March 24, 2017 - No Comments!

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on ‘Game of Thrones,’ That Cersei Look, and His Darkest Role Yet

From The Daily Beast

The Danish actor best known as Jaime Lannister discusses his new Netflix film ‘Small Crimes,’ where his character is going on ‘Thrones,’ and that melting ice debacle.

By Marlow Stern

“I love the idea of playing with your expectations,” offers Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, unleashing a naughty grin.

We’re huddled together at a hotel suite in downtown Austin, Texas, where his latest film, the pitch-black noir Small Crimes, is making its premiere during SXSW. The handsome Dane is guzzling coffee out of a chalice-shaped water glass, swinging it to-and-fro with every wild gesticulation like a true Lannister (the room apparently ran out of clean coffee cups).

Evan Katz’s sophomore film features Coster-Waldau as Joe, an ex-cop fresh out of prison after a six-year bid for attempted murder. Joe, ever the colossal fuck-up, moves in with his parents (Jacki Weaver, Robert Forster) while dodging a dirty cop with a grudge, a DA out for revenge, and a cabal of ticked-off criminals. To make matters worse, his ex-wife and their two children want nothing to do with him, and he can’t seem to get out of his own way. Can a budding romance with a kindhearted nurse (Molly Parker) make him overcome being persona non grata?

The 46-year-old says it is not only his “most American role yet,” but one of the darkest—and this coming from a guy who’s spent the last six years playing a sister-sexing Kingslayer on the HBO megahit Game of Thrones.

The Daily Beast spoke with Coster-Waldau about his dark, violent new film and all things Thrones, including the meaning of that look his Jaime delivered to Cersei at the end of Season 6.

The great thing about Small Crimes is that it disrupts your expectations. Every time you think the movie is going to zig it zags.

It really does. In the beginning, you think it’s a movie you’ve seen before about a guy who’s done something horrible and wants to reconnect with his children, and now we’ll follow this guy as he goes on a redemption tour and at the very end there will be this beautiful moment where he runs towards his kids and they’ll go, “Daddy, we missed you.” I love that the movie says, Oh, that’s not going to happen.

There’s a scene early on in the film that really sells that point. A beautiful woman approaches him at a bar and you think they’re going to have sex or strike up some sort of romantic relationship, and it goes down very differently.

It would happen in a traditional film, which is horseshit! You see a movie and you accept that there’s a forty-something guy sitting at a bar drinking on his own, and some beautiful 22-year-old girl sidles up to him and just wants it. We’re supposed to accept that, because of course she wants to fuck the old guy, but that’s ridiculous. I like that the film preys on your expectations and just twists it.

You have, it seems, mastered the art of playing the narcissistic scoundrel.

We’re all selfish, to a certain degree. And it’s always going to catch up with you at some point. We are pretty laughable, as human beings. We are so full of ourselves all the time, and there’s something tragic about how we mess up things on a global level, on a personal level. We screw up all the time.

But have you thought about why you’re so good at playing these types of characters?

[Laughs] There’s definitely a part of me in there and I recognize parts of myself in Joe. But I think we are all ultimately selfish. “Being” is, by default, a very subjective experience. Your life is your life, and I have no idea what it’s like to be inside of your head. But I embrace it. I think it’s funny. There are no people that are just “good.” There are various degrees of trying to make good choices and making bad choices, and we’re all somewhere in the middle.

Is it difficult to occupy the headspace of such a dark, troubled character like Joe for weeks and weeks? Or does that sort of thing not get to you?

I don’t carry the character after-hours. October 3rd will be my 25thanniversary as a professional actor. I’ve done it a long time, and I love my job, and sometimes you’ll do it and it will inspire you and you’ll think about it for a while. I have worked with actors that seem to not be able to let go of their characters and in my head, to be honest, I think, “That is bullshit.” It’s just ridiculous. Because if that is true, then you are sick. But that’s just me being me.

We’ve gotta talk about Thrones. The political climate it’s being released into now is very different than when it debuted in 2011. All the backroom dealing and machinations seem, well, timelier than ever.

There seems to be so much more out in the open now. Right now you have a president who’s not afraid of communicating very directly, and talking about his thoughts, likes, and dislikes, which is very unusual. I love politics and the primaries were so entertaining. It was just a different level—you couldn’t make it up. Two years ago, you wouldn’t have believed this for a second. It reminds me of England with Brexit, where the day after they reported that the most Googled entries were, “What is Brexit?” “What does EU mean?” And I think there were more than a few people here who woke up the day after the election like, “What?” “Huh?!”

I have a theory about what’s going to happen to Jaime. I believe Jaime is going to fulfill the prophecy and kill Cersei—while defending Brienne.

[Grins] That’s a great theory.

The Jaime/Brienne relationship is so great, though. It might be the most mutually loving relationship on Thrones.

It’s built out of contempt, which has turned into real respect, and love—not that they would ever use that word. I think they feel very strongly for each other. I have no idea if they would ever be able to act on it, and I don’t think they would. It’s all been about Cersei his whole life.

One of my favorite moments from Season 6 was Jaime’s speech to Edmure Tully where he confessed his love for Cersei in an effort to manipulate him. It was a mic drop scene.

I loved that. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to have a couple of those, and you think, “Oh, this is a really nice meal.” That’s what I like about Jaime: he’s lost his arm and just his presence used to be enough to sway people, and he doesn’t have that anymore—but he’s still got his mind. He’s not like his sister and brother, but he’s been on the battlefield his whole life, and knows about people’s weaknesses and loving someone unconditionally—because he loves his sister unconditionally. Plus, there are no other suitors. Well, that’s not true… but he has to step up and take his father’s place. Wow, I was about to reveal something from Season 7 and thought, “What am I doing?”

Speaking of relationships on Thrones, the Jaime/Cersei bond is one of the most complicated in all of television. It’s one big mindfuck. How do you and Lena [Headey] manage it?

We were talking a lot this coming season. There was a lot of discussion and I was driving everyone crazy with all kinds of questions to where the writers must have been like, “Let’s kill him off now! This is getting to be too much.” But it is very complex, and the more you dig into it, the more complex it gets. We’re so deep into this story and getting into the endgame now so for all of us who have been on the whole journey, you really want to get it right. Every scene and every moment feels ridiculously important. Early on in Season 7 I just had to let it go because I was trying to understand way too much.

Jaime had such a rich arc last season, starting with the Cersei prophecy and ending with that look he gave to her as she’s being crowned. That look seemed to say, “I’ve created a monster.”

It did, didn’t it? Jaime’s addicted to something—almost institutionalized by a situation to where there is no other way. For Jaime, there is no other way. He’s been groomed since he was 15 that, whatever his life is, it starts and ends with Cersei. He has to accommodate her. He’s done that his whole life, and he’s reached a moment now where he suddenly has to address it. What’s interesting about that is people will read into it and there was no line—it’s just a look.”

The Game of Thrones Season 7 date announcement was sort of a disaster. Although I suppose it is a testament to the show’s popularity that there were hundreds of thousands of people tuning in online to watch a block of ice melting.

I spoke to Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] about that and they were like, “Oh god… That’s embarrassing.” Everyone was like, “What’s going to happen?” “What’s going to happen?!” “It’s melting!” “It crashed!” “Oh my god!” It’s like, just walk away… just walk away. It’s just a date! You know, I was actually thinking, “Is there going to be a backlash and people will think, ‘Fuck you guys for that!’” but that’s really happened with every time the show kills off a major character: Never again! Fuck you! I’m never going to watch this show! and, you know, they keep coming back.

March 20, 2017 - No Comments!

Chadwick Boseman Delivers a ‘Message from the King’ in First Teaser & Clip

From The Film Stage

By Jordan Raup

After breaking out by portraying two iconic figures, Jackie Robinson and James Brown, Chadwick Boseman is getting his own solo Marvel movie with Black Panther next year, but in between he got down and dirty for an old-fashioned revenge thriller. We now have the first teaser for Message from the King, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival last fall.

Considering Boseman’s rising star power, it’s peculiar it doesn’t have U.S. distribution yet, but the film will arrive in France in May and the first teaser shows off a genre film with some considerable style. Directed by Fabrice Du Welz (Alléluia, Calvaire) and also starring Luke Evans, Teresa Palmer, and Alfred Molina, check out the first teaser below, along with a clip, for the film following Boseman’s character as he heads from South Africa to Los Angeles to get payback after his sister dies.

message-from-the-king-poster

Message from the King hits theaters on May 10 in France.

 

March 12, 2017 - No Comments!

‘Small Crimes’ Review: Macon Blair and Evan Katz Join Forces For a Modestly Satisfying Dose of Pulp Fiction

From IndieWire

By David Ehrlich

NCW small-crimes

A pulpy slice of pie from deep in the heart of American nowhere, Evan Katz’s “Small Crimes” is far too convoluted for such an admittedly modest thriller, but the film ties together in such a perfect bow that it’s tempting to forgive all of the knots it took to get there.

At heart, this is a simple story of second chances. Crooked cop Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, striking the perfect balance between the disgraced prince he plays on “Game of Thrones” and Sawyer from “Lost”) has finally been granted parole after spending a few years in the pen for the attempted murder of a District Attorney, and he’s ready to turn his life around. Kind of. Maybe.

Joe is a raggedy shit-kicker, like a junkie who needs to shoot himself in the foot every few hours — you know the type. He spends the film’s opening shot speaking to a man of the cloth and confessing all manner of sins (“I made terrible choices, I drove my family away, I hurt people…”), but it’s all a two-bit act, and the scene ends with a note of the withering gallows humor that screenwriter Macon Blair (“I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.”) is so good at sprinkling atop the cold-blooded crime stories that have always been his bread and butter.

The film may be based on David Zeltserman’s 2008 novel of the same name, but it feels like it married into the same family of cinematic blood feuds that Blair and Jeremy Saulnier hatched with “Blue Ruin” and “Green Room.”

Grade: B-

“Small Crimes” premiered in the Narrative Spotlight section at SXSW 2017. It will debut on Netflix on April 28.

March 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Netflix’s ‘Small Crimes’ Trailer Hopes For a Second Chance

From Bloody Disgusting

By Brad Miska

NCW Screen-Shot-2017-03-09-at-2.41.20-PM

We told you exclusively that E.L. (Evan) Katz‘s dramatic thriller Small Crimes, which stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jacki Weaver, Robert Forster, Gary Cole, Molly Parker, Macon Blair, and even Pat Healy, was acquired by Netflix ahead of the SXSW world premiere this week. Now, Netflix has supplied us with a trailer and news that it will stream worldwide on April 28, 2017.

Katz may be a fresh name at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival, but he’s actually a genre veteran. Now a director, he made his name by penning Autopsy, as well as two of Adam Wingard’s earlier films, Pop Skull and Home Sick, while also producing Tobe Hooper’s Mortuary. He also directed the best ABCs of Death 2 short, “A is for Amateur”, which was anything but.

February 6, 2017 - No Comments!

Netflix Buys Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s ‘Small Crimes’ Ahead of SXSW Debut

From Variety

By Elsa Keslassy, Brent Lang

nikolaj-coster-waldau

UPDATED: Netflix has closed a deal to by global streaming rights to the black comedy “Small Crimes,” Variety has learned. The sale is in advance of the film’s premiere next month as SXSW.

“Small Crimes” centers on a disgraced former cop, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of “Game of Thrones” fame, who comes home after finishing a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder. He tries to find redemption, but winds up ensnared in a mess he left behind, caught in the middle of a crooked sheriff, a district attorney out for revenge, and a mafia baron.

Netflix was very active at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, buying “Mudbound,” an acclaimed historical drama, for $12.5 million in the biggest deal of the fest. It nabbed several other projects, including “Icarus,” a buzzy documentary about Russian doping, and “Chasing Coral,” a look at global warming.

Evan Katz — a former music journalist — directs the film from a screenplay he wrote with Macon Blair (“Blue Ruin”). He was previously at SXSW in 2013 with his directorial debut “Cheap Thrills.” The cast includes Molly Parker (“House of Cards”), Gary Cole (“Veep”), Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”), Blair, and Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom”). In addition to the upcoming season of “Game of Thrones,” Coster-Waldau will next appear in the upcoming prison thriller, “Shot Caller.”

David Lancaster and Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films produced the picture. It was financed by U.K.’s Rooks Nest (“The Witch,” “Obvious Child”) and French-based Backup and Paradise City. The executive producers include Katz, Jon Shiffman, Julia Godzinskaya, Michael Sackler, Sophie Vickers, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Nicholas Kaiser, Andrew Schwartzberg, Jaime Schwartzberg, David Atlan-Jackson, Joel Thibout, and Jean-Baptiste Babin. CAA packaged the film. The rights were sold by WME Global and Memento Films International.

August 30, 2016 - No Comments!

‘Donnybrook’ Movie in the Works from ‘Dark Night’ Director

From Variety

By Dave McNary

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock (5626267bf) Tim Sutton 'Boyhood' film premiere at BAM Cinema Fest, New York, America - 18 Jun 2014

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock (5626267bf)
Tim Sutton
'Boyhood' film premiere at BAM Cinema Fest, New York, America - 18 Jun 2014

David Lancaster’s Rumble Films has signed “Dark Night” writer/director Tim Sutton to adapt and direct the crime thriller “Donnybrook,” Variety has learned exclusively.

“Dark Night,” which premiered at Sundance in January, will screen at the Venice Intl. Film Festival. The film focuses on the lives of six strangers intersecting at a suburban multiplex where a massacre occurs.

“Donnybrook,” the first novel from Frank Bill, follows two men as they try to get to the Donnybrook — a legendary backwoods bare knuckle brawl where the winner gets $100,000. Bill is the author of the short-story collection “Crimes in Southern Indiana.”

Sutton’s previous films include “Memphis” and “Pavilion.”

“I was knocked out when I read ‘Donnybrook,’ the most raw, out of control, nasty piece of business I have ever come across,” said Rumble Films topper David Lancaster. “It fits perfectly within the signature films that Tim has made culminating with the powerful ‘Dark Night.’”

Lancaster launched Rumble Films in 2014 following eight years as co-president at Bold Films where he produced critically acclaimed “Whiplash,” “Nightcrawler” and “Drive.” Rumble’s films to date include “Eye in the Sky,” starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman and Barkhad Abdi, and “Message from the King,” which will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival and stars Chadwick Boseman with Fabrice du Welz directing.

Rumble recently wrapped production on “Small Crimes,” director E.L. Katz’s crime thriller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jacki Weaver, Robert Forster, Gary Cole and Molly Parker.

Sutton is represented by UTA, Cinetic and attorney André des Rochers. Debbie Von Arx represented Rumble Films. Bill is repped by Shari Smiley at Gotham Group and Stacia Decker of Dunow, Carlow, Lerner.

May 13, 2016 - No Comments!

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Starring in Dark Comedy ‘Small Crimes’ (EXCLUSIVE)

From Variety

By Dave McNary

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock (5593855cd) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau 'Gods of Egypt' film premiere, New York, America - 24 Feb 2016

“Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau will play in the dark comedy “Small Crimes” for David Lancaster’s production company Rumble Films, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film will shoot this summer and is set for an early 2017 delivery. E.L. Katz is directing from a script he co-wrote with Macon Blair in a story of a disgraced former cop who — fresh off a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder — returns home looking for redemption but winds up trapped in the mess he left behind.

This is Katz’s second film after “Cheap Thrills,” which premiered in SXSW in 2013 where it won the Audience Award and was released in the US through Drafthouse Films.

Lancaster’s credits include “Drive,” “Nightcrawler” and “Whiplash.

“’Small Crimes’ provides another opportunity to bring the crime genre to audiences in a fresh and stylish way with an exciting combination of Nikolaj in the lead role and Evan directing,” he said. “Evan has a singular vision for this project, an incredible grasp of tone, and an undeniable passion for moviemaking. I’ve been eager to work with him ever since I saw Cheap Thrills.”

The film is based on Dave Zeltserman’s novel published in 2008. Coster-Waldau also stars in Bold Films’ prison thriller “Shotcaller,” which will be released later this year.

The film is financed by Rumble Films and Burn Later Productions. Memento Films International will be handling sales in Cannes. The project was developed through MFI’s sister company Paradise City, which will also act as a co-producer on the film.

Coster-Waldau also starred in “Gods of Egypt” and “Oblivion.”

Katz is represented by CAA and managed by Jeremy Platt. Coster-Waldau is represented by WME. The deal was negotiated by Rumble’s Jon Shiffman and attorney Debbie Von Arx for Rumble, Burn Later partners Paul Bernon and Sam Slater, and Emilie Georges and Naima Abed for Memento.

CAA arranged the film’s financing and represents its domestic distribution rights.

April 28, 2016 - No Comments!

5 Ways That ‘Eye in the Sky’ Topped the 2016 Specialty Box Office

helen eye

From Indiewire

By Tom Brueggemann

Early year releases can be successful. 2015 saw Weinstein's "The Woman in Gold," Fox Searchlight sequel "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and A24's "Ex Machina" haul in $25-33 million totals, while Searchlight's Oscar-winner "The Grand Budapest Hotel" hit $60 million the year before. (A24 went wide with its smart-horror hit "The Witch.")

"Eye in the Sky" won't reach that level, but it tops a slew of recent high-end post-Oscar season releases. (Sony Pictures Classics launched "Lady in the Van" in January hoping for Maggie Smith recognition, but even without it still managed nearly $10 million.) Going early in the year can lessen chances of awards attention later, but films can also grab more attention, as audiences do pay heed to new titles over 12 months, not just during the awards-friendly September-February period. And for distributors, competition and marketing expenses are much reduced.

And so Bleecker has pushed "Eye in the Sky" to $15 million in just under seven weeks, placing ninth or tenth at the box office for the last four weekends. Assuming Hood's drone and missile anti-terror thriller continues to hold well (this past weekend saw only a 22% drop), "Eye in the Sky" looks on track to approach $20 million, a superb result for a film acquired for a reported $2 million when it premiered at Toronto last September. That number would put it in the range of the similarly intense and thoughtful Oscar-winning war saga "The Hurt Locker," which took in $17 million (about $19 million in today's ticket prices) for a summertime release that was not boosted theatrically by its later awards success (it went to DVD).

1. Sell Helen Mirren

Few actors really can do much more than get a film initial attention, even in the specialized world. Mirren is one of several British actors (also Maggie Smith and Judi Dench) and of course Meryl Streep who immediately lend status to a title. In the decade since her Oscar win for "The Queen," Mirren has played a series of smart, tough-minded and versatile characters with an energy that belies her age and in some cases gender: "Red," "The Debt," "The Hundred-Foot Journey," "The Woman in Gold," "Hitchcock," and "Trumbo." Not all were successes ("Hitchcock" disappointed), but they made her ideal for the role of the woman in charge of a British military intelligence unit targeting Somali terrorists planning new attacks in Kenya.

2. Pick a Smart Release Strategy

Other than "Lady in the Van," most of the films for specialized audiences for the first two months of the year were Oscar nominees, playing week after week trying to maximize revenues from nominations. That competition for media attention— and likely exclusion from later awards attention —brings a hunger for fresh films by early March. But there is also risk, as the weeks that follow are crammed with releases with similar aims that can quickly overtake the slightly older fare.

The March 11 date for "Eye" came about two weeks after the Oscars. The initial week saw Terrence Malick's star-driven "Knight of Cups" in play in New York and Los Angeles, which came and went with little impact. The next week saw "Eye" head to head with Roadside Attractions' older female appeal rom-com "Hello, My Name Is Doris." Both opened well ($23,000 and $21,000 per theater averages respectively). "Doris" smartly broadened more quickly (Roadside often initially takes their films to a wider audience with great success) and outpaced "Eye" at first. But Bleecker Street held back until April 1 to really broaden, going from 123 to 1,029 runs to make its biggest advertising push. It came with a bonus. That weekend saw no new wide release films from studios (a rarity), giving it a higher profile and easy access to top theaters across the country.

Eye In The Sky

3. Gauge Audience Appeal and Risks

Few specialized films break out without shaping marketing to both capitalize on strengths (Mirren's presence and good reviews) and overcoming weaknesses. The latter kept "Eye" from getting an even higher acquisition price for its producers. Its military subject sometimes works for the specialty audience, but rare success "The Hurt Locker" was aided by the best possible critical response and fell much earlier in the cycle of post-9/11 war films. Obviously "American Sniper" was in another league entirely.

Its specific subject—a complex series of decisions about targeting terrorists and the technological and human elements involved—had previously been covered in "Good Kill" with Ethan Hawke last year (just after "Boyhood"), who played a nearly identical role to Aaron Paul's missile-targeter questioning his job. It managed to gross a grand total of $316,000.

What sets "Eye" apart is that though the moral dilemmas involved are front and center, it is shaped more as a thriller and skillfully weaves several different perspectives and locations (mainly Nairobi Kenya, London and a Nevada military base) together over a brief period as a group of likely terrorists are spotted together (by aerial spying equipment). The human drama involved —the stakes and dilemmas for the various military and civilian participants, the issue of collateral damage on the ground, all against a tight and increasingly suspense-filled deadline —is multi-faceted. But it is tough to convey this in a way to give it a distinctive feel, let alone engage an older audience used to more conventional dramas and themes.

Eye In The Sky
"Eye in the Sky"

The marketing material— trailers, posters, clips — tackled this head on. They emphasized the film's complex moral issues (even more relevant in the middle of a presidential campaign with issues of appropriate military response are central), the gadgetry involved (real life, not fantasy, but giving the film a James Bond feel) and positioned the film as a thoughtful but tense thriller. This isn't hard to pull off in a trailer, but finally the people who were compelled to see the movie came away satisfied. That's when good word of mouth feeds a hit.

The marketers also made sure this wasn't presented as only a star vehicle positioned to garner awards notice. While Mirren surely delivers, the film's strength is its ensemble led by Alan Rickman in one of his most riveting (and sadly final) performances, as well as Paul showcasing his talents better than any other post-"Breaking Bad" role. But the casting gave dividends beyond: Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi proved that "Captain Phillips" wasn't a fluke, as well as a whole range of skillful British actors including Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Northam, and Iain Glen. And this extended to the smallest roles where stock characters quickly gained depth and usually sympathy for their characters' plights and dilemmas. With the right Bleecker awards positioning later in the year, Mirren, Paul and Rickman (the latter oddly never Oscar nominated) could score some nods.

4. Bank on Outside the Box Appeal

For better or worse, the formula for breakout success for specialized films these days is narrow. Apart from the near prerequisite English soundtrack, too many movies, despite the pretense of cutting edge arthouse films, often play it safe and conventional without challenging audiences. In truth, the older specialized film devote, though often politically liberal, tends to be more artistically conservative, often responding to feel-good movies.  "Spotlight" is an example of a superior drama with great craft that deserves its acclaim.

Most successful films mute their moral dilemmas to make audience identification relatively easy (though some popular films like military-themed "American Sniper" and "Zero Dark Thirty" absorb some complicated issues). "Eye in the Sky" puts morality front in center for its audience, giving them all the sides but leaving it to them to answer for themselves what the right decision is. That is a risk that seems to have been pulled off here.

The film does more than rely on a straightforward narrative story and outstanding actors. The script is wordy and dense, but the film's masterful editing adds tension as it cross-cuts among diverse visually exotic locations over a limited (and crucial) time frame and deploys sound and VFX to good effect.

The slower release pattern seems to have worked to increase interest from men who are not normally specialized film attendees. Bleecker worked hard to draw from military communities (the film did particularly well in the Washington D.C. area). This audience isn't easy to reach, but once they sample and like it, this can increase appeal and sustain word of mouth interest now evident in later weeks of the run.

Unusually, "Eye" manages to bring tension, excitement, and edge-of-seat intrigue to a specialized movie. Clearly this paid dividends.

Alan Rickman inn 'Eye in the Sky'
Bleecker StreetAlan Rickman inn 'Eye in the Sky'

5. Deal with the Unexpected

Sometimes external events come into play during a film's life. The unfortunately untimely death of Alan Rickman came just ahead of the release and gave greater attention to his work. Ongoing news focus on drone attacks also added interest.

But luck within the release schedule can help as well. The last few weeks have seen an unusually big number of early spring high-profile specialized releases. Apart from the successful "Doris" and the Terence Malick flop, new releases have included prime entries from Jeff Nichols ("Midnight Special") and Richard Linklater ("Everybody Wants Some!!") that both proved to be disappointments, and more niche-appeal films like "Miles Ahead" and younger-oriented "Green Room." Bleecker Street benefited from a lack of competition, so more of its potential audience gravitated to the movie, adding to its gross.

Things came together here. Skill in the making of the film (and its depiction of smart people at work as a team, sometimes in conflict, not unlike "Spotlight") and in its release led to mission accomplished.

March 15, 2016 - No Comments!

‘Eye In The Sky’ TV Spot With Drone Attacks Depicted In Film Uses Obama Voiceover

From Deadline

By Anita Busch

Eye in the Sky — the drama about drone strikes — is so timely that distributor Bleecker Street is using President Barack Obama’s speech about the new technology as the voice-over for the film’s TV spot, which is debuting tonight during the Republican debate (watch it above). How? Insiders said the President’s speech is considered public domain now as it has been referred to and repeated so many times.

Eye in the Sky, one of the last films with the late Alan Rickman, will be released Friday, and the timing couldn’t have been more coincidental. The powerful film from director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) and writer Guy Hibbert is a nail-biter as characters argue over the rules of engagement and the legality and morality of war in making a decision about a drone strike in Kenya that targets the Al-Shabaab militant group. The eOne Features film mirrors what happened just this week in Somalia, when the U.S. military killed 150 Islamist Al-Shabaab militants in strikes carried out in part by drones.

The film, also starring Helen Mirren and Barkhad Abdi, is one of the few movies —Fruitvale Station comes to mind — that allows the audience to come to know victims before tragedy strikes, giving high value to a single life; in this case, it’s a little girl selling bread who’s in danger of becoming “collateral damage.” However improbable, it pits the cold mind of the military establishment against the morality of (wait for it) politicians. Of course, it doesn’t take place in thiscountry. The commanders are properly British.

There have been other films that unwittingly imitated real life. For instance, after the 2012 Aurora theater massacre during the midnight showing of Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises (where my cousin was murdered along with 11 others), the same studio was readying to release the period mob film Gangster Squad. In one of the scenes, mobsters killed people in a movie theater by shooting into the audience in the same way the shooter did in Aurora.

The studio pulled the film’s trailer, excised the scene and filmed new footage to replace that scene “out of respect for the families,” it said. In reality, it was doubtful a nation of moviegoers would have the stomach for it at the box office — especially releasing the film in a time period where there had been five mass shootings (Aurora, Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Clackamas and Newtown).

For Eye in the Sky, however, Bleecker Street also couldn’t be more surprised that life is imitating its art. The film has suddenly becomes a ripped-from-the-headlines story.

In 1997, then-President Clinton lodged a complaint with Warner Bros over the use of his press conference comments about a Mars meteorite being found “as one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered.” The snippet was inserted into a scene in the Robert Zemeckis-directed Contact to make it look he was talking about messages from aliens. In that instance, however, the president was upset because his words were taken out of context.

In this case, the bits used for the TV spot are mainly pulled from Obama’s speech to the National Defense University about drone strikes and terrorism. Another part appears to be from a Military Academy speech, and the last one about the world we leave to our children is used in at least two speeches, one about drones and one about climate change.

Eye in the Sky was several years in the making and in one of its incarnations had Oliver Hirschbiegel on board to direct. The eOne and Raindog Films project eventually ended up with helmer Hood with Colin Firth (also a producer) attached to star. However, Firth ended up only producing, with the final incarnation starring Rickman. The highly suspenseful film premiered in Toronto to critical raves and a standing ovation. That led to a three-way bidding war that Bleecker Street won in a deal worth more than $2 million.

Bleecker Street is platforming the release this weekend, which is sure to receive a high CinemaScore and enjoy positive word-of-mouth to carry the film through to when it goes nationwide on April 1. It will get an international bow later this spring.

Eye in the Sky is also produced by Ged Doherty and David Lancaster (formerly of Bold Films)

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