We're dead in the middle of the spring festival onslaught, with Tribeca and San Francisco just hitting their mid-points, IFFBoston about to wrap its event and Hot Docs getting ready to kick-off tomorrow. We went on our own mini-fest-tour earlier this month (Ashland and Sarasota - more on this later, but let's just say our assessment bore out) and we're trying to get our footing before we head up to Toronto next week. So much is happening, and here's a brief sample in a mid-week brief...
It was a big weekend at the theatrical box office for OCEANS, the new film from Oscar nominated filmmaker Jacques Perrin (WINGED MIGRATION) and distributor Disneynature. The film took in just over $6M for the weekend, after an Earth Day debut at the top of the charts on Thursday. That takes the film to $8.4M so far, with expectations that the film will reach the $10M mark by today. OCEANS took in nearly $5K per screen, which was the best average in the top 10.
Mystery seems to be paying off huge dividends for EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, the curious documentary from the anonymous artist known as Banksy. The film has taken in an $390,000 from a handful of screens (it expanded from 8 to 11 this weekend) for the best per screen average of any film in release, according to indieWIRE's weekly box office report, which also gives the back story of EXIT's unusual DIY release by sales rep John Sloss and a team that included Richard Abramowitz.
Also from Abramowith, Tom DiCillo's Doors documentary, WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE, took in another $24K in its third weekend, taking that film's total to just under $165,000.
As mentioned, Tribeca is heading for its closing weekend, with much of the doc talk surrounding the unstoppable force that is Alex Gibney. With two completed films (and a segment of omnibus doc FREAKANOMICS) at this year's fest, Gibney made a huge splash with his not-yet-completed UNTITLED ELIOT SPITZER FILM (we summed up the press coverage here) over the weekend.
But Gibney wasn't the only news at Tribeca. indieWIRE's Brian Brooks examines a potential controversy in the wake of Deborah Scranton's EARTH MADE OF GLASS. Cinematical's Christopher Campbell has a review of FREETIME MACHOS (which is also headed to Hot Docs). And at Movieline, S.T. Vanairsdale has a recap of the Q&A following Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's popular JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK. POV's Tom Roston finds that the Rivers doc changes his mind about the subject.
As the other April fests start wrapping up, it's worth noting the exceptional run Laura Poitras' THE OATH is having. It began the month with a Special Jury Prize at Full Frame, and followed that with two Grand Jury notations - at Sarasota and at IFFBoston. The film is heading to Hot Docs and then to the IFC Center where Zeitgeist will kick off its theatrical run next Friday. We'll be hosting the LA premiere at Cinefamily on May 18.
We finally got a chance to see THE OATH In Sarasota and it's a knockout, subtle and brilliant with one of the best scores in a documentary in years.
Two more of our favorite docs of 2010 also scored at Sarasota and Boston. Josh Fox' GASLAND, which has been getting deserved raves all year, received the Special Jury prize in Sarasota and Jeff Malmberg's terrific, complex MARWENCOL picked up the same award at IFFBoston. All three films will rank among the best in nonfiction in 2010.
Stuff worth reading: Yance Ford recaps her experience at Full Frame and considers the once and future festival. Raphaela Niehausen writes about Steven Soderbergh's appearance at Stranger Than Fiction for his Spalding Gray doc AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE. Anthony Kaufman considers the "documentary fictions" of the Soderbergh film and the Banksy doc. Kaufman also writes about the STF screening of Doug Block's latest THE KID GROWS UP. And completing his doc trifecta, Anthony writes about "art docs" for IFC.com. And finally, a post over at the IDA's news blog on a recent Supreme Court decision sparks a debate on first ammendment freedoms and animal cruelty.