THE DISTRIBUTORS 2018: FOCUS FEATURES
Normally, I would have examined the Focus Feature lineup a bit later in the process because their TFF participation has been spotty over the last dozen years. These are the Focus films that have played Telluride since 2006:
2006- Catch a Fire
2012- Hyde Park on Hudson
So, why evaluate them this early? I have a couple of reasons. First, I think Focus really benefited last year with Darkest Hour playing TFF #45. It ended up with two Oscar wins (for Gary Oldman's performance and for Best Makeup/Hair) and another four Oscar nominations.
The second reason is that Focus has, on paper, a very good slate of films going into the fall:
Asghar Farhadi's Everybody Knows (no release date yet)
Joel Edgerton's Boy Erased (Sept. 28)
Mimi Leder's On the Basis of Sex (Nov. 9)
Josie Rourke's Mary Queen of Scots (Dec. 7)
All of which have at least a shot at making the fest. I'm guessing Focus lands at least one of these at Telluride and, for the first time since I started covering TFF, maybe two films.
Here's my analysis for each:
Cruz and Bardem on the set of Everybody Knows
Everybody Knows- Farhadi directs Penelope Cruz (a past TFF Tribute recipient in 2006) and Javier Bardem in a Spanish language mystery. This would seem the most likely fit for TFF as it checks off a number of TFF boxes: It was a Cannes film, Farhadi's past with the fest and Cruz's past tribute status. However, the critical reception to the film at Cannes was less than enthusiastic. As a matter of fact, the Reini Urban composite critical rankings had it at 19th of the 21 competition films. Ouch.
Boy Erased- Edgerton directs Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Lucas Hedges and himself in a film that tackles the issue of gay conversion therapy. That's a lot of acting and Oscar firepower in one film and the film has a timely hot button issue. Chances 40%.
On the Basis of Sex- Looks at the rising career of a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In light of the success and buzz around the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary, RBG, and Ginsburg's legendary status...this film is expected to be high profile. With a buzzy cast including Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer and Justin Theroux. Chances 40%.
Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots- The story of the struggle for power and the British throne between Mary and Elizabeth I. The film features red hot actresses Margot Robbie as Elizabeth and Saoirse Ronan as Mary and both women are coming off of Oscar nominations last year. Robbie for I. Tonya and Ronan for Lady Bird. Additionally, Ronan is rumored to have been the probable third tribute last year that did not happen (due to filming schedule conflicts-at a guess). Chances 40%.
As a gauge...here were my guesses for Focus Films last year. That Darkest Hour % looks a little silly in retrospect.
Victoria and Abdul 35%
Darkest Hour 10%
Phantom Thread 0%
Bottom line is that I think Focus will be back at Telluride this year.
WERNER'S NEW PROJECT
The Playlist reported yesterday that Telluride regular Werner Herzog has signed on to Executive Produce and direct (at least some episodes) of Fordlandia based on Greg Grandin's Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name.
Fordlandia outlines the true story of Henry Ford's attempt to create a small town America in the Amazonian jungle.
No details about when we could see episodes on the USA Network, which owns the rights to the book.
You'd have to think that, depending on what timeline occurs, that some episodes would be screened as a part of TFF #46 in 2019.
I'll keep an eye open for further information.
ANOTHER ANGEL COULD BE IN PLAY
Sorry Angel still via Indiewire
Variety reports that Strand Releasing has obtained the distribution rights for Cannes Palme competition film Sorry Angel fro director Christophe Honore.
The film played to fair-ish reviews at Cannes but was not an award winner at the end of that fest.
The Variety story says that Strand plans a fall release for the film. Strand has had an occasional presence at Telluride which suggests that we ought to keep it in mind as a potential TFF #45 selection.
The Variety story is here.
That's your Friday MTFB. Have a great weekend and come back for more on Monday.
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