‘Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris’ Opens With Charm, Strong Word of Mouth In Still-Challenged Arthouse Scene – Specialty Preview

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Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris, a kind Cinderella story for older women with a Dior twist, arrives in 978 theaters this weekend with strong reviews and great word of mouth. The film is a known property among that demo given its prime trailer treatment before Focus Features’ fan favorite Downtown Abbey: A New Era — not a bad setup.

Deadline review here. The film by Anthony Fabian with Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs has a 92%/critics, 94%/audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It shares the pond with a handful of strong studio holdovers and new wide releases Paw Patrol: The Movie and drama Where The Crawdads Sing. Like Crawdads, Mrs. Harris is based on a popular book – the 1958 novel by Paul Gallico – and book clubs are prominent in a large marketing push.

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Manville plays Ada Harris, a British housekeeper and widow who dreams of buying her own couture Christian Dior gown. Marketing featured social media activations that dangled a trip to Paris and private visit to the iconic La Galerie Dior at 30 Avenue Montaigne, as well as national screenings with promotional giveaways from macarons to flowers and wine, and broadcast hits including premieres of The Bachelorette and Better Call Saul.

Focus Features acquired the worldwide rights to Mrs. Harris (which was financed by eOne) in March of 2021. Writers are Carroll Cartwright, Anthony Fabian, Keith Thompson and Olivia Hetreed.

Specialty openings have been challenged and hard to predict since Covid. It’s been hit or miss, But older audiences and women have been slowly returning to seats. Elvis had a particularly big percentage of over 50s. But specialty’s revival requires re-engaging with its older base and attracting younger viewers.

Also opening this weekend — an eclectic mix: Netflix presents Joe and Anthony Russo’s big-budget actioner The Gray Man at about 450 theaters/120 markets in North America (and 1,500 locations worldwide). Theaters include the Paris and Cinepolis Chelsea in NYC, the Landmark Westwood and the Bay Theater in Los Angeles, TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and several Cinemark locations as well as other theater chains. Ryan Gosling is a CIA operative, Billy Bob Thornton his handler, Chris Evans, a psychopathic former colleague and stalker, and Ana De Armas his ally. Deadline review here. It starts streaming next weekend.

A double-header by Strand Releasing in Marco Bellochio’s Marx Can Wait and My Name Is Sara. The former is the famed Italian director’s exploration of a personal tragedy, the 1968 suicide of his twin brother Camillo at age 29. Nearly 50 years later, Bellocchio gathers his family to reconstruct Camillo’s disappearance. At the IFC Center in NYC.

My Name Is Sara by Steven Oritt is the true story of Sara Goralnik, a 13-year-old Polish Jewish girl whose family was killed by Nazis in September, 1942. After a grueling escape to the Ukrainian countryside, she steals her Christian best friend’s identity and finds refuge in a small village. Opened 7/13 at the Quad Cinema in NYC.  Written by David Himmelstein. Stars Zuzanna Surowy, Eryk Lubos, Michalina Olszanska.

Briarcliff Entertainment presents the doc Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down by Julie Cohen and Betsy West on 300 screens. The story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011 to become one of the most effective activists in the battle against gun violence. Featuring extensive vérité filming of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-Senator Mark Kelly; interviews with Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues.

IFC Midnight presents gothic revenge drama She Will in 25 markets. Directed by Charlotte Colbert written by Kitty Percy and Colbert and starring Alice Krige, Malcolm McDowell, Rupert Everett. Dario Argento executive produced the film, which won Colbert the Golden Leopard for Best First Feature at its Locarno Film Festival premiere. An aging film star retreats to the Scottish countryside with her nurse to recover from surgery as mysterious forces of revenge emerge from the land where witches were burned.

(IFC also expands The Other Side of The Blade to just 80 screens.)

Juno Films presents Lucile Hadžihalilović’s noir Earwig at the IFC Center. Mia, a young girl with ice cubes for teeth begins a mysterious journey. With Romane Hemelaers, Paul Hilton, Romola Garaï, Alex Lawther. Based on a Brian Catling’s novella. The film world premiered in Toronto and won the Special Jury Prize at San Sebastian. Written by by Hadžihalilović and Geoff Cox

Greenwich Entertainment presents doc From Where They Stood at NYC’s Film Forum, adding additional U.S. & Canadian cites thereafter. By Christophe Cognet. A handful of prisoners in Nazi death camps managed to take clandestine photographs of the hell that was being hidden from the world. Cognet retraces their footsteps in a quest to unearth the circumstances and the stories behind their photographs.

Film Movement presents Queen of Glory at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, expanding next week to LA, Atlanta, New Orleans, Portland and Austin among other markets. Directorial debut of, and starring, Nana Mensah, who won for Best New Narrative Director at Tribeca; Excellence in Directing award, Hamptons International Film Festival; Best First Feature nom at the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards. Mensah is Nana, a doctoral student at Columbia University about to follow her married boyfriend to Ohio. But her mother suddenly passes away, and she inherits King of Glory, a small Christian bookstore serving a Ghanaian immigrant community in the Bronx.

GKIDS Japanese anime The Deer King from Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji opens on 107 screens. This story picks up in the years following a vicious war, the Empire of Zol now controls the land and citizens of rival Aquafa — except for Aquafa’s Fire Horse Territory, where wild dogs that once carried the deadly Black Wolf Fever continue to roam free.

Kino Lorber opens Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl at NYC’s Quad Cinema and Laemmle Monica next weekend. Winner of the 2021 NETPAC Award presented at TIFF. With Nadine Labaki, Saleh Bakri, Yumna Marwan. The free-spirited Badri family escapes the toxic pollution and social unrest of Beirut by seeking refuge in a utopic mountain home they’ve devoted years to building for themselves. Unexpectedly, the government begins construction on a garbage landfill right outside their fence.

Abramorama presents Living Wine directed by Lori Miller and featuring California winemakers bucking the industrial agricultural practices of the corporate wine industry to stay true to the ideal of innovative sustainable and regenerative farming. Rolling into about a dozen markets this weekend through August.

Vertical Entertainment presents Eli Horowitz’ thriller Gone in the Night with Dermot Mulroney, John Gallagher Jr. and Winona Ryder on 135 screens including the Tri-state and SoCal markets. Written by Matthew Derby and Horowitz. Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath (Ryder) and her boyfriend (Gallagher Jr.) find their rental has been doubled booked with a mysterious younger couple.

VMI Releasing presents film Girls To Buy in NY, LA, Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. Maria Sadowska’s erotic drama about Polish celebrities who work escorts in Dubai is based on the 2018 book Girls from Dubai. With Giulio Berruti, Katarzyna Figura, Paulina Galazka.

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