The specialty box office is headed towards the second star on the right and straight on till morning with Benh Zeitlin’s magical adventure Wendy, a fresh reimagination of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan. The pic from Searchlight Pictures is Zeitlin’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was released in 2012.
Co-written by Zeitlin and his sister Eliza, Wendy isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth from Disney’s animated feature, rather it speaks to Zeitlin’s hyperealstic aesthtetic. The film, which debuted at Sundance this year, stars newcomer Devin France in the titular role of Wendy, based on the Peter Pan heroine Wendy Darling. In Zeitlin’s vision of Neverland, Wendy and her friends get whisked away by a boy named Peter where they get lost on a mysterious island where no one ages and time stands still. All is fun and games with their newfound freedom, but when a mix of homesickness and a threat to their childhood surface, Wendy must fight to save her family, freedom and the spirit of youth that they all will lose to the deadly peril of growing up.
Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was also released by Searchlight, put him on the map when it made its world premiere at the Sundance in 2012. It went on to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and landed at Cannes, where it won the Caméra d’Or after competing in the Un Certain Regard section. It also was a breakout role for Quvenzhané Wallis who, at 9, became the youngest actress to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination. The film also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay eight years ago now.
Wendy has big shoes to fill when it comes to box office, but it is certainly up for the challenge. Beasts of the Southern Wild opened in June 2012 in limited release and grossed $169,702 in its debut. As it expanded and buzz caught on, it ended up grossing over $12 million domestic and crossed the $21 million mark globally.
The film also stars Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Romyri Ross, Ahmad Cage and Krzysztof Meyn. Searchlight is giving the film a limited release starting today in New York at the Angelika and the Landmark 57 as well as in Los Angeles at the Arclight Hollywood and Landmark West. The film will then roll out over the next three to four weeks across North America.
Check out the trailer below.
Also opening this weekend is the Andrew Heckler-directed Burden — which has been and certainly will continue to be a topic of cinematic conversation as it hits many hot-button issues when it comes to identity politics and race.
Based on a true story, the film revolves around the opening in a small South Carolina town of a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan. Forest Whitaker steps into the role of the idealistic Reverend Kennedy, who resolves to do everything in his power to prevent long-simmering racial tensions from boiling over. The members of his congregation are shocked to discover his plan includes sheltering Mike Burden (Garret Hedlund), a Klansman who is re-examining his long-held beliefs.
The film debuted at Sundance in 2018 where it won the Audience Award for drama. Burden marks another release for David Glasser’s 101 Studios, which launched last year. Their first film, The Current War, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, went on quite a journey before it hit theaters last October. The Nikolai Tesla pic starring Benedict Cumberbatch debuted north of $2.6 million in its limited release and went on to bank over $11 million globally. The company looks to add to its till with Burden.
Burden also stars Tom Wilkinson, Andrea Riseborough, Tess Harper, Crystal Fox and Usher. Producers are Robbie Brenner (Dallas Buyers Club) and Bill Kenwright. Hedlund, Whitaker, Wilkinson, Riseborough, Gabriela Revilla Lugo, Jeff Kwatinetz, Kevin Mckeon, Dan Farah, Gary Raskin, Charles Dombeck, Alastair Burlingham, Jeffrey Hecktman, Anna Chi, Scooter Braun, Robert Jones, Steve Potts, Jonathan Rae, Su Xue Qing, Zach Vella, Michelle Mason, Kaily Smith, Robert Gilpin, Wayne Marc Godfrey, David C. Glasser, David Hutkin and Bob Yari are executive producers.
Burden opens in five locations starting today. Watch the trailer below.
Big Lebowski fans will rejoice this weekend as Screen Media Films will release the spinoff The Jesus Rolls written, directed and starring John Turturro. He is joined by the all-star cast of Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, Pete Davidson and Susan Sarandon.
Turturro reprises his role as Big Lebowski fan-fave Jesus Quintana, who is released from prison for good behavior. When he reunites with his best friend Petey (Cannavale), they immediately begin to make bad life choices. They steal a vintage car parked in front of an upscale salon and go on a joyride. But the car’s owner (Hamm) catches up with them and ends up wounding Petey. They flee the scene with free-spirited shampooist Marie (Tautou) and go on a crime spree amid a developing three-way romance.
A tribute to the classic French farce Les Valseuses, The Jesus Rolls is another directing venture for Turturro. His last film, Fading Gigolo, debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013 and went on to earn over $22.7 million worldwide. His character of Jesus Quintana first appeared in the Coen Brothers’ cult favorite Big Lebowski. It earned $17.5 million domestic and raked in $46 million worldwide. It had a re-release in 2018 where it earned a little over $590,000. That said, we’ll see this weekend if the Lebowski fans will come out to see what Jesus has been up to.
Watch the trailer below.
After premiering at SXSW last year, Oscilloscope Laboratories will bring Saint Frances to theaters starting today. at the Austin-based fest, the film won the Audience Award in the Narrative Feature Competition and a Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice.
The film follows flailing 34-year-old Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan), who finally catches a break when she lands a much-needed job nannying 6-year-old Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams) and meets an actual nice guy. But an unwanted pregnancy and abortion introduce an unexpected complication. To add to that, she often clashes with Frances and there is a growing tension between Frances’ moms. As a result, Bridget and Frances develop an unlikely friendship.
This weekend will also see the debut of the Paul Solet-directed Tread, which tells the true story of Marvin Heemeyer and his bulldozer rampage of Granby, a small town in Colorado. The spree destroyed 13 buildings and caused over $8 million worth of damage. Many thought what he did was an act of heroism, while others see him as a villain. The film premired at SXSW last year and is produced by Doug Liman, Sean Stuart and Glen Zipper.
Michael Winterbottom, who is best known for The Trip franchise and The Killer Inside Me, is set to release his latest pic Greed this weekend. Steve Coogan leads the satire based on controversial UK billionaire Philip Green and takes aim at the super-rich and their lives of excess. Joining Coogan in the film are Isla Fisher, Asa Butterfield, Sophie Cookson, David Mitchell, Stephen Fry and Shirley Henderson.
The Indican Pictures documentary Lost In America directed by Rotimi Rainwater and executive produced by Rosario Dawson, also bows today. The feature dives deep for an unflinching look at America’s epidemic of youth homelessness in America. A former Navy veteran and homeless youth, Rainwater gives a first-hand look at the issue with interviews with more than 30 youth in 15 cities, as well as politicians and public figures including Tiffany Haddish, Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Miley Cyrus, Sanaa Lathan, Rebecca Gayheart-Dane and others.