Comedy ‘Babes’ Opens In Limited Release Stateside With Neon On The Move In Cannes – Specialty Preview

Babes by Pamela Adlon, co-written and starring Ilana Glazer, debuts in limited release with films by Hang Song-soo and Bertrand Bonello and docs on a controversial Venice Biennale, ground-breaking female clerics, and the Blue Angels Navy Squadron. A trio of festival favorites expand. While eyes now are on fare at Cannes — where Neon has been making high-profile moves — each week Stateside remains a test of indie film’s theatrical boundaries in a post-Covid, streaming-centric marketplace.

There have been notable hits (Neon’s Immaculate, IFC’s Late Night With The Devil, A24’s Love Lives Bleeding and Civil War; Bleecker Street’s One Life; Sony Pictures Classics’ Wicked Little Letters). A24’s I Saw The TV Glow by Jane Schoenbrun is having a nice run so far as is Evil Does Not Exist — Sideshow/Janus Films’ second outing with Ryusuke Hamaguchi after Oscar-winning Drive My Car. (That 2021 Japanese film about a theater director staging a production of Uncle Vanya saw a domestic box office of $2.35 million and $15.34 million worldwide.)

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But it’s far from clear yet where the dust will settling for the majority of indie films released each week. “The shortage of product we were told to expect is not a problem, it seems. There’s enough to show and theaters can double down on studio fare. So there just always seems to be something more enticing than a foreign-language indie,” says one distributor. Many remain dismayed at the absence of the Cinerama Dome and adjacent Arclight that’s made opening Los Angeles — and so generally opening an indie — magnitudes harder. The venue will hopefully be on-line again next year.

New limited openings: Comedy Babes, from Neon, debuts on 12 screens (in NY, LA, Austin, Boston, San Franciso). Stars Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau as childhood best friends, Eden and Dawn, who face adulthood differently and find their relationship tested when carefree and single Eden decides to have a baby on her own after a one-night stand. With Hasan Minhaj is Dawn’s husband. Premiered at SXSW, see Deadline review.

The feature directorial debut of Pamela Adlon, Emmy-nominated actor for FX’ Better Things, which she created with Louis C.K. She also voiced Bobby Hill in the animated comedy series King of the Hill. Glazer, who wrote Babes with Josh Rabinowitz, was co-creator and star of Broad City, the Comedy Central show she co-created with Abbi Jacobson. Neon has heft, and principals have been out and about including Glazer’s sit down John Stewart on The Daily Show Monday.

Babes arrives in theaters as Neon makes headlines in Cannes, snapping up North American rights to The Unknown, the next feature from Anatomy of a Fall writer Arthur Harari, and — in one of the first deal’s of the festival — to Julia Ducournau’s Alpha, whose Titane, also with Neon, won the Palme d’Or in 2021. The distributors is also active on the Croisette showcasing its new international sales strand.

Cinema Guild presents In Our Day by South Korean director Hong Sang-soo (his 30th feature), which premiered at Cannes a year ago as the closing film in Directors Fortnight. Opens at Film at Lincoln Center in NYC this week, adding nine markets next including Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The slice-of-life feature follows two storylines — a woman in her 40s (Kim Min-hee) living the home of a friend as she tries to figure out her next life move, and a poet in his 70s (Gi Ju-bong) living alone but with awkward visits by young acolytes.

Coma, from Film Movement, is the latest by Bertrand Bonello (The Beast, Zombi Child, Nocturama), a live action/animation/talking Barbie doll comedy fantasy that premiered at Berlin, see Deadline review. Opens at the Roxy Cinema in NYC. Stars Louise Labeque as an eighteen-year-old girl isolated in her bedroom during period of unprecedented world events. As she falls under the spell of the mysterious blogger Patricia Coma (Julia Faure), the lines between her dreams, fears, hopes and reality begin to blur.

Expansions: Jane Shoenbrun’s I Saw The TV Glow from A24 jumps to about 400 screens from 21.

Evil Does Not Exist by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, from Sideshow/Janus Films moves to 103 locations from 34.

Bill Ross and Turner Ross-directed Gasoline Rainbow from Mubi sees a limited expansion from one NYC screen to nine including Los Angeles (Nuart, Laemmle Glendale), San Francisco (Roxie Theater), Seattle (Grand Illusion), and Austin (Austin Film Society).

Documentaries: The Blue Angels from Imax, distributed by Amazon MGM, directed by Paul Crowder, starts an exclusive one-week run on Imax in 220+ U.S. theaters (and about 50 overseas) before its Prime Video debut. The film captures the precision flying and aerial acrobatics of the Navy’s elite Flight Demonstration Squadron. Filmed for Imax, footage puts viewers in the cockpit to view of the jet team’s maneuvers and the squadron’s selection process and training regimen.

It’s the first Imax original documentary under a re-launched strategy. Glen Powell, a licensed pilot (who played one in Top Gun: Maverick and Devotion) is a producer. Running before the screenings, a PSA for The Blue Angels Foundation created by Powell and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot.

Taking Venice from Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber opens at the IFC Center in NYC, adding the Laemmle Royal in LA next week. The Amei Wallach-directed doc is set at the height of the Cold War with the U.S. government determined to fight Communism with culture, possibly do just that at 1964 edition of the Venice Biennale, the world’s most influential art exhibition. Alice Denney, Washington insider and friend of the Kennedys, recommends Alan Solomon, an ambitious curator making waves with trailblazing art, to organize the U.S. entry. Together with Leo Castelli, a powerful New York art dealer, they embark on a daring plan to make Robert Rauschenberg the winner of the Grand Prize. The artist is yet to be taken seriously with his combinations of junk off the street and images from pop culture, but he has the potential to dazzle. Deftly pulling off maneuvers that could have come from a Hollywood thriller, the American team leaves the international press crying foul and Rauschenberg questioning the politics of nationalism that sent him there.

The Philadelphia Eleven, which opened in Memphis last week, has added markets (NYC, PA, Scottsdale AZ, Silver Spring MD) for the story by Margo Guernsey of 11 women who defied church patriarchy to be ordained as Episcopal priests in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s despite harassment, threats and being banned from Church property. Guernsey said the project struggled for eight years to secure financing until a group of laywomen and clergy came together in 2021 on a crowdfunding campaign that grew to 1,200+ individual donors. The director’s Time Travel Productions is working with mTuckman Media on distribution.

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