Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire saw $2.5 million in Thursday previews as the Telugu action thriller opens in about 800 locations in North America. Bollywood superstar Shah Ruhk Kan toplines drama Dunki, his third film of the year after Pathaan and Jawan, both in the top ten of India’s highest-grossing films.
Presented by Moksha Movies/Pathyangira Cinemas, Salaar directed by Prashanth Neel, stars Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran in the story of a gang leader who makes a promise to a dying friend.
Indian films are a mainstay at the specialty box office, some weekends more than others. This is a big one. Key indie openings include Searchlight Pictures’ much-nominated All Of Us Strangers by Andrew Haigh; Michel Franco’s Memory from Ketchup Entertainment; Freud’s Last Session from Sony Pictures Classics’ and Music Box Pictures’ The Crime Is Mine, all in limited release.
On Salaar: Prabhas (Baahubali) is one of the biggest stars of Telugu cinema. Neel is known internationally for the K.G.F. franchise. KGF: Chapter 2 was the highest-grossing film in India last year, outpacing even S.S. Rajamouli’s record-breaking RRR.
Drama Dunki from Yas Raj Films, directed by Rajkumar Hirani, is in 686 theaters. The tale of four friends trying to emigrate illegally from Punjab to the U.K. has less action than Saalar, but is also has the King of Bollywood.
New in high-profile festival fare is All Of Strangers, opening on four screens in NY (AMC Lincoln Square and Angelika)and LA (AMC Century City and Landmark Sunset 5). Adam (Andrew Scott), a lonely screenwriter in a near-empty tower block in contemporary London, has a chance encounter with a mysterious neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal), which punctures the rhythm of his everyday life. As a relationship develops between them, Adam is preoccupied with memories of the past and finds himself drawn back to the suburban town where he grew up, and the childhood home where his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), appear to be living, just as they were on the day they died, 30 years before. Premiered at Telluride, see Deadline review.
Recently won seven BIFA (British Independent Film) dAwards and was nominated for four Gotham Awards and three Spirit Awards, a Golden Globe for Andrew Scott and Critics Choice Award for Andrew Haigh. It nabbed nine London Film Critics Circle nominations, the most of any film. The National Board of Review honored the film in its Top 10 Independent Films of the year.
(Searchlight also has Poor Things expanding to over 800 theaters in week three.)
Freud’s Last Session starring Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode opens in New York (Union Square, Cinemas 1,2,3, New Plaza Cinema) and Los Angeles (Grove, Royal). Directed by Matthew Brown. Premiered at AFI Fest, see Deadline review. Hopkins stars as founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in a private debate with The Chronicles of Narnia author and theologian C.S. Lewis (Goode) on the existence of God. Based on Mark St. Germain’s 2009 play of the same name, which itself was built on the 1967 Harvard lectures of Dr. Armond M. Nicholi — The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.
St. Germain adapted the play to the screen in collaboration with the director.
Memory by Michel Franco and starring Jessica Chastain opens in NY (AMC Lincoln Square) and LA (Century City). Moves to seven screens on Jan. 5. Sylvia (Chastain) is a social worker who leads a simple and structured life: her daughter, her job, her AA meetings. This is blown open when Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) follows her home from their high school reunion. Their surprise encounter will profoundly impact both of them as they open the door to the past. Premiered in Venice, see Deadline review. Sarsgaard tookthe Volpi Cup for Best Actor. Jessica Chastain was nomination for Best Lead Performance at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Both have appeared on numerous national talk shows including The Tonight Show, The View, and TODAY.
And Music Box Films opens François Ozon’s latest screwball comedy The Crime Is Mine on December 25. Playing New York (Quad), LA (Laemmle Royal), and Chicago (Music Box Theatre) on Monday. Expanding Jan. 5. The final installment in a trilogy of satirical farces including 8 Women and Potiche, it stars Nadia Tereszkiewicz (César award-winner for Most Promising Actress for Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s Forever Young) as struggling actress Madeleine who lives with best friend Pauline, an out of work lawyer played by Rebecca Marder (A Radiant Girl). They struggling to make ends meet but opportunity knocks when a lascivious theatrical producer turns up dead. Madeleine stands trial for murder and ascends to scandalous stardom, with Pauline serving as defense counsel and media circus ringmaster. Freely adapted by Ozon from a 1934 play by Georges Berr and Louis Verneuil. Screened at Unifrance’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema showcase in Paris. Premiered as the opening film at the Festival Premiers Plans d’Angers.