Focus Features presents Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, a twisty psycho-thriller with a great soundtrack, as Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch goes wider, testing the appeal of a director whose films have been called the arthouse equivalent of Marvel.
Last Night, a time-bending genre tale, unspools on just over 3,000 screens — not exactly specialty but it’s from a writer-director who “can dip his toe into anything, a true specialty film, a more commercial film like Baby Driver, and now a psychological thriller that harkens back to Hitchcock, Brian De Palma and David Lynch,” said Focus distribution president Lisa Bunnell. It’s “more than a typical commercial slasher movie. It takes the thriller genre to a new level.”
The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and screened at TIFF, where it resonated strongly with preview and festival audiences. Deadline’s review “called it a dark and delicious trip.” Last Night in Soho has a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie — with an ensemble including Matt Smith, Terence Stamp and the late Dame Diana Rigg. Producers are Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Laura Richardson and Wright.
McKenzie plays Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer who’s mysteriously able to enter the 1960s, where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie (Taylor Joy). But the glamour is not all it appears to be, and dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.
Taylor-Joy’s debut music video of her rendition of the classic ’60s hit “Downtown,” originally made famous by Petula Clark but slowed for the film’s eerie themes, is at 15 million views. The film features iconic 1960s voices from Dusty Springfield’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” Cilla Black’s “You’re My World,” The Kinks’ “Starstruck” and Barry Ryan’s “Eloise.” Focus released a limited edition 7-inch vinyl of the “Downtown” single.
Wright is presenting a series of his favorite classic films for Alamo Drafthouse and has been appearing at theaters ahead of the Last Night opening. On Thursday, he took over the @Twittermovies handle, which has 6.8 million followers. “Edgar is very dedicated to the theatrical experience,” said Bunnell. “He understands that is the best way to go see a film. This is really one of those movies you need to see in a theater.”
The marketing push for Last Night includes an exclusive Snap Lens created for fans to use on social and a television campaign across broadcast and cable including the NFL, The Bachelorette, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, along with local and national radio
The film was the inaugural red-carpet premiere at the new Academy Museum this past Monday.
The specialty audience, which is heavy on older demos, has been slower to return to theaters. “There will always be a place for arthouse and specialty film, but all of us have to learn to adapt and it’s a learning process,” said Bunnell. “In my opinion there is too much of an emphasis on ‘Is it back?’”
Last Night in Soho trailer:
“Is it back?,” however, is just what the industry has been wondering since last weekend after The French Dispatch jolted the glum arthouse market in 42 locations with a $26K per-screen average — a record for the Covid era. It rolls out to 788 theaters and over 60 markets this weekend ahead of a further expansion to over 1,200 theaters on Nov. 5.
Anderson’s tenth film brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. The cast features Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson..
Disney is releasing Searchlight Pictures’ classy horror thriller Antlers from Scott Cooper in over 2,800 theaters. In an isolated Oregon town, a middle school teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) become embroiled with her enigmatic student (Jeremy T. Thomas) whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature. Deadline review here.
Based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by Nick Antosca, the film is produced by horror maestro Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer and J. Miles Dale.
Searchlight said Antlers grossed an estimated $370K in early show previews last night.
A24 opens Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton and Richard Ayoade in two theaters ahead of an expansion next week (locations to be determined). It’s a rare arthouse sequel, one that follows from 2019’s The Souvenir, a semi-autobiographical account of Hogg’s experiences at film school.
In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship with a charismatic and manipulative older man, Julie (Swinton Byrne) begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. It’s a portrait of the artist and a story of first love and a young woman’s formative years.
The film was a selection at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight (Deadline review here) and the New York Film Festival.
Elsewhere in specialty: Netflix is opening Passing. Written and directed by Rebecca Hall, it just garnered a pile of nominations for the Gotham Awards including Best Picture. Based on the novel by Nella Larsen, the movie follows two black women (Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga) who can pass as white and choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York. Deadline review here.
Passing opens in about 20 theaters in North American and 100 worldwide and Netflix plans to add runs next week. It hits the streamer on Nov, 19.
With Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and Alexander Skarsgard. Produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Margot Hand and Rebecca Hall.
Animated epic fantasy The Spine of Night with Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel and Joe Manganiello. From RJLE Films, written and directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King. An ambitious young man steals forbidden knowledge from a sacred plant, falls to its darker temptations and unleashes ages of suffering on mankind. As his power grows, those who stand against him are a daring tomb-robber, star-crossed lovers, a maniacal necromancer and winged assassins.
Relativity Media opens first-time feature writer-director Justine Bateman’s drama Violet, from SXSW and TIFF. With Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey and Justin Theroux. Munn plays Violet Calder, who realizes that she no longer can ignore the daily barrage of self-criticisms (voiced by Theroux) that clouds her life. Unsure how to live a life free from that self-doubt, like her childhood friend Red (Bracey), Violet realizes she has no choice but to travel the road that is more frightening to her than the fear that holds her back.
Sony Pictures debuts Amy Koppelman’s feature directorial debut A Mouthful of Air with Amanda Seyfried. Deadline review here. Seyfried is Julie Davis, mother of a young boy and wife to an understanding husband Ethan (Finn Wittrock) but with dark family secrets.
Greenwich Entertainment releases Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story
In 1986 Huntsville, Ontario, Beverly Glenn-Copeland wrote and self-released the folk-electronica hybrid cassette “Keyboard Fantasies.” Three decades later, the musician, now Glenn Copeland, receives acclaim for the recently rediscovered recording. Directed by Posey Dixon. It’s a day-and-date release with runs at NYC’s Roxy Cinema Tribeca and LA’s Laemmle Glendale.