Indie Films Opening June 21: ‘Kinds Of Kindness’, ‘Thelma’

Indie Films Opening June 21: ‘Kinds Of Kindness’, ‘Thelma’

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After knocking it out of the park with Poor Things last year, director Yorgos Lanthimos and star Emma Stone are back at the box office with Kinds Of Kindness from Searchlight, which looks set to shake up a sluggish arthouse market with the best limited opening this year.

The best PTA in 2024 so far is The Taste Of Things from IFC Films, which debuted at $43.4k on three screens back in February. Kinds of Kindness at five locations in New York (Angelika, AMC Lincoln Square) and LA (AMC Burbank, AMC Grove, AMC Century City) will pull ahead of that, significantly perhaps. The market’s been odd so it’s hard to say by how much yet. Tune in Sunday.

Also this weekend, Thelma, a crowd pleaser with a terrific June Squibb, launches on 1,280 screens, the widest release ever by distributor Magnolia Pictures. A24’s Janet Planet, the first feature by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker, debuts in New York. Vertical also boasts its widest release with The Exorcism starring Russell Crowe.

Kinds Of Kindness world premiered at Cannes, see Deadline review, with Jesse Plemons winning Best Actor, then hit the global festival circuit. It was no. 1 in Lanthimos’ native Greece when it opened the weekend of May 30.

The film is divided into three different stories with the same cast — an anthology described as a “triptych fable, following a man without choice who tries to take control of his own life; a policeman who is alarmed that his wife who was missing-at-sea has returned and seems a different person; and a woman determined to find a specific someone with a special ability, who is destined to become a prodigious spiritual leader.” The stories are named The Death of RMFRMF is Flying and RMF Eats a Sandwich – RFM being a silent, bearded man with a monogramed shirt.

Lanthimos (Poor Things, The Favourite, The Lobster, Dogtooth) wrote the screenplay with collaborator Efthimis Filippou. Stone, who took the Oscar Best Actress for Poor Things, and Plemons star with Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie, JoeAlwyn and Hunter Schafer. The cast has been making the rounds with Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Today show, Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Produced by Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney (Poor Things, The Favourite) and Andrew Lowe (Poor Things), Kasia Malipan (Poor Things), and Lanthimos.

Expands to about 500 theaters in major markets next week and over 1,000 the following.

Meanwhile, Magnolia is betting big with Thelma, the buzzy and poignant Sundance comedy it acquired out of the fest in a competitive situation. Deadline’s review called Josh Margolin’s feature debut a “hilarious, twilight-years action comedy.”

Oscar nominee June Squibb (Nebraska) rocks her first leading role at age 94 as the titular Thelma, an elderly grandmother scammed by a con artist impersonating her 24-year-old grandson Daniel. She mails a large amount of cash, no questions asked.

In real life, many millions have been lost to this common fraud. But Thelma, embarrassed and angry, is not taking it and sets off across L.A. on an electric scooter to track down the scammer and get her cash back. Fred Hechinger (The White Lotus) is Daniel, the slacker who loves his grandma. Parker Posey and Clark Gregg are his mom (Thelma’s daughter) and dad (her son-in-law). The late Richard Roundtree is her sidekick Ben.

This is a see it and love it film for most. But you need to see it. It’s about aging, with an older star, at a time when older audiences in general have been slow to return to theaters.

Magnolia CEO Dori Begley sees wider appeal. “The older audience will still occasionally come out for the right film but, beyond that expected demographic, younger audiences have shown great affection for sharp-tongued women of a certain age and Josh has expertly tapped into this adoration,” she tells Deadlne. “The team behind this film is also largely from a younger generation that doesn’t see their elders as props for tired punchlines, but as wise, fun, and entirely capable of driving smart comedy. Who better to embody this than June Squibb?”

To get the film in front of as many eyeballs as possible, Magnolia doubled down with that expansive release. “We knew if we could get it in front of a wider swath of the audience, everyone would fall in love.” Plus, “it’s great counter programming for a world on fire.”

“We’d been searching for a film to take a bigger swing on, but nothing really hit the mark until that first screening at Sundance. We were deeply impressed by [the director’s] deft navigation of genres, and ability to imbue the film with an intergenerational appeal that totally avoids pandering — quite unusual in the specialized space.”

Janet Planet from A24 opens at Lincoln Center and Angelika in NY, expanding next week. It’s the first film by Annie Baker, who won the Pulitzer in 2014 for her play The Flick.

Set in rural Western Massachusetts, it stars newcomer Zoe Zielger as 11-year-old Lacy, who ditches camp to spend the summer of 1991 at home, enthralled by her own imagination and the attention of her mother, Janet, played by Julianne Nicholson. With Elias Koteas, Will Patton, and Sophie Okonedo

The film had its world premiere at Telluride, see Deadline review, screening at the New York Film Festival and Berlin film fest.

With Elias Koteas, Will Patton, and Sophie Okonedo.

This is not specialty, but it’s indie. Vertical’s widest release to date, The Exorcism, by Joshua John Miller opens on over 2,000 screens. Stars Russell Crowe as a troubled actor who begins to unravel while shooting a supernatural horror film where he plays a priest and exorcist. His estranged daughter (Ryan Simpkins) wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play, and turns to the film’s Jesuit priest advisor (David Hyde Pierce) for help. This movie within a movie, with Adam Goldberg playing the filmmaker, was written by Miller and M.A. Fortin.

See Deadline review. This is personal — the director’s father, actor Jason Miller, played the unfortunate Father Karras in William Friedkin’s 1973 The Exorcist.

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