Laure Calamy, who plays Noémie, the wacky assistant to Mathias Barneville in Call My Agent!, won the César (French equivalent of the Oscars) for Best Actress for My Donkey, My Lover & I, the film by Caroline Vignal that opens this weekend Stateside from Greenwich Entertainment. It’s the distributor’s second narrative film in a year and its widest release since The Rescue.
Wide here means 52 screens in 28 markets in the U.S. where the specialty box office can still be pretty punishing, especially for foreign language fare. Greenwich has been releasing about two film a month, mostly documentaries. My Donkey (Antionette Dans Les Cévennes in French) is Calamy’s first starring film role. It has a theatrical window through August 30.
Netflix’ hit French series became a U.S. and global phenomenon over four seasons, recently sparking a U.K. adaptation
It’s a sort of summer vacation movie with Calamy as a lovelorn and stalker-ish fifth grade teacher having an affair with the married father of one of her students and looking forward to spending time with him over summer break while his wife and kid are at the beach. But he cancels when the wife opts for a family trekking holiday in the Cevennes, a French national park famous for hiking with donkeys to carry the packs. Undeterred, Antoinette also book a a trip with her own cantankerous mule.
Given current U.S. market conditions, “I don’t want to overstate it. But it worked well in [other] English speaking markets around the world,” said Greenwich co-president Ed Arentz.
The film debuted at [digital] Cannes in 2020 and was a surprise Covid-era hit. notably in Australia and New Zealand, where the theatrical business remained relatively solid in 2021. It grossed over $1 million for Australia’s Palace Films.
Aside from Nope, there’s not much new opening this weekend in wide release or specialty. There have been a handful of films lately targeting older female demos, like Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris and Where The Crawdads Sings. Both opened solidly last weekend, Mrs. Harris on just under 1,000 screens, Crawdads wide.
But indie distributors haven’t cracked the riddle of core older audiences yet. Some “are going to be hardcore, regardless of how prevalent Covid is, and are going to stick to their homes. So hopefully we’ll get them August 30,” Arentz said.
My Donkey, written by Vignal, also stars Benjamin Lavernhe, and Olivia Côte.
Other specialty openings: Magnolia Pictures presents hybrid documentary My Old School, directed by Jono McLeod and starring Alan Cumming. The film, which premiered at Sundance, opens in NYC at Film Forum then rolls into other markets including LA (Laemmle), Chicago, Boston and San Francisco with about 40 to 50 theaters booked so far.
A true story of the mysterious new student at a Scottish boarding. In 1993, Brandon Lee enrolled at Bearsden Academy, surprising teachers by blazing toward his goal of entering medical school and displaying a wealth of knowledge beyond his years. He found friends despite his initial awkwardness, taking bullied students under his wing, introducing classmates to seminal retro bands, and starring in the school’s production of South Pacific — before his unbelievable secret was revealed.
Vertical Entertainment opens the Tribeca-premiering Katie Holmes romantic comedy Alone Together in limited release. Holmes stars a New York City food critic upstate for a supposedly temporary romantic getaway to escape the pandemic. She finds her room’s been double booked by recently single Charlie. Then her boyfriend to stay in the city to take care of his parents. As the spring unfolds, the couple develops an unexpected intimacy against the continuous background of early lockdown life. Written and produced by Holmes. Also stars Zosia Mamet, Jim Sturgess, Derek Luke, Becky Ann Baker, Melissa Leo.
The Nan Movie, written by Catharine Tate and Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein, and based on the foul-mouthed grandmother from Tate’s BBC sketch comedy series The Catharine Tate Show. In limited theatrical release — NY, LA, Orlando, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul — and on demand. With Tate, Matthew Horne, Katherine Parkinson, Parker Sawyers, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor, Jack Doolan, Niky Wardley.
Yas Raj Film presents Hindi film Shamshera by Karan Malhotra starring Ranbir Kapoor. Indian films, from Bollywood and beyond, have become stalwarts of the U.S. specialty box office. They open day and date, and this looks promising. A slave fights to free his warrior tribe from a ruthless general. Deadline highlighted Bollywood and the pic recently.