When The East premiered in Park City on Jan. 20, the eco-minded thriller drew a surprising response from certain audience members.
“We had dinner after the premiere and a couple of CEOs of different corporations came up and said how much it affected them,” star Alexander Skarsgard told The Hollywood Reporter. Added co-star and screenwriter Brit Marling: “This woman from a pharmaceutical company was standing in the hallway and she was just crying, and she grabbed my arm as I came out of the theater and was like, 'I work for a pharmaceutical company and I've worked there for years and this film completely changed the way I see what my company is doing and what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm going to do next, but thank you for this movie.'"
But it wasn’t only the audience that was affected by the Zal Batmanglij-directed film.
“It’s a weird feeling when I’m so passionate about this film and this whole experience, and then last night, you’re there and you’re sharing it with 1,300 people – 1,300 strangers,” said Skarsgard. “You’re like, ‘All right, this is our little baby. Do you like it? Is it OK?’It was very emotional.”
Among those in the crowd was THR film critic John DeFore, who called the film “a consistently tense, morally alert story that has plenty of box-office appeal.”
Marling plays Sarah, a former FBI agent working for a private sector. Her first task is to infiltrate a violent anarchist group, The East, which is led by Benji (Skarsgard). Ellen Page also stars as Izzy, a member of the organization.
According to Marling, The East has broad appeal for all types of audiences.
“Everybody feels a little bit frustrated with where the world is right now and where unchecked corporate greed has gone,” she said. “So, on that level, I think it plays for everybody.”
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci