DAILY NEWS: Paramount and Lions Gate Capture a "Narc," Urman and ThinkFilm Unleash "World Traveler," Philly Fest Winners and Miramax' New Golden Boy
with articles by Eugene Hernandez, Matthew Ross, Brian Brooks and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE
>> Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Films Partner on "Narc"
(indieWIRE/04.19.02) -- Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Films have partnered in a deal to distribute "Narc," the new film from "Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane" director Joe Carnahan. A selection at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, the police thriller stars Jason Patric and Ray Liotta and was produced by Michelle Grace's Tiara Blu Films and Jules Nasso. David Glasser and Andreas Klein's Splendid Pictures financed and executive produced the film with Adam Stone. Cruise/Wagner Productions, the production company run by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, have also signed on as executive producers.
"We have been excited about 'Narc' since we first saw the script and Joe
Carnahan's work almost a year-and-a-half ago," said Lions Gate Entertainment
vice-chairman Michael Burns in a prepared statement. "We're delighted to
expand our relationship with Paramount Pictures as they, along with
Cruise/Wagner, will help fulfill the film's potential. We are very enthused
about 'Narc's' provocative material, cutting-edge creative talent, A-list
production team and outstanding critical and commercial potential."
Paramount Pictures will handle all marketing and distribution for "Narc,"
slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2002. [Matthew Ross]
>> Finding Films In The Margins, ThinkFilm's Mark Urman Touts "World Traveler"
(indieWIRE/04.19.02) -- ThinkFilm's Mark Urman glad-handed guests in the
lobby of the Chelsea West Cinema as they arrived for Monday night's New York
premiere of "World Traveler." The film marks the outfit's first big
release, following the recent launch of its debut film, "Time Out."
While "Time Out" was a critical homerun that has grossed about $100,000 thus
far, "World Traveler" has divided critics. The movie was stung by a
pre-September 11 Toronto Film Festival screening that resulted in bad
word-of-mouth for the new Bart Freundlich film, starring Billy Crudup and Julianne Moore. The movie went on to Sundance where it was one of three ThinkFilm movies that screened at the fest (the other two were "The
Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" and "Time Out"). It fared better there, but
it remains a film that polarizes audiences.
Early in "World Traveler," Billy Crudup's character performs what can only
be called a despicable act, abandoning his wife and young son before
embarking on a cross-country journey. The would-be mid-life crisis of a
handsome white man is not a storyline that engenders much sympathy. That
said, with Crudup as the troubled villain, beautiful American vistas and
imagery from Freundlich and cinematographer Terry Stacey, and a solid
soundtrack, the movie becomes quite compelling.
While the Village Voice trashed the film this week, the New York Observer
weighed in by calling it a "profound, honest, superbly made, emotionally
gripping, moment-by-moment road movie." The New Yorker was much less
"In am not in the business of acquiring films that are for everybody," Urman
told indieWIRE in a conversation earlier this week. "It's not what we are
supposed to be doing," he continued.
Releasing a movie that stars Billy Crudup in an unlikable starring role is
not new for Urman. He faced a similar situation with "Jesus' Son," Alison
Maclean's movie that he released at Lions Gate. A self-proclaimed Crudup
fan, Urman admitted, "We marched into this fully prepared -- believing that
Billy Crudup is so amazing and so charming, (he) forces you to forgive the
unforgivable." Concluding he added, "We know exactly what we have, no aspect
of this has been either troubling or disappointing."
Urman has a history of taking on difficult projects; while at Lions Gate,
his track record included such films as "Affliction," "American Psycho,"
"Buffalo 66," "Gods and Monsters," and "Dogma."
"Independent or specialized films (are) supposed to harness a particular
audience of a particular size," Urman explained, "My definition of success
does not have to be the same as everyone else's."
The exec will undoubtedly have his hands full later this year when he
unveils Gus Van Sant's "Gerry." A movie that few buyers cheered about at
Sundance (although indieWIRE touted it as "spellbinding"), will no doubt
rattle a few cages. Urman calls it a movie that "can be launched on the
basis of legitimate controversy." It is by all accounts an aesthetically
challenging movie, shot on video, featuring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck in roles where they barely speak.
Few industry colleagues would respond with their thoughts on the film back
at Sundance, recalled Urman. "It is a film that literally had me vibrating
with what it could do for us and I could do for it," he offered. When
polling biz folks, Urman was met with the same response that followed the
film in many circles at Sundance: "it isn't commercial." Urman would
counter, "But I asked if you liked it."
Recalling the reactions earlier this week, he explained that once ThinkFilm
announced the acquisition of the picture, many people admitted that they did
appreciate the film. "Too bad," Urman explained, "I got it." [Eugene
GET PHOTOS FROM THIS WEEK's "World Traveler" premiere at indieWIRE.com
>> Expanded Dates, Higher Attendance and Announced Winners from Philadelphia
(indieWIRE: 04.19.02) -- The Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema announced
its winners yesterday with French director Erick Assous taking the best
feature film prize with "Very Opposite Sexes" and best director going to
Yugoslav Darko Bajic for "War Live." The 11th annual event in the City of
Brotherly Love dodged a trend by many cash-strapped festivals by expanding
its dates by adding three extra days to the 15-day event, which also saw
attendance expand by 42 percent this year. Various Philly neighborhoods
hosted screenings for the festival which opened April 4th with Max. L.
Raab's "Strut," a film about south Philadelphia dancers who compete annually
on New Year's Day in an eccentric street dance party. The local film also
took the programmers' grand prize award.
Inuit-language feature, "The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)" (Canada), by
Zacharias Kunuk won the audience award for best feature film, while Daniel
B. Gold and Judity Helfand won the audience award for best documentary.
"Atanarjuat" has received numerous awards in fests worldwide including
Cannes and Toronto. Both films were among the top 10 films ranked by
audience ballots, with "Vinyl" in number one and "Atanarjuat" at number
three. Maritn Scorsese's doc, "My Voyage to Italy" was at number two.
Richard Murray's hip-hop crime thriller, "Snipes" won best feature in the
Philadelphia CityPaper Festival of Independents section, which showcases
local filmmakers, while "Heaven's Crossroads" by Kimi Takesue received best documentary short.
In other festival highlights, the festival, produced by the Philadelphia
Film Society and presented by TLA Entertainment Group and International House, honored director John Sayles with a four-film retrospective and the American Independents Award. Ken Russell was also on-hand for the North American premiere of his film, "The Fall of the Louse of Usher" and was the recipient of the TLA Video Phantasmagoria award. The fest ends tonight following screenings of the event's highlights. [Brian Brooks]
>> The Weinstein's Latest Discovery: Short Filmmaker's Deal Still Seems "Kind of Weird"
(indieWIRE: 04.19.02) -- By now, most of the film world's tongues are
wagging in excitement (or jealousy) about the 28-year-old wiz kid whose
$18,000 student film landed him a three-picture deal with Dimension Films.
As Variety reported on Wednesday, Florida State University Film School
graduate Eduardo Rodriguez found himself pursued by Miramax' Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein after a screening of his short horror film
"Daughter" at a Directors Guild of America screening. (Lawyer Carlos
Goodman sent the film to Dimension co-presidents Andrew Rona and Brad
Weston, who brought the film to Weinstein's attention).
Rodriguez, currently camped out in a friend's L.A. apartment, says the
experience still seems very surreal. "No one can actually believe that all
of this is happening, " he told indieWIRE. "It feels like one of those
stories you read about happening to somebody else, not to me."
Rodriguez started work on the 15-minute, 35mm short "Daughter" in January
2001 (it was his thesis at FSU, where he received his M.F.A. in August
of last year). It won the best student short film award at Cinequest 2002
earlier this year. It also screened at festivals in Ft. Lauderdale, Taos,
and Cleveland, among many others.
His first project for Miramax will be "Symbiosis," a thriller that he
cowrote. Rodriguez already made a 10-minute 16mm short version of the film
in 2000, which he also screened for Weinstein. The director told indieWIRE
that the film is about a deserted town where a group of women feed
unsuspecting victims to supernatural creatures in exchange for eternal
youth. Rodriguez calls it "a horror movie but it's not a very nice story."
He says his brand of horror films are inspired by decades-old classics like
"The Shining," "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Exorcist." He explained,
"[Today's horror movies] are not bad anymore, the stories are cute, people
are happy at the end. In the '70s, they were more disturbing stories and you
can feel the horror. Those are the kind of movies that I like."
Since he sealed the deal with Weinstein on March 15 over lunch at New York's
Tribeca Grill, Rodriguez says he has had limited contact with the mogul.
He has mainly been keeping in touch with the Miramax and Dimension
staffers based in L.A., although Weinstein did call once to check in.
Rodriguez says he hopes to start shooting "Symbiosis" in 2003, and is
currently evaluating writers to help with a second draft of the screenplay.
Eduardo Rodriguez didn't completely surface out of nowhere -- in his native
Venezuela, he studied communications and was an editor for commercials and
TV shows. Before moving to Florida for his master's, he had been a
screenwriter for a Venezuelan TV show. After making several shorts during
film school, he had been doing sound design for a feature film, "Vampire
Rock," shooting in Tallahassee.
He says he's glad that he stuck to his first passion, horror films, even if
they aren't a film school favorite. "Everyone does comedies or dramas, I
never even thought this was going to be my thesis film," he recalled. "I
never even expected to get a thesis film, not to mention a three-picture
deal with Dimension."
In addition to that deal, he may also have some new high-profile fans in
Hollywood -- Robert Rodriguez and Clive Barker have expressed interest in seeing "Daughter." "Everything seems kind of weird," he admitted yesterday.
But he does think that he can swing his own abode in L.A. now. [Wendy
[For more information or to view the "Daughter" trailer, visit: