DAILY NEWS: Sundance 2003 Slate and Weekend Box Office
by Eugene Hernandez, Matthew Ross and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> The Waiting is Over as Sundance Unveils First Group of 2003 Festival Films
(indieWIRE: 12.03.02) -- The countdown to Park City 2003 kicked off in
earnest yesterday as the Sundance Institute announced portions of the lineup
for the 2003 Sundance Film Festival (the lists are available now in their
entirety on indieWIRE.com). Set for January 16 - 26, the festival will offer
approximately 120 features this year. Organizers unveiled lists for the
dramatic and documentary sections, as well as films set to screen in the
American Spectrum and American Showcase sections. To be unveiled later
today (Tuesday) are the Premiere, Park City at Midnight, World Cinema, and
new World Documentary sections (those lists will be posted on indieWIRE.com
at 7 p.m. ET this evening). The shorts lineup will be released next week.
Feature submissions were up sharply this year, as programmers received 2,012
films for consideration (up from 1,740 last year). A total of 832 dramatic
features were sent in for the 2003 fest, up from 750 last year (and on par
with the 860 film plateau received the previous year). In the doc category,
the numbers continue to grow. There were 537 submissions for the competition,
up from 440 last year. More numbers will be included in tomorrow's report.
The 2003 Dramatic Competition section features a number of films from
top Indiewood producers. Sony Pictures Classics will make a rare
competition showing with "All the Real Girls," writer-director David Gordon
Green's follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut "George Washington."
Killer Films will represent with two co-productions: Todd Graff's "Camp," a summer camp musical comedy co-produced by IFC Films, and Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's "Party Monster," which stars Macualay Culkin as the infamous real-life New York club kid-turned-killer Michael Alig. "Party Monster" was co-produced by Ed Pressman and John Schmidt's ContentFilm, which makes a second appearance in the competition line-up with Wayne Kramer's "The Cooler," a story about an Ivy League-educated man who's hired by the mob to re-vamp its casino operations. The film stars William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin.
Top New York DV outfit InDigEnt will return to Sundance following its
triumphant 2002 with Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April," a story about a
family's Thanksgiving dinner starring Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, and the
ubiquitous Patricia Clarkson. From the former Good Machine comes "American Splendor" by Shari Springer and Robert Pulcini ("The Last Days of Chasens"). That film, set to air on HBO, illustrates the life of notable comic book figure Harvey Pekar. Other competition selections include "The Technical Writer," the new film from Scott Saunders, who in 1998 won the Someone to Watch prize at the Independent Spirit Awards for his film "The Headhunter's Sister," and "The Mudge Boy," the debut feature from writer-director Michael Burke, who in 1999 took home numerous prizes (including a Sundance special jury prize) for his short film "Fishbelly White." His film is produced in part by actor and director Stanley Tucci.
In the documentary competition, a number of seasoned non-fiction filmmakers
are represented. Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") will bring his acclaimed
"Stevie" (acquired by Lions Gate at the Toronto Film Festival), a look at the life of troubled man who the filmmaker once mentored, while Stanley
Nelson ("The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords") presents "The Murder of Emmett Till," an examination of the 1955 Southern murder of a young black boy. Robb Moss explores the lives of five river guides over several decades
in "The Same River Twice." Among the filmmaking newcomers is Andrew
Jarecki, best known to cinephiles as the "Moviefone guy." Jarecki directed
"Capturing the Friedmans," a look at a family indicted of sex crimes against
children. Also in competition are filmmakers Sam Green and Bill Siegel with their long-in-the-works "The Weather Underground," a doc about the famed
radical activists. Finally, the Independent Film Channel will unveil its major
survey of 1970s filmmaking, "A Decade Under the Influence" by Richard La
Gravenese and the late Ted Demme. Told through interviews with countless
filmmakers who shaped the decade, the doc will screen in a shorter version
that will debut in theaters next year. A longer three-part series will air
on IFC in August, while a DVD and book will round out the package.
The six-film American Showcase section, which screens higher-profile work
from established filmmakers (or well-known first-timers), includes several
titles that are already well into their festival run. Lisa Cholodenko's
"Laurel Canyon," the follow-up to her 1997 Sundance award-winner "High Art," screened in the Director's Fortnight at Cannes and in Toronto this year (it
will be released next year by Sony Classics); "Raising Victor Vargas," the
debut feature from Sundance darling Peter Sollett (who won the prize for
best short in 1999 with "Five Feet High and Rising"), screened in Cannes' Un
Certain Regard program and in Toronto (it will be released by Samuel
Goldwyn/Fireworks next spring); Matt Dillon's directorial debut "City of
Ghosts," a crime movie set in Cambodia, also screened at Toronto (it will be
released by United Artists). The Showcase section also includes a controversial
hit from Toronto 2001: Gregor Jordan's "Buffalo Soldiers." The Good Machine project, which tells the stories of corrupt U.S. soldiers stationed in West
Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, was picked up by Miramax after its
screening on September 10, 2001 and then quickly shelved after the terrorist
attacks. Rounding out the Showcase are two directorial debuts: Salma Hayek's
"The Maldonado Miracle" from Showtime and "Normal," by acclaimed television writer Jane Anderson, from HBO.
Eleven films will screen in this year's American Spectrum program. Joe
Maggio, whose "Virgil Bliss" screened at Slamdance 2001 and subsequently enjoyed a theatrical release this year, will return to Park City with "Milk
and Honey," a film about the lives of strangers who meet over the course of
one night in New York. Jennifer Dworkin will screen "Love and Diane," the
only U.S. documentary selected for the 2002 New York Film Festival. "Happy
Texas" director Mark Illsley will return to Sundance with "Bookies," which stars Nick Stahl, Johnny Galecki, and Lukas Haas as small-time college bookies who get involved with the mafia. Other Spectrum selections include
"Civil Brand," a tale about black women in prison by well-known TV director
Neema Barnette, and "Born Rich," a documentary about filthy rich New York socialites by Johnson & Johnson scion Jamie Johnson. [Eugene Hernandez
and Matthew Ross]
[The remainder of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival feature lineup will be
announced tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET on indieWIRE.com. We will also publish
comments from our conversation yesterday with Sundance's Geoff Gilmore
and John Cooper.]
SUNDANCE 2003 LINEUPS:
>> Noyce Scores with Two Releases while Spanish-Language Films Continue to Cash In
(indieWIRE: 12.03.02) -- Theaters in New York and L.A. screened two films by
Australian director Phillip Noyce over the weekend, as Miramax opened his latest "Rabbit-Proof Fence" in nine theaters earning $88,352 over the
weekend beginning Friday. That represents a a $9,817 per-screen average.
The New York-based distributor also concluded a two-week Academy qualifying
run of Noyce's controversial "The Quiet American" starring Sir Michael
Caine, grossing $111,193 on six screens for a still impressive $18,532
per-screen average in the film's third week, with a $271,648 cume.
Newspapers in the U.S. and overseas reported this week that "The Quiet
American" novelist Graham Greene has been investigated by the U.S.
government for more than 40 years for his alleged anti-American bias.
Pedro Almodovar's latest reigned brightly in New York going into its second
Friday to Sunday weekend. "Hable con Ella" (Talk to Her) took in $93,223 on
two Manhattan screens for the Sony Pictures Classics release, bringing the
total to $266,331 with a sky-high per-screen average of $46,611. Meanwhile,
fellow Spanish-language drama "El Crimen del Padre Amaro" (The Crime of
Father Amaro) went into its third weekend (Friday through Sunday) earning
the Samuel Goldwyn film $702,665 on 108 screens for a $6,506 per-screen
average and a new total of more than $2.5 million.
"Personal Velocity," the story of three women directed by Rebecca Miller
took in $46,221 on five screens for its second three-day weekend stint, for
a total of $95,859. The United Artists release had a $9,244 per-screen
average. [Brian Brooks]