Director Richard Linklater needs a hit. The indie filmmaking icon has been in the cinematic wilderness for a while following a trifecta of films — “Fast Food Nation,” “A Scanner Darkly” and “Me And Orson Welles” — that didn’t play to many people at all and came and went from theaters in the blink of an eye. However his latest effort, the black comedy “Bernie,” certainly has the ingredients to get the director back on the radar. Starring “School Of Rock” star Jack Black and “Dazed & Confused” thesp Matthew McConaughey, the story centers on the titular character (Black), a beloved mortician in small Texas town who befriends a mean old widow (Shirley MacLaine) and commits a horrific crime. The film premiered last month at the Los Angeles Film Festival to largely strong reviews, including one from us that noted the film has the “slow burn of a crime thriller” in telling its odd, messy (and true) tale.
Well, nearly a month after it first screened, upstart theatrical film distributor Millennium Entertainment has snatched up the rights, which has us slightly worried. Mostly known as a DVD distributor, the shingle made its first foray into theatrical releasing with David Schwimmer‘s “Trust” earlier this year which at its highest point was on a whopping 28 screens. Hmm. And while Black and McConaughey could certainly make it easier to get that screen count up over that of Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, we’re concerned that Millennium is still new to a game that already has many established players. Moreover, the film itself is a difficult sell, a comedy about murder that needs a smart campaign to convey its tone and convince people to check out something a little off the beaten path.
No release date has been set just yet, but if there is a silver lining it’s that Millennium are ramping up their theatrical business with the drama “Puncture” starring Chris Evans, the indie “Little Birds” with Juno Temple and most notably the thriller “Trespass” with Nic Cage and Nicole Kidman all on the horizon. As they began to turn those gears we hope those screen counts go up and marketing budgets increase. We’d hate for yet another Linklater film to fall through the cracks. [Variety]