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Iran’s Oscar Nominee ‘The Salesman’ & Mexican Hit ‘Un Padre No Tan Padre’ Open Stateside – Specialty Preview

Deadline logo Deadline 1/27/2017 Brian Brooks
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Pantalion will bow Mexican comedy Un Padre No Tan Padre in more than 300 locations this weekend in the wake of a battle royal President Trump has picked with America’s neighbor to the south. The film, about an intergenerational clash starring popular actor Héctor Bonilla, has been a big draw in Mexico since opening late last year. Trump also said he will seek a visa ban from visitors from Iran among other countries, prompting a star in Foreign Language Oscar-nominatedThe Salesman to boycott the Academy Awards ceremony next month in protest. The film by Asghar Farhadi will open in New York and Los Angeles this weekend via Cohen Media Group. China Lion is opening Buddies in India day-and-date with its rollout in China, another country in Trump’s cross hairs, while Wolfe Releasing is opening gay drama Paris 05:59 Théo & Hugo on Friday.

Among other limited-release openers this weekend are Well Go USA’s Kung Fu Yoga and Kino Lorber’s The Daughter, starring Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill.

Un Padre No Tan Padre

Director: Raúl Martínez

Writer: Alberto Bremer

Cast: Héctor Bonilla, Benny Ibarra De Llano, Arturo Barba, Jacqueline Bracamontes, Sergio Mayer Mori

Distributor: Lionsgate/Pantelion

Pantelion screened Mexican comedy Un Padre No Tan Padre nine months ago. The title is a directorial feature first from Raúl Martínez from a first screenplay by writer Alberto Bremer, but it stars veterans of Mexican big and small screens including Héctor Bonilla, Benny Ibarra and Jacqueline Bracamontes. “It’s different than a lot of movies we get from Mexico,” said Pantelion COO Edward Allen. “We were drawn to this idea of a fish-out-of-water story.”

Un Padre No Tan Padre follows Don Servando Villegas, who gets expelled from his retirement home and is taken in by his younger son Francisco. Don Servando is about to find out the truth about his son and his way of living.

“His son lives in a hippie commune,” Allen said. “The father is stuck in his ways, but the son is very progressive. There’s a conflict between the old and new world, and that is something Latino culture is coming to terms with in general. This film spoke to us from a generational point of view, and we think that this will speak to our audience.”

Allen said test screenings were very positive with females 25 and older almost 100% picking the top box. The title has grossed nearly $4 million in Mexico since opening just ahead of Christmas. Allen said Pantelion is highlighting the film’s well-known actors and the family element ahead of its rollout this weekend in the U.S.

“Something that is important for us is the family element,” he said. “It’s important for our audiences to be able to see a movie together. We’re also relying on our partners Telemundo and Univision to get the word out. Our marketing budget is modest, but our team has done a great job to stretch it and make as many people as possible aware.”

Un Padre No Tan Padre will open in about 325 theaters around the country this weekend, on the lower end of Pantelion’s usual rollouts in the 360- to 400-location range. Although the film will have a footprint around the country, it will play heavier in the Southwest and West Coast.

The Salesman

Director-writer: Asghar Farhadi

Cast: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Babak Karimi, Farid Sajjadi Hosseini, Mina

Sadati, Maral Bani Adam, Mehdi Kooshki, Emad Emami, Shirin Aghakashi, Mojtaba Pirzadeh, Sahra Asadollahe, Ehteram Borourmand, Sam Valipour

Distributor: Amazon Studios/Cohen Media Group

Iranian filmmaker Ashghar Farhadi’s A Separation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2012. The Sony Pictures Classics release took in just over $7M in the U.S. His latest, The Salesman, is up for the award this year. Cohen Media Group said that the company, along with Amazon, discovered The Salesman at its first market screening in Cannes.

The Salesman revolves around young Tehran couple Emad and Rana, who are forced to move into a new apartment after their old one is damaged. Eventually, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant dramatically changes the couple’s life and creates a simmering tension between husband and wife.

“[The Oscar nomination] will obviously help the film enormously,” a spokesperson from Cohen Media Group said. “We were always of the mind that the film would be able to stand on its own, outside of the awards world, but we worked very hard to get the nomination and time our release in such a way that we would get the full benefit, in terms of building audience awareness and opening up a wider and more robust rollout. The plan always was to open New York and LA in Week 1, but we will be able to expand more aggressively in the weeks ahead.”

Cohen Media Group said it has built its advertising around the nomination in print, online and in social media in the lead-up to its release this weekend, including a targeted outreach to Persian communities throughout the U.S. as well as word-of-mouth screenings in Dallas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

“We’ve also had a ton of great traditional coverage in mainstream outlets, targeting the art house audience that has helped establish Asghar Farhadi as a major international filmmaker,” added Cohen Media Group. “The main thrust of the marketing campaign was setting it up as a Farhadi film but in a Hitchcock-type mode, trying to make it clear he’s pushing himself as a filmmaker and working outside of his established wheelhouse.”

Various media reported Thursday that actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who co-stars in The Salesman, will boycott the Oscars ceremony to protest Trump’s announcement that he will issue a temporary ban on visas for citizens from seven Muslim countries, including Iran. She said via Twitter: “Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Among other Oscar nominees in the category, Sweden’s A Man Called Ove (Music Box Films), which opened September 30, has cumed $3.37M; Christmas Day opener Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics) from Germany is still in the midst of its release, coming in at $262K to date; SPC also has Denmark’s Land of Mine, which will open the U.S. in mid-February; And Australia’s entry, Tanna, grossed just under $6K in a very limited stateside release.

The Salesman will open Friday at Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center in New York as well as the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles. The feature then heads to two dozen more locations the following week with additional markets set to be added throughout February and beyond.

Buddies in India

Director: Wang Baoqiang

Writers: Shu Huan, Ding, Su Biao, Cha Muchun

Cast: Wang Baoqiang, Yue Yunpeng, Liu Yan, Vikramjeet Virk, Shruti Sodhi

Distributor: China Lion

China Lion had been tracking Buddies in India since it was announced last year and heavily competed to acquire the title. It stars well-known Chinese actor Wang Baoqiang, who also directed the film. The company released a film starring Wang last year and said it expects to see higher box office with Buddies in India.

“We released his starrer Detective Chinatown in mid-January last year to solid returns, and we’re looking forward to bigger and better returns on Buddies in India,” said China Lion’s Robert Lundberg. “Secondly, there’s definite Bollywood influences to the film, emphasizing a lot of elements indicative of the genre. The film has fun with those, and we feel there’s potential crossover elements because of it.”

Buddies in India centers on Tang Sen, who packs up and heads to India with his friend Wu Kong in search of his father’s last will and testament following a deathbed confession about its location. Along the way, the merry duo becomes a motley crew, enlisting a loyal but quirky fighter and a cagey but beautiful woman, all while experiencing the mysteries of a magical land that both helps and hinders them in their quest.

China Lion is tapping the buzz coming from China in promoting the title’s rollout in North America and the U.K., coinciding with its bow at home. This will be China Lion’s widest-ever release. The film will open in 55 locations in the U.S. and Canada, topping last year’s I Belonged To You by five runs.

“We’ve expanded our media spend to include more traditional outlets such as outdoor and television,” said Lundberg. “We’re looking to maximize the start of the Chinese New Year this weekend and promoting Buddies as an ideal film to celebrate it, with both our international student base and local audiences. And a good percentage of the theaters we play at are also top Bollywood-performing locations, and as such, we’ve also reached out to Bollywood-centric media.”

Paris 05:59 Théo & Hugo

Directors-writers: Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel

Cast: François Nambot, Geoffrey Couët, Georges Daaboul

Distributor: Wolfe Releasing

Wolfe Releasing initially hoped to release French gay drama Paris 05:59 Théo & Hugo in October or November in the wake of its festival run but waited until now in order to take advantage of a release at IFC Center in New York.

The feature opens in a sex club where Théo and Hugo’s bodies meet, click together and merge in a passionate embrace. After the headiness of desire and the ecstasy of their first encounter, the two young men, in the empty streets of Paris by night, are faced with their budding love.

“We wanted to run through the gay and lesbian festivals through October and looked at doing a release in October or November, but we wanted to release in IFC Center,” said Wolfe’s Jim Stephens. “There are still so many Oscar contenders out there and theaters want to hold on to them … but winter isn’t a bad time.”

Wolfe is hoping its diverse elements will be a draw for audiences.

“We like the movie because that first 20 minutes is tense and nothing like you’ve seen before,” explained Stephens. “Then, it’s tender and has, what I think, is a happy ending.” Wolfe is doing grassroots marketing in addition to wider outreach through publicity outfit Brigade. It is also hoping a strong review in New York will drive crowds to IFC Center, which is in Greenwich Village, traditionally a gay stronghold.

In addition to IFC Center, Wolfe Releasing will open Paris 05:59 Théo & Hugo at the Laemmle Music Hall in L.A., the Roxie in San Francisco and The Gateway in Fort Lauderdale. It will head to additional locations in the coming weeks and will be available on VOD after two months.

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