|THE AERONAUTSFILM FESTAERONAUTSTORONTO|
The successful specialized season chugs ahead as the top-tier hits add to their impressive totals. “Harriet” Focus, “Parasite” Neon, and “Jojo Rabbit” Fox Searchlight still hold the lead as recent titles haven’t reached the same levels. Three Netflix awards contenders, “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes” are not getting major theater play, although Martin Scorsese’s film might get close to $10 million. With no new films in the last couple weeks likely to explode over Christmas, that means that unlike most years, some of the strong earlier performers have more chances to thrive during Christmas.
They are competing with other well-reviewed, Oscar and adult friendly studio releases like “Ford v Ferrari” 20th Century Fox, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” Sony, and “Knives Out” Lionsgate, all competing for the same audience.
This week brought a preview of what will be an early 2020 specialized top film. Neon released high-end acclaimed French romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a one-week awards-qualifying run, which yielded excellent grosses for a subtitled film. They should do well after New Years when the current films are played out.
Meantime, Amazon’s pre-Prime release of “The Aeronauts” received very little interest in a national big market release.Opening
Portrait of a Lady on Fire Neon – Metacritic: 95; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2019
$67,105 in 2 theaters; PTA per theater average: $33,552
When you got it, flaunt it. Every year December sees a number of films open for one week to qualify for awards, then return in the new year for regular dates. And the grosses for these brief dates aren’t reported. Neon is releasing the numbers on Celine Sciamma’s Cannes and New York Film Critics’ and European Film Award winner, a period drama about a brief, intense relationship between a wealthy bride-to-be and the woman hired to paint her portrait. This is a French, subtitled film, more chamber drama than epic, with reviews at the top end of any releases this year ahead of crowdpleaser “Les Miserables,” which was selected by France.
As a subtitled film, it doesn’t rank with the staggering initial results for Neon’s “Parasite.” But compared to nearly all other foreign language titles, this is at the high end, more so with an relatively unknown director to American audiences and stars. These are huge numbers compared to most–the lesbian romance also carries strong queer appeal.
What comes next: This will return in initial dates on February 14.
Everything is delayed, canceled, or on hold at the moment due to the coronavirus COVID-19, which means that film festivals are having to make some tough choices. Cannes is postponed. SXSW was canceled, but they recently announced they would try to put together an online film festival with Amazon Prime Video. TIFF has yet to make a decision one way or another, but festival runners Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey mentioned last week that they were considering a potential digital festival. Digital film festivals are a distinct possibility in several locations, but there’s one fest that has flat-out refused to go digital: the Venice Film Festival.
With the coronavirus continuing to upend film festivals across the globe, some are wondering if virtual, online film festivals might be the solution for the time being. And while some fests – SXSW, TIFF – are open to this idea, the Venice Film Festival isn’t having it. Speaking with Variety, a Venice spokesperson said: “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event,” adding that “there is obviously the possibility that we use technology for some initiatives, [but] it’s too early for this to be decided.”
The Venice Film Festival is supposed to run in September, and as of now, everyone involved with the fest is still operating under the assumption that the festival is still on. Organizers have put out a call for “projects for its Final Cut in Venice co-production workshop dedicated to supporting works from the Middle East and Africa, currently scheduled to be held during the fest.”
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera was quoted as saying he and his team “are working just the same as in past years” and that they “cannot provide specifics about the future.” The only thing they can confirm is that no matter what happens, the festival will not go digital. While some are more than happy to accept the idea of a digital festival – no travel fees! – not everyone is okay with the idea. For one thing, if a film without distribution were to debut digitally and then immediately be pirated, it would hurt its chances at eventual purchase. Plus, many filmmakers and producers long for that festival buzz that can only be achieved by screening titles for a live audience.
But we remain in uncharted territory for the moment, and it’s unclear just when the coronavirus situation will end. As of now, Italy remains in strict lockdown, and if that continues into the fall, there’s very little chance the Venice Film Festival will go off as planned....
'There is still uncertainty about what 'people coming together again' will look like come September,' fest organizers said Thursday.
The 2020 Toronto Film Festival, set to run Sept. 10 to 20 in Toronto, is weighing options to go online and remain, where possible, with a physical event amid planning concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
Festival co-heads Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey on Thursday said they are moving ahead with planning for the traditional September event, but are considering moving some events online, if necessary, to comply with safety precautions during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We recognize that in planning for the Festival now, there is still uncertainty about what 'people coming together again' will look like come September. This is why we are looking at both onsite and digital innovations that will provide options that will deliver for our audiences, support filmmakers and our partners, and bolster the industry." Vicente and Bailey said in a joint statement.
As TIFF programmers plan for the September event, the festival says they have been collaborating with rival festivals that were earlier cancelled or delayed. "Our goal is to offer a united platform to share programming," Vicente said in a YouTube video.
"We have to refocus our energy while navigating the challenges presented by the currnt global crisis," Bailey added, as festival employees have begun to work remotely at home and the festival looks for new ways to stream movies.
Self-isolating Canadians have already been invited to virtual chats with Hollywood stars led by Bailey, followed by movie screenings on the Crave streaming service. The Stay-at-Home Cinema offers the virtual Q&As via Instagram Live @tiff_net, starting with Homeland star Mandy Patinkin, followed a streaming of Rob Reiner's 1987 film The Princess Bride, starring Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, on Crave.
Bailey is set to host at least the first three virtual chats with Hollywood stars and movie screenings, to include Sarah Polley being interviewed before streaming play for Away From Her on Crave, and Catherine O'Hara and production designer Bo Welch on April 3 talking about their work on Beetlejuice, which will also stream.
A TIFF industry conference has been set to run Sept. 11 to 15. Toronto and Ontario health officials earlier warned against mass gatherings in the province amid the virus outbreak.
Festival organizers have been hoping that the health crisis might have been contained in time for the annual September event, considered a traditional launch pad for Hollywood's awards season.
TIFF's Bell Lightbox headquarters and its five movie screens have been shutttered during the COVID-19 crisis, reducing operating revenues for the festival.
Toronto's disrupted plans for its September event come as a number of events and large gatherings have been...