Much maligned Richard III finally gets the royal treatment in Stephen Frears’ The Lost King as amateur historian Philippa Langley unearths the monarch’s five century-old remains in a parking lot in Leicester, England in 2012. Two books and a documentary later, IFC Films presents the feature film version in 750+ theaters.
“It took eight years from starting the search, to cutting the tarmac. To see it telescoped into a hundred or so minutes made it really powerful for me,” Langley, played in the film by Sally Hawkins, told Deadline.
Richard III (1461-1483) is one of Shakespeare’s most malevolent villains, a deformed hunchback usurper and murderer. But historians have contested the portrayal of the last king of the House of York and Plantagenet dynasty, noting history is often (re)written by the victors, in this case the Tudors. A society of “Ricardians” at work for years to rehabilitate the monarch’s image, and other well-wishers, chipped in to fund a costly excavation after a mix of solid scholarship and some intuition led Langley to the car park in Leicester and the skeleton of Richard, spine curved by scoliosis. It took her eight years to find him and two “to get him re-buried with dignity” by dispensation of Queen Elizabeth, who named Langley an MBE, or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
She thinks The Lost King screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope nailed it — including a plot device inserting King Richard (Harry Lloyd) into the film at key moments to urge Langley on despite setbacks and snubs by the academic establishment. Researching an historical figure, it’s “How do you get from A to B to C, and if there is a gap, how do you work out the gap in your knowledge? … The writers said, ‘This is what we’d like to do with it.’ At first, I was thinking ‘What?’ But when I saw the script, I said, ‘Okay, I see,’” said Langley. They showed “Shakespearean Richard at the start” in a production of the play, “and the historical Richard walking with me.”
Coogan also stars Langley’s husband John. The film premiered in Toronto. Deadline review here.
Her current research, The Missing Princes Project, examines the 1483 disappearance of Richard’s two nephews from the Tower of London. In Shakespeare, he had them murdered. Langley said she’s planning “to publish some very, very exciting discoveries later this year.” And yes, the team that made The Lost King “know these announcements are coming. They are aware.”
Other specialty openings: Blue Fox Entertainment presents the CGI family fantasy adventure School of Magical Animals at 300 locations. The German feature by Gregor Schnitzler based on the children series of the same name has grossed over $20 million internationally. Blue Fox is releasing the first English-dubbed version. At an unusual school where each child receives a magical animal as a companion, a new girl Ida goes from being outsider to star thanks to hers, a talking fox called Rabbat.
Mubi presents The Five Devils in NYC at the Angelika Film Center, expanding after to LA and other markets nationwide. The fable by Léa Mysius premiered at Cannes and won New Wave Best Picture at Fantastic Fest. See Deadline review. Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos, Sally Dramé, Swala Emati and Moustapha Mbengue. Eight-year-old Vicky (Dramé) has an unusual gift: she can recreate any scent she comes across, even that of her beloved mother Joanne (Exarchopoulos). When her estranged aunt suddenly returns to town, the invocation of her fragrance plunges the young girl back in time to unravel a mysterious and fiery past.
Sideshow and Janus Films open Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Tori And Lokita, winner of the 75th Anniversary Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The story of two immigrants struggling to survive on the margins of society stars Charlotte De Bruyne, Nadège Ouedraogo and Marc Zinga. It debuts at IFC Center after a weeklong Dardenne retrospective with La Promesse, Rosetta, The Son, L’Enfant, Lorna’s Silence, and The Kid With A Bike.
Kino Lorber presents The Worst Ones by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret, winner of the top prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes Set in the suburbs of Boulogne-Sur-Mer in northern France, it follows the production of a film whose director turns to a local housing project for casting. He chooses four working class teenagers to star in a quest for performances of gritty authenticity, to the surprise and consternation of the local community. As the project progresses, jealousies are stoked, lines are crossed, and ethical questions arise. Starring Mallory Wanecque, Loïc Pech, Timéo Mahaut, Mélina Vanderplancke Johan Heldenbergh, Esther Archambault and Matthias Jacquin. Opens this weekend at the Quad Cinema in New York before expanding to select theaters nationwide.
Cinema Guild presents Hong Sangsoo’s Walk Up in NYC at Film at Lincoln Center. Adding five cinemas next weekend, then expanding. Premiered at TIFF last year. “Hong has been on a hot streak, each of the last three films has been rapturously received by the fans. “We think Walk Up, and the way it plays with structure and time, presents an exciting opportunity to bring a lot of new followers to his work,” said the distributor, which released Hong’s other 2022 title, The Novelist’s Film.
Kwon Haehyo plays film director Byungsoo, who accompanies his daughter (Park Miso), an aspiring interior designer, to a building owned by an old friend established in the design field. She gives them a tour of the property, which includes a restaurant, office, residence and artist’s studio. The three chat and drink amicably until a business call pulls Byungsoo away. When he returns, it’s the same place, but a different time.
Greenwich Entertainment opens doc Nam June Paik: Moon Is The Oldest TV, directed by Amanda Kim and narrated by Steven Yeun, at the Film Forum in NYC with additional cities to follow. The story of the trailblazing artist, father of video art and coiner of the term “electronic superhighway.” Premiered at Sundance.
Abramorama presents What The Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears by John Scheinfeld opening in NY this weekend, then LA before hitting 50+ theaters nationwide. The rise and fall of a classic rock band.
Quiver Distribution presents Linda Yellen’s Chantilly Bridge in four theaters in Arizona, platforming to NY and LA next week. The story of a group of steadfast friends picks up the director’s 1993 Chantilly Lace 30 years later. Starring JoBeth Williams, Patricia Richardson, Jill Eikenberry, Ally Sheedy, Helen Slater, Talia Shire, Lindsay Crouse, Patricia Richardson and Najis Sky Adzimah.
Netflix opens Murder Mystery 2 by Jeremy Garelick staring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston at the Bay and Paris theaters ahead of a streaming release next week. The duo play Nick and Audrey Spitz, now full-time detectives in this sequel. They’re struggling to get their private eye agency off the ground when their friend, the Maharaja, is kidnapped at his lavish wedding on a private island. Also starring Adeel Akhtar, Mark Strong, Mélanie Laurent, Jodie Turner-Smith and Kuhoo Verma with John Kani, and Dany Boon.