The Place Beyond the Pines and Thale are among the films that have scored recent distribution deals at the Toronto International Film Festival, which has long been considered an unofficial market.
They appear to be opposites, as far as pedigree and prospects go. The Place Beyond the Pines represents the re-teaming of Ryan Gosling, who stars, and Derek Cianfrance, who co-wrote the script and directed. Blue Valentine, their previous collaboration, earned Michelle Williams an Academy Awards nomination, and it may be that Pines will do likewise for Gosling.
Thale, written and directed by Aleksander L. Nordaas (who also served as cinematographer, editor, production designer) features no Hollywood stars, and no real Academy Award possibilities, though the image of a naked woman with a tail is possibly more marketable than a picture of Ryan Gosling leaning on his motorcyle and staring moodily into the distance. In the U.S., Thale is further hobbled because it's not in English, which makes it more difficult to place in theaters.
Despite their differences, Thale and The Place Beyond the Pines share several important elements in common: they are both independent films, made on relatively small budgets, and represent the visions of their respective filmmakers. And they will both, no doubt, head into theaters and/or various Video on Platform platforms with modest expectations.
The most important consideration for potential viewers is access and availability. If we hear good things about a movie, we want to see it as soon as possible. Though I haven't seen Pines, I have seen Thale, and hope that more people will get to see what Aleksander L. Nordaas has accomplished. Both are expected to be released in early 2013.
Last year, You're Next played in the Midnight Madness section at TIFF and instantly emerged with tremendously positive buzz, as well as a distribution deal with Lionsgate. Everyone wanted to see it when it screened at Fantastic Fest later in the month, especially when it was announced that the film would not be released for another year.
A second screening was cancelled, however, which made the sole remaining screening a very hot ticket indeed, and doubled the frustration factor when very few tickets were made available, and tripled it when the lucky (relatively) few who saw it fairly well sang and danced about how good it was.
Like the majority of festival attendees, I couldn't get a ticket, but, hey, it's only a movie, right? And I heard over and over that it was so good, it would be worth waiting a measly 12 months or so to see it in a proper theater. And then this morning I heard via Twitter (sourced from Collider) that the theatrical release had been pushed to August 2013.
My instantaneous reaction was to unleash hell, which in my case means tweeting about it in a very passive-aggressive manner until my anger cooled off. A small sampling:
Peter A. Martin @peteramartin
"Eh, I heard that movie sat on the shelf for 2 years. Can't be that good. Let's see something else." "OK." #conversationsfrom2013
"What do you want to see?" "Let's see the one that's the oldest!" "Great idea -- who needs new movies?" #ohifonly
"Well, CABIN THE WOODS sat on the shelf for 4 years, and YOU'RE NEXT for only 2 years, so it must be only half as good." #bizmakemecrazy
New slogan for #FantasticFest: "See the movies that are so good they won't play in theaters for 2-3 years!"
"Well, yes, I saw it last year and thought it was amazing. But the rest of you surely can shut up and wait another year, right?"
Now, just like any distributor, Lionsgate has to do what they think is best in order to maximize the potential audience for their movies. The company acquired Summit Entertainment in January 2012, and so there also had to be, I imagine, cooperation with the films already on Summit's slate.
Lionsgate releases the (reportedly) very violent Dredd in the U.S. on September 21; Summit releases the eerie ghost story Sinister on October 12 (recently delayed a week from its original date); Paramount pushes out Paranormal Activity 4 on October 19, and Open Road finishes up the prime month of horror with Silent Hill: Revelation on October 26.
Lionsgate could have pushed You're Next into November, but then it would be competing with Universal's The Man with the Iron Fists, which would be dividing the violent movie crowd. In view of the competition, and considering that You're Next doesn't have any big stars, it may be that August 23, 2013 is the primo time to release the film.
But it doesn't make the waiting any easier.
On the other hand, the wait for The Thick of It is over, though if you live in the U.S., you may not have realized it.
The fourth series of Armando Ianucci's brilliant, profoundly profane political satire premiered on BBC Two last Saturday evening and was made available in the U.S. on Sunday, exclusively via streaming service Hulu. The service boasts more than 2 million paid subscribers (including myself) to Hulu Plus, which grants access on TV and mobile devices.
The downside to Hulu Plus is that it still interrupts most programs with commercials, as opposed to Netflix, which charges the same monthly price ($7.95) for its streaming service but offers commercial-free programming. It's disconcerting to stream a 20-minute Buster Keaton short and be interrupted multiple times for commercials that appear to be inserted by time code. Happily, the Criterion titles on offer do not suffer the same fate.
The upside to Hulu Plus is being able to enjoy a show like The Thick of It so soon after it airs, without having to wait months or years. My only real complaint with Episode 1 was the absence of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), spin doctor extraordinarie, who will return shortly.
For me, it's a great deal. When I hear great things about a movie or TV show, I want to see it as quickly as possible. As Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.
"Hollywood Beat" is a weekly column on the U.S. film and TV industry.