“It’s extraordinary what happened with this little movie,” filmmaker Max Mayer commented last night, welcoming the nice selection of glitterati who turned up for a New York screening of the Fox Searchlight romantic comedy, “Adam,” hosted by the Cinema Society and Brooks Brothers. They celebrated the movie on the eve of today’s debut in U.S. theaters. “Walking into the Eccles Theater [at Sundance this year] with 1,400 people, we were nervous and wondered how the audience would react, but within five minutes, we could see the audience was into it – they were taking that ride.” That successful first Sundance screening lead to an immediate Searchlight deal. A rare Sundance fairly tale.
“Adam,” from TV director Max Mayer, is a charming feature revolving around Adam (played by a talented Hugh Dancy), a lonely man with Asperger’s Syndrome who recently lost his father, and soon after develops a relationship with his new neighbor Beth (played maginificently by Rose Byrne). Introducing the film, he praised Searchlight and the actors in his film, calling Byrne’s performance “energetic and spontaneous.”
As is typical with film premieres, the 7:30 start time was about a half hour late as the film’s cast, including Byrne and Dancy made their way across the step and repeat for photographers. Other notables turned up, including Dancy’s fiancee, actress Claire Danes, fellow cast members Amy Irving and Frankie Faison, as well as Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley in addition to Olympia Dukakis, Zac Posen, Paul Haggis, designer Rachel Roy, director John Cameron Mitchell, CNN’s Alina Cho and Bobby Kennedy III, among others.
“I’m part of a team who put this together,” offered Searchlight co-president Steve Gilula, deflecting praise as a “visionary,” during pre-screening introductions. “My colleagues and I saw this terrific film back in Sundance.” While introducing Mayer, Gilula added, “It’s always great to have true visionary filmmakers, and despite what people say, independent film is alive and well…”
The event’s organizer, Andrew Saffir, founder of the Cinema Society, is a guru for such New York events. Attending one can seem akin to a 21st century version of Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan,” with the young, good looking and privileged mixing together with celebs and filmmakers (and a few journalists).
“I feel so lucky to have a wonderful group of actors and filmmakers here tonight,” Saffir said. After the screening, he mixed among the invitees on the roof of the Gramercy Park Hotel. Guests mostly dressed up for the occasion, as usual for Saffir’s events, though the air conditioning in the tony venue was no match for the crowd and the high humidity. Still, there was plenty of Grey Goose, prosecco and food to go around, and the party lasted past midnight.
Back to “Adam,” indieWIRE chatted up Hugh Dancy on the Gramercy roof. He called “Adam” a small film that always seemed to overreach its expectations, citing its screening at Sundance and the immediate interest of Fox Searchlight. Dancy and the crew shot the project over 25 days in December, 2007. He praised Mayer, who also wrote the script, saying after reading it, he immediately signed on to be part of the film.
Speaking with Andrew Herwitz, whose Film Sales Company represented the movie in January at Sundance, the film sales vet said that the Sundance launch couldn’t have worked out better. “All the key people from Fox Searchlight were there and they immediately asked me to take it off the market right afterward.” Later, Gilula posed for a group photo with his Searchlight team. They were bidding a farewell to longtime PR exec James Finn who is joining Fox’s DVD group in Los Angeles and welcoming the arrival of in New York of new VP of national publicity Barry Dale Johnson, who recently moved to the city from IDPR in Los Angeles.
“It’s a small movie that we loved, but it will still be a challenge,” Gilula told iW Tuesday night at the party. He went on to praise Mayer and the cast for working hard to promote “Adam,” saying they had traveled with the film to 12 cities ahead of its theatrical release. “Adam” opens today in New York at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza as well as Los Angeles at the Landmark Westside Pavilion and Pacific Arclight Hollywood, followed by a nationwide release August 28th.