A4’s supernatural horror Talk To Me opens the debut film by Australian brothers and popular YouTubers Danny and Michael Philippou on 2,300 screens. Strong reviews (see Deadline’s here), A24 large built-in fan base and its elevated horror cred saw a Thursday gross of $1.25 million, looking to top a $4-5M weekend.
The Sundance-premiering pic follows a group of friends who discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand and become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces. Michael Philippou gleefully freaked out a Comic-Con event last week with a stunt that saw him possessed by an embalmed hand before meeting what appeared to be a bloody end. Stars Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, Otis Dhanji and Joe Bird. Written by Bill Hinzman and Danny Philippou.
Limited openings: Music Box Pictures presents The Unknown Country by Morissa Maltz starring Lily Gladstone (The Killers of the Flower Moon), who was also a key contributor to the story. With Lainey Bearkiller Shangreux, who also produced, and Raymond Lee. Maltz’ first feature debuted at SXSW, Deadline review here. The film opens in NY, LA and Spearfish, South Dakota, where much of it is shot, and where it held its premiere earlier this week. Gladstone was there, and is headlining Q&As this weekend, which rather momentous after the production inked an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA for promotion, one of the first the guild is known to have approved. She plays is Tana, who travels across country after the death of her grandmother, reconnecting with her Oglala Lakota roots through the people she meets along way in the film that took shape over four years with a very small cast and crew.
“The production was relentless in making that case to SAG-AFTRA and obtaining the interim agreement that would allow for promotion,” said Kyle Westphal, head of theatrical sales for Music Box. The distributor tried to help, “the actors helped. It was kind of an all- hands-on-deck” to get that waiver. “It is important that this actually happens,” he said for indies that aren’t AMPTP affiliated. Stars buzzing about their films on social media are key, opening Q&As “tried and true…a way to say, ‘Hey, we can compete,’ “drive buzz and help audiences find out about the film.”
Magnolia Presents Kokomo City by D. Smith at New York’s IFC Center, expanding to LA, Atlanta and other markets next week. Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Stacy Barthe and William Melillo are executive producers on the doc, a feature debut that passes the mic to four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City to unapologetically break down the walls of their profession. The film won the Sundance’s NEXT Innovator Award and NEXT Audience Award and the Berlinale’s Audience Award in the Panorama Documentary section. Rasheeda Williams, one of the trans women featured in the award-winning documentary, was shot to death in Atlanta in April.
Greenwich Entertainment presents Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s true-crime drama The Beasts at the Film Forum in NYC, moving to LA’s Laemmel’s Royal next weekend followed by a national expansion. The film, which swept nine awards at the Goyas (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor(Denis Ménoche), is set in a Galician farming village where a middle-class couple (Ménoche and Marina Foïs) committed to organic farming settle uneasily among poor farmers who have struggled for generation to earn a living from the land. Two angry brothers, Xan (Luis Zahera) and Lorenzo (Diego Anido) take on the idealistic pair. Written by Sorogoyen and Isabel Peña.
National Geographic Films presents documentary Bobi Wine; The People’s President by Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo in NY and LA. The pop star turned activist and politician in his native Uganda debuted in Venice, Deadline review here. Born in the slums of Kampala, Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine risks his life and the lives of his family to fight a ruthless regime and run in the country’s 2021 presidential elections. Wine uses his music to denounce the dictator and to support his life mission of defending the oppressed and the voiceless.
Event: Travis Scott’s Circus Maximus saw AMC add 3,500 showtimes at 170 locations through next Thursday after the giant chain said fans turned out strong last night for screenings ahead of the release of his album Utopia (out today). The Grammy-nominated musician only announced the opening of the film — directed by himself, Gaspar Noe, Valdimar Jóhannsson, Nicolas Winding Refn, Harmony Korine and Kahlil Joseph — on social media Tuesday. It’s billed as “A mind-bending visual odyssey across the globe, woven together by the speaker rattling sounds from Travis Scott’s album “Utopia.”
IFC Films/RLJE Films presents Sympathy for the Devil by Yuval Adler starring Nicolas Cage and Joel Kinnaman in 28 locations. Written by Luke Paradise. After being forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint, a man finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.