Thursday, June 30, 2016

Distribution: Searching Fox Searchlight / A24 Sets Dates for American Honey, Moonlight and Picks Up Women / Seeing the First Trailer for Bleed for This

Howdy folks and welcome to Thursday at MTFB


Continuing our look at film distribution companies who have had notable profiles at the Telluride Film Festival over the past decade or so, today we take a look at the outfit that has been the fourth most consistent player in that time frame: Fox Searchlight.

Since 2004, the film company has been represented at Telluride each year but two: 2009 and 2012. In that time FS has averaged 1.4 films per year.  Fox Search has also had Best Picture Oscar winners at Telluride in Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave and Birdman.  So you have to believe that if Fox Searchlight thinks its git a film that can play, they'll pursue a slot at T-ride.

Here's what we have seen from them at Telluride over the past 12 years:

2004: Kinsey
2005: Bee Season
2006: The Last King of Scotland, The Namesake
2007: Juno, The Savages
2008: Slumdog Millionaire
2009: ZIP
2010: Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, Black Swan, Millions
2011: Shame, The Descendants
2012: ZIP
2013: 12 Years a Slave
2014: Birdman, Wild
2015: He Named Me Malala

So what's in the Fox Searchlight larder as I write?  According to the latest IMDb entries here's what FS has in play as we move into the fall:

Birth of a Nation

That's it.  Two films.

If you look back to last Friday's Ten Bets list you'll see that I have Craig Johnson's Wilson ranked at #1.  The reasons are clear.  In addition to being on Fox Searchlight's very short list in combination with their long Telluride history, the film also is being produced by Telluride regular and former Guest Director Alexander Payne.  Payne, at one point, was set to direct the film itself.

I'd be very surprised if Wilson is not at Telluride.

Then there's The Birth of a Nation.  Nate Parker took Sundance by storm winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award.  Fox Searchlight dropped a ton of dough (north of $17 million) for the rights to distribute the film.

As you know, normally that Sundance play would be enough to mean that I wouldn't even consider it as a Telluride possibility.  As I have written here any number of times, Telluride has made rare exceptions for Sundance films to their "North American premiere" rule.  Sembene! (2015), The An Education (2009) and The Savages (2007) are the rare examples of exceptions.

It's worth noting that The Savages was a Fox Searchlight film and was executive produced by...Alexander Payne.

Also, I have to say that I have been seeing/hearing some rumbles that this film could be one of those exceptions.  Scott Feinberg suggested a Telluride play might be in the works back in April ( and since there have been others who have suggested that it could happen.  It's been a hot enough rumor that I included Birth of a Nation in the "Close" list of films just below the Ten Bets last week.

So...odds for Telluride:

Wilson 90%
Birth of a Nation 50%


American Honey trailer via YouTube

Distributor A24 has announced release dates for two films that both made last week's Ten Best list. Andrea Arnold's American Honey has been set for Sept. 30th and Barry Jenkins Moonlight has been set for Oct. 21st.  Both openings will be limited on those dates and expansions then planned for both films.

American Honey was listed at #6 and Moonlight at #7 last Friday on MTFB's first Telluride Ten Bets list.  A new Ten Bets list will be posted tomorrow.

The release dates for both out them in positions to play Telluride, Venice and/or Toronto.  That date for American Honey indicates that it's off the table for the B+New York Film Fest.  Moonlight's date leaves it in play for NYFF.

Coverage of the announcement is here-including's speculation that American Honey "may be a part of the Telluride/Toronto film lineups":

Meanwhile, the news broke yesterday afternoon that A24 had nabbed the distribution for Mike Mills' 20th Century Women.  That's a film I've mentioned a couple of times and this acquisition makes the film somewhat more Telluride-probable.  Here's a number of links to coverage of the buy, many of which suggest a fall fest play but I couldn't find a mention of Telluride specifically.


Ben Younger's Bleed for This has been a blip on my TFF #43 radar this spring into summer.  I'm aware of it and it's from Open Road which brought last year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, Spotlight, to Telluride.  It may be Open Road's best shot to return to The SHOW as its other big player is Oliver Stone's Snowden which is possible for Telluride but my feel for it at this point is that it's maybe more likely for TIFF/NYFF/AFI.  Anyway...

A trailer for the film came down the pike yesterday.  Here it is via YouTube:

Not for nothing is it noted that one of the executive producers of the film is Martin Scorsese who has had a common presence in Telluride as a producer in recent years.  The film is also dated to open on November 4th.  Possible?

Here are a series of stories that accompanied the trailer's arrival yesterday:

That's Thursday's blog post.  Come back tomorrow for a new Ten Bets for TFF #43

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