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Terrence Malick’s SXSW Opener ‘Song To Song’ Rolls Out, ’T2 Trainspotting’ Bows – Specialty B.O. Preview

Deadline logo Deadline 3/17/2017 Brian Brooks
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A week after opening the SXSW festival, Terrence Malick’s Song to Song with Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman begins its theatrical release via Broad Green Pictures this weekend. Two decades after Trainspotting becoming a cultural phenomenon, sequel T2 Trainspotting opens with limited runs this weekend. Film Movement is opening Japanese drama After The Storm in New York and L.A., while Well Go USA is bowing Korean thriller Bluebeard in over a dozen theaters. And Music Box Films is opening French filmmaker François Ozon’s latest Frantz in two New York locations before going to additional cities in the coming weeks.

Song to Song

Director-writer: Terrence Malick

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Bérénice Marlohe, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, Val Kilmer

Distributor: Broad Green Pictures

Austin-based filmmaker Terrence Malick, fittingly, had the world premiere of his Song to Song at the city’s SXSW Film Festival. The crowd was typically enthusiastic and on stage were cast members Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Bérénice Marlohe. Also not surprising was the absence of Malick, who remained typically elusive during the screening, but things were about to change. One of the film’s producers, Nicolas Gonda, spilled the beans that Malick would appear at a SXSW panel about the film the next day — and so he did.

Song to Song is set mostly in Austin and its surrounding areas — quite often at sunset and using some of the Texas capital’s prime real estate. The feature centers on two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal play out against the music scene in Austin.

“[The idea] had been percolating in my head for a few years,” said Malick, who was joined by Fassbender and fellow Austin-filmmaker and moderator Richard Linklater. “We shot on a 40-day schedule. These days with the new cameras, 40 days can quickly accumulate a lot of footage, so we first had an eight hour cut. It took a long time to get it to a manageable length.”

Malick joked that maybe it could be a miniseries and added that there is “enough material” to make another full movie.

“I don’t think we could have survived more than a 40-day schedule,” said Fassbender. “We were constantly doing something. If we weren’t shooting, we were doing voiceover. In most shoots there’s usually time to take a nap in the trailer, but with this, even if we were traveling to a new location, we were shooting that too.”

The beginning of the film shows some zany moments of its stars in character — at least apparently — partying in Mexico. Malick said that he wanted the scenes there to contrast with the rest of the movie, and by all accounts, they did indeed have a good time.

“The scenes of when they were in the Yucatan were meant to convey a sense of a more simple, colorful life that would arouse something interesting in them,” said Malick. “So we flew down there for some days. It got pretty rowdy.”

Malick’s previous Broad Green release was Knight of Cups with Christian Bale, Wes Bentley and Cate Blanchett which grossed $566K domestically. His 2013 release, To the Wonder, took in over $587K in theaters, while his last high box office earner was Searchlight’s The Tree of Life (2011), which cumed over $13.3M. His 1998 feature The Thin Red Line remains his biggest box office hit at $36.4M.

Broad Green will open Song to Song in limited release this weekend, adding additional markets in the coming weeks.

T2 Trainspotting

Director: Danny Boyle

Writers: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Steven Robertson, Gordon Kennedy, Shirley Henderson

Distributor: TriStar

Twenty-one years after becoming a cultural juggernaut, Danny Boyle has come out with a follow-up to his 1996 film Trainspotting, reassembling the cast for a new look at the lads decades after Renton (Ewan McGregor) upped and stole the drug money and vowed to lead a “stable, traditional life.”

In T2, which was the secret screening at the SXSW Film Festival last weekend, Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his gang including Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie. Writer John Hodge borrowed from novelist Irvine Welsh’s 2002 book Porno for the latest installment.

“We tried for a long time to call it something else,” explained Boyle at the Berlin International Film Festival last month where it premiered. “We wanted to make a film independent of the first, but still having a ‘conversation’ with the original. We suggested calling it The Least Unfamiliar, but you can imagine the silence in the room when we proposed that title…”

Boyle said it didn’t take long to get the actors back on board for T2, though reports of a split between him and McGregor were overcome.

“When I finally sent the actors the script, I knew they would want to do it and they did, and now we find ourselves here,” said Boyle. “What has changed here is John Hodge wrote something more personal than we expected, so the key was unlocking it. There’s an anxiety about age, manhood and disappointment, and that was the focus. The actors themselves also placed their own experience with aging into their characters.”

T2: Trainspotting has cumed over $20.9M in the U.K. where it opened in late January. The original, which opened in July 1996 took in nearly $16.5M in the American box office.

Actor Jonny Lee Miller threw some caution to the wind when asked about the possible impact of the new film compared to the old: “The first one was a magical mix of good writing and had a zeitgeist affecting people at the right time. There’s no way you can create that lightning in a bottle again. It’s not a sequel. It’s a post mortem if you like.”

Tristan will open T2 in limited exclusive engagements this weekend before going wider in the coming weeks.

After the Storm

Director-writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Ya ko Maki, Taiya Yoshizawa, Kirin Kiki

Distributor: Film Movement

Film Movement caught Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film, After the Storm, at its Cannes debut last year. The title is a bit of a departure for the distributor, which typically releases films from new filmmakers, though the company said it is now ready to expand from that base. “We’ve been trying to get more establishment work,” said the company’s Michael Rosenberg. “This is the biggest theatrical release [ever] for us.”

After The Storm follows author Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), a past-his-glory prize-winning author who now wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother (Kirin Kiki) and beautiful ex-wife (Yoko Make) seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a lasting place in the life of his young son (Taiyo Yoshizawa) – until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again.

“This is also the biggest spend for us,” added Rosenberg. “We cut a new trailer and commissioned new art and we’re doing radio ads [as well as] ads in the Los Angeles and New York Times in addition to social media, podcasts etc. We’re spending many multiples of what we’ve done in the past. We’re hoping this will be a successful start to our 15th anniversary.”

Film Movement is opening After the Storm at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza in New York as well as in a few locations in Los Angeles. “The Oscars are now a few weeks behind us,” added Rosenberg. “Moonlight and Manchester are still playing, but there’s more room now that a few days ago. We’re also working with Landmark in other markets. There are over 75 theaters [to date].”

Frantz

Director-writer: François Ozon

Writer: Philippe Piazza

Cast: Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber, Johann von Bülow, Anton von Lucke, Cyrielle Clair, Alice de Lencquesaing

Distributor: Music Box Films

Veteran French filmmaker François Ozon found inspiration for his latest film Frantz from a post-WWI play by Maurice Rostand that inspired the 1932 film adaption by Ernst Lubitsch, Broken Lullaby. Music Box Films caught Frantz prior to its Venice premiere, where the film’s star, Paual Beer, won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actress for her performance.

Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Frantz recalls the mourning period as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation.” Anna, a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed in trench warfare, and Adrien, a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz.

“It’s moving, smart, classical with a profound sense of history,” commented Music Box’s Dylan Marchetti. “The core [for this film] is the traditional older arthouse audience that are reachable through favorable reviews, advance screenings and print, online and social media advertising.”

Ozon’s previous film, The New Girlfriend from Cohen Media Group, grossed nearly $147K at the box office after opening in America in early fall, 2015. Music Box released his 2011 feature, Potiche, with Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu, taking in over $1.6M.

Music Box will open Frantz at Lincoln Plaza and Film Forum in New York this weekend. The title will then head to Los Angeles and the Bay Area next week, followed by an additional eight top markets and expansion in the New York metropolitan area. It will head to the top 50 markets to approximately 100 locations later this spring.

Bluebeard

Director-writer: Lee Su-Yeon

Cast: Cho Jin-Woong, Kim Dae-Myung, Lee Chung-Ah, Shin Gu, Song Young-Chang, Yoon Se-Ah

Distributor: Well Go USA

Well Go USA saw footage from South Korean thriller Bluebeard and didn’t hold back in picking up the title for this side of the Pacific. The distributor said its audience looks out for films “like this” and is expected to come out this weekend for the Korean thriller.

“It’s an atmospheric and smart thriller, one of those rare great whodunits that keeps you guessing, but with a distinctly Korean spin on it,” commented Well Go USA’s Dylan Marchetti. “We stay in close touch with fans, and they’re always begging us for more films like this.”

Bluebeard follows a doctor who learns a murderous secret from a sedated patient and then finds himself in the middle of an unsolved serial murder case. As dismembered bodies start showing up close to home, the doctor realizes he must solve the riddle before the killer realizes what he may know.

Bluebeard was well received in Korea, even though it received a smaller release. The film was only just displaced by Kong as one of the top ten releases of the year,” said Marchetti. “It’s outgrossed big international hits like Resident Evil, XXX, John Wick 2 and The Great Wall.”

Well Go USA is targeting Koreans living in the U.S. as well as genre fans in major cities for the film’s initial theatrical rollout. The company will then cast a broader net post-theatrical.

Noted Marchetti: “As we get closer to the home video/digital release, we’ll be releasing new trailers and new materials to make sure the genre fans, who love to collect films like this, know what kind of wild ride they’re in store for.”

Bluebeard will bow in fifteen theaters in major markets Friday and will platform out after that based on performance. Added Marchetti: “We’re also continuing to play festivals and independent arthouse theaters throughout the next few months leading in to the digital/home video release.”

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