Deals. Sony Pictures Classics acquired The Last Station hot off its debut at the Telluride Film Festival and plans a quick turnaround, releasing it before the end of the year and pushing its stars Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, and James McAvoy for awards consideration, according to Thompson on Hollywood. Described as a "fictionalized chronicle of Tolstoy's last days" by our own Eugene Novikov, the film's main problem is that it 'madly equivocates' on whether Tolstoy, portrayed by Plummer is, essentially, "a crackpot."
Historical drama John Rabe will get a theatrical outing next spring courtesy of Strand Releasing, according to indieWIRE. Based on the diaries of a German businessman, the film tells about his role in saving the lives of 200,000 people during the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China in 1937. indieWIRE also reports that IFC Films picked up Bruno Dumont's religiously-inclined Hadewijch and Lorber Films will distribute Nobody's Perfect, a German documentary about a man's search for fellow Thalidomide 'children' willing to pose naked for a book of photographs.
Film Criticism. The New York Film Critics Circle celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and will get the spotlight on Saturday at the Hamptons Film Festival, with the ever-contrary Armond White of New York Press sitting down along several other members of the circle. The feisty James Toback, whose documentary Tyson is up for awards consideration this fall, will moderate.
Online / On Demand Viewing. A British journalist investigates the burgeoning phenomenon of public sex in Dogging: A Love Story (not to be confused with Michael Moore's romance), which is now playing on demand via IFC. And we've got the trailer to prove it, after the jump!
Also: Why so serious? The Coen Brothers and Michael Moore. p>
Here's that trailer for Dogging: A Love Story.
Indie Weekend Box Office. The Coen Brothers would seem to have an unfair advantage, simply because of their name value, but that's definitely not a guarantee of success, especially when their latest film features no big-name stars and might be less accessible than their other recent work. A Serious Man drew an average of $41,890 at six locations, according to Box Office Mojo, which sounds about right: very good but not outstandingly so.
Last week a commenter quite rightly pointed out that I had misread the figures for Paranormal Activity; the film only had two screenings at each location where it played over the weekend, so the per-screen average doesn't tell the whole story. Jenni Miller and Todd Gilchrist have already covered the film's success in its limited engagement, but I thought it would be good to note that, even allowing for the limited number of screenings, it sold out its allotted seats and ended up second in the per-screen average totals, taking in $16,129 as it expanded into 33 locations in its second weekend.
Basketball-themed doc More Than a Game did quite fine amidst that competition, earning $13,067 per screen at 14 theaters, and is poised to expand this weekend. It focuses on a season in the life of a high school team that featured LeBron James. Fashion-themed Coco Before Chanel expanded into 16 theaters in its second week and kept up a healthy per-screen average of $12,878.
Did Middle America respond to Michael Moore? His documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, expanded big, moving onto 962 screens. At first blush, the per-screen average of $4,623 sounds modest, but, as I've been reminded, context is important. He outdrew Drew Barrymore's populist, quite entertaining Whip It, which opened in 1,721 theaters and could manage only $2,702 per screen. The per-screen average for Moore's doc also bested Ricky Gervais' very funny and thoughtful The Invention of Lying ($4,117 per-screen at 1,707 theaters).
AJ Schnack of All These Wonderful Things points out that the film has now become "the third biggest nonfiction of the year," surpassing both Food, Inc. and The September Issue, and trailing only Earth (the Disney nature doc) and Jonas Brothers 3D. Quite an accomplishment!