IFC Films is bringing its latest horror film, “Relic,” exclusively to drive-in theaters for a week beginning July 3, ahead of the movie’s wider release in traditional theaters and VOD on July 10. The move comes as drive-ins are in need of films for the typically busy holiday weekend, which now has no major releases after the Russell Crowe-starring “Unhinged” was pushed to July 10.
“Relic” is the feature debut of Australian-Japanese writer, director, and producer Natalie Erika James, named by IndieWire as one of this year’s 20 rising women directors. Starring Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin, IFC Midnight acquired the film after it premiered at Sundance 2020 to raves. It currently has a 100 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Mortimer plays a woman whose elderly mother (Nevin) mysteriously disappears, so she takes her daughter (Heathcote) to their dilapidated country home, where they discover clues of the matriarch’s increasing dementia. The mother soon returns, but as a much more volatile and insidious woman than she was before. She seems to have brought with her an evil presence that will force the three generations of women to confront the dramas and demons of their past.
The drive-in engagement comes after IFC has found great success in releasing its films in the lockdown era at drive-ins, which remain some of the only theaters that are open. It’s had particular success with another horror film, “The Wretched.”
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Arianna Bocco, IFC’s EVP of acquisitions and production, said genre films are perfect for the unique viewing experience offered at drive-ins — key words being “scary, edge-of-your-seat, jump-scares, thrills, chills, adventure.”
“I think it’s everything that people think of when they sit in the dark and they want to be scared. It’s one of the big reasons ‘The Wretched’ works so well,” she said.
Lisa Schwartz, co-president of IFC, said the one-week preview gives her company a chance to support the exhibitors who have helped IFC during lockdown.
“We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to support our drive-in partners during the July 4th holiday weekend. We have been immensely grateful for their support of IFC Films over the last few months during complicated and unprecedented circumstances,” she said. “We’re happy we are able to return the favor.”
The drive-in preview comes after multiple early-summer shifts in release dates, including Warner Bros.’ choice to move Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” from July 17 to July 31.
IFC has another upcoming drive-in special event set for Thursday at the Los Angeles-area Vineland Drive-In. The entire four-screen complex will preview Dave Franco’s directorial debut “The Rental.” Franco, along with cast members Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White, will participate in a post-screening Q&A.
“Relic” is produced by Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw of Carver Films, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker of Nine Stories and Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Todd Makurath, and Mike Larocca of AGBO executive producing.