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DAILY NEWS: IFP Showcases Narratives; Considering the Success of "Greek Wedding"

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire August 29, 2002 at 2:0AM

DAILY NEWS: IFP Showcases Narratives; Considering the Success of "Greek Wedding"by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE>> IFP Market Adds Creates Five Film Showcase
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DAILY NEWS: IFP Showcases Narratives; Considering the Success of "Greek Wedding"



by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE


>> IFP Market Adds Creates Five Film Showcase

(indieWIRE: 08.29.02) -- In a late change to its line-up, organizers of the
IFP Market have decided that five narrative works-in-progress will be screened
in their entirety. The special five-film showcase will give filmmakers the
opportunity to show a project in its entirety as a rough or fine cut. Other
works-in-progress are given a 30-minute window for a screening and pitch.

Selected for the special showcase are Bret Carr's "2 Birds with 1 Stallone --
Story of Lou Benedetti
" (which is a late addition to the section), Tod
Harrison
's "The Big Bend," Elizabeth Dimon's "Private Property," Aion
Velie
's "Taft," and Ghazi Albuliwi's "West Bank Brooklyn."

"We were really impressed with the quality of the work submitted, and felt
strongly that several of the projects would greatly benefit from a
lengthier presentation," commented IFP/New York executive director Michelle
Byrd
in a statement to indieWIRE.

The IFP Market, with a primary focus on works-in-progress and projects in
development, runs September 27 to October 4 in New York City. [Eugene
Hernandez]


>> "Greek Wedding" Eyeing Top Box Office Slot On Final Weekend of Summer

(indieWIRE: 08.29.02) -- As the traditional final weekend of summer
approaches, all eyes are on the official sleeper hit of 2002, "My Big
Fat Greek Wedding
." IFC Films' confirmed yesterday that it would bump
the release up to 1,619 screens for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.
The film is poised to land at or near the top of the weekend box office
chart come Tuesday.

As smaller, edgier films from specialty divisions and independent
distributors fought to find an audience this summer, "My Big Fat Greek
Wedding" emerged as a kinder, gentler indie film for all ages. Hardly
challenging, but undeniably entertaining, the film's success still has
many scratching their heads.

Articles in USA Today, the New York Times and other publications this week are touting the
strength of the film, which is now approaching its 20th week in release.
With no major Hollywood competition and more than 1,600 screens, the
film is expected to maintain its stable per screen average and deliver
grosses in the neighborhood of $10 - $11 million for the long weekend
as it tops a $75 million total by Tuesday. It will probably land at
number 2, only eclipsed by "Signs" at the weekend box office, according
to box office analysts. This is remarkable, given that the film opened
quietly on about 100 screens in mid-April; it will now no doubt top
$100 million before it is finished.

"The September slate does not look too promising so 'Wedding' could
remain a resident of the Top 5 for some time to come," analyst Gitesh
Pandya
of BoxOfficeGuru.com told indieWIRE yesterday.

"'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' will at least end up as the second-highest
grossing indie of all time behind 'The Blair Witch Project's'
$140,539,099 and has a shot at topping it," analyst Brandon Gray of
BoxOfficeMojo.com told indieWIRE yesterday.

While audiences have embraced "Greek Wedding" since its early runs,
industry observers were slow to catch on. Indeed, few in the indie
community have even seen the picture.

In a Variety review of the movie back in April, critic Dennis Harvey
noted that the film's performance would be hampered by negative reviews,
writing, "This genial comedy might achieve sleeper legs wherever there's
a concentrated population of Greek-heritage viewers."

indieWIRE's own industry insider, Joe Leydon, touted the increasing
success of "Greek Wedding" in a July analysis of potential summer
indie "tentpole" pictures, noting, "This summer, IFC's shrewdly
marketed "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is shaping up as something even
bigger than a tentpole -- practically an entire circus." Yet echoing
the feeling of many in the film community, he offered, "Naturally,
some indie purists will snort derisively at such news, and complain
that 'Greek Wedding' isn't a 'real' indie movie. But to make such
arbitrary distinctions is (a) fatuously shortsighted, if not
criminally smug, and, worse, (b) disingenuously heedless of what
a tentpole means in the world of indies."

"I think the main reason why 'Wedding' has become such a success
is that it's an ethnic comedy that people of all backgrounds can
relate to," Pandya told indieWIRE, while Gray noted the strength
of wedding pictures. "Weddings have always been an inherently popular
subject matter for movies, the average wide release grossing over
$60 million over the past 20 years."

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" has transcended the average thanks to
through-the-roof word-of-mouth and the universal appeal of its
culture clash theme," Gray concluded.

And in the end, as with the success of "The Blair Witch Project,"
an indie film was able to cleverly fill a gap that Hollywood
couldn't. With all of the big-budget, effects-driven would-be
Hollywood blockbusters this summer, the studios were not able to
give audiences a romantic comedy.

"That was a genre the major studios really dropped the ball on
this season," offered box-office analyst Brandon Gray.
[Eugene Hernandez]

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