closer to the million dollar mark (it should clear that hurdle next week).
The film earned $118,477 on 35 screens, for a new total of $881,983.
ThinkFilm saw its “Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” pass the million dollar
mark this weekend, the film earned about $185,000 over the weekend on 97
Lot 47‘s “The Fast Runner” (Atanarjuat) grossed $186,708 on 37 screens this
weekend, it is now well past the million mark with a total of $1,677,564,
staying strong with a per screen average over $5,000. Also this weekend,
IDP opened “Me Without You” on one screen in New York City, earning about $13,000 in its single showing in Manhattan.
Among other alternatives to the summer blockbuster season, Lions Gate has
something to celebrate with its continuing release of Nicole Holofcener‘s
“Lovely and Amazing.” Now open in 11 theaters, the film has hit a total of
$281,609, earning more than $110,000 over the three-day weekend. It boasted
a strong per screen average of more than $10,000.
Finally, IFC Films‘ “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is eyeing the $25 million
mark. It earned more than $2.5 million over the weekend for a new total of
$23,576,174. [Eugene Hernandez]