“It’s quite hard to look up at yourself in such an intense way,” Vogue editor Anna Wintour had said after the Sundance premiere of R.J. Cutler’s Wintour-centered doc “The September Issue.” This fall, Wintour is going to have get used to audiences around the world doing just that. “September,” financed by A&E IndieFilms and being distributed through Roadside Attractions, has set a plan for release. The film will open in New York on August 28th and expand in the New York area on September 4th. The following week, it will open in the top 15 markets on September 11th.
“Fall is fashion’s moment every year,” Cutler told indieWIRE today. “I think everybody did feel that releasing it at the the end of the summer was hopefully gonna be a good strategic time for us. We’ll also get a head start as people are getting ready to go back to their non-summer lives.”
Cutler said he’s “very eager to tap into the traditional documentary film audience,” but that the film also has a potentially wider audience. “Not just fans of fashion documentaries,” he said, “but people who have passion about fashion industry, and curiosity about Vogue and Anna Wintour.”
Fashion documentaries have been having a good year. This past March, Matt Tyrnauer’s doc “Valentino: The Last Emperor” – which follows the closing act of fashion icon Valentino’s celebrated career – began a hugely successful run, and continues to pull in per-theater-averages that hover around $2,000 three months later.
“We’re thrilled for Matt and and everybody,” Cutler said of “Valentino.” “It’s awesome, and it only gives me more confidence that people are going to go to our film. The fan base is there. The question for us is.. can we take it even further and do even more? Is there a deeper vein to tap into by virtue of the fact that the subject is an object of such passionate curiousity – not only all over [the U.S.] but all over the world.”
Wintour’s fame outside the U.S. seems to have helped “September” strike up a rather remarkable batch of sales around the globe. “When we went to Sundance,” Cutler said, “people said that the one thing you had to brace yourself for is that there won’t be sales overseas. But now we’re going everywhere but China.”
To be precise, the film has sold to North America, the United Kingdom, Latin America, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Iceland, Japan, Greece, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Israel, Thailand and, just recently, Russia. Most impressive is that these sales – with advances well over $1 million – occurred without having television rights available to the film (A&E had already reserved them).
“This is 2009,” Cutler said. “Advances are supposed to be limited, so we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to do this. And we did that without having the television rights available to the film. I said to Anna, ‘we sold in Iceland and Thailand.’ Maybe you should do a world tour…”
Cutler couldn’t confirm how much press Wintour would actually be doing for the film, but noted she’s a huge supporter of “September,” and he expects that she will “depending on the opportunity.” “We’re hopeful that as key opportunitues arrive that we’ll make things work,” he said. “But part of our strategy – and it’s very important – is that if you really wanna see Anna Wintour – to meet the sunglasses as it were – you gotta see the film.”