Indies Hit By Epic NY Rainstorms As Alamo Drafthouse Shuts Theaters; ‘Carlos’ Opens, ‘Stop Making Sense’ Expands – Specialty Preview

A really wet Friday in New York – National Weather Service flash flood warning wet – is likely to take a bite out of specialty film in one of its biggest markets this weekend. Alamo Drafthouse shut its NYC locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island until further notice due to “severe flooding in and around the area,” saying “Please everyone stay dry & stay safe, and we hope to have you back at the movies very soon.” Subways are jammed up and the water makes it hard to get around.

So wider is better. New openings include Carlos, Sony Pictures Classics’ Carlos Santana doc, at 188 locations. Stop Making Sense expands to 800 screens (1,000 worldwide). The Kill Room from Shout! Studios and Blue Fox Entertainment opens at 355 theaters. On Fire from Cineverse is in 400. And Netflix debuts Fair Play in 70+ locations. It hits the streamer next week.

Carlos, by Rudy Valdez, the life and career of the 10-time Grammy-winning musical icon and father of Latin American jazz fusion, premiered at Tribeca. It was jointly financed by Sony Music Entertainment and Imagine Documentaries. A special event, CARLOS: The Santana Journey Global Premiere, debuted in cinemas worldwide for three nights (Sept. 23, 24, 27). 

The Talking Heads 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, restored and re-released by A24 this month, continues to expand from an initial Imax run to 800 screens nationwide. The Jonathan Demme-directed feature premiered at TIFF where it set an Imax record is attracting a young audience, including many that had never seen it.

The Kill Room from Shout! Studios and Blue Fox Entertainment opens on 355 screens with some star power in Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Maya Hawk. Directed by Nicol Paone, written by Jonathan Jacboson. A hitman, his boss, an art dealer and a money-laundering scheme that accidentally turns the assassin into an overnight avant-garde sensation and forces her to play the art world against the underworld.

On Fire from Cineverse, out on 400 screens, is inspired by one of Northern California’s most catastrophic wildfires. Directed by Peter Facinelli, who also stars as a humble man, husband and father living in a remote area whose world suddenly and violently torn apart as devastating wildfires rip through the surrounding area. Also starring Asher Angel, Fiona Dourif and Lance Henriksen.

Netflix’ Fair Play opens at 70+ theaters in over 40 DMAs including The Paris, IFC Center and (when it opens) Alamo Drafthouse in NYC, as well as Landmark Westwood, Landmark Sunset, Los Feliz and the Bay in LA. Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich star as a young couple whose relationship  and more is pushed to the brink by an unexpected promotion at the cutthroat hedge fund where they both work. Chloe Domont’s film premiered at Sundance, Deadline review here.

From Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing, religious horror Deliver Us day and date on a dozen screens. Directed by Lee Roy Kunz and Cru Ennis, and written by Lee Roy and Kane Kunz. The film follows a woman who is about to give birth to twin boys, who will be born to be a Messiah and an Antichrist, based on ancient prophecy. Stars Lee Roy Kunz, Maria Vera Ratti, Alexander Siddig, Jaune Kimmel, and Thomas Kretschmann.

More to come…

The Alamo: John Wayne’s feud with co-star who tried to leave days into shoot

Back in 1945, John Wayne decided he wanted to make a movie about the Battle of the Alamo.

The pivotal conflict during the Texan Revolution saw a 13 day siege on the Alamo Mission. The Mexican army successfully killed most of the defenders, including American folk heroes Davy Crockett and James Bowie.

As a result, this inspired many Texians to win the Battle of San Jacinto a month later, which ended the rebellion in favour of the newly formed Republic of Texas.

The conservative patriot Wayne hired screenwriter James Edward Grant to write a draft of The Alamo, which is on ITV4 this weekend.

But as it neared completion, the Hollywood star had a major falling out with Herbert Yates, the head of Republic Pictures.

Duke was offered a measly $3 million budget by the studio famed for its low-budget B-movies, when he wanted his Alamo picture to be a big-budget epic. Unable to agree on the financing, he left Republic over the feud but wasn’t able to take the script with him. Instead, it was rewritten and made into 1955’s The Last Command. Nevertheless, the tenacious actor was determined to get the movie made his way.

Wayne formed his own production company Batjac and decided to produce and direct The Alamo to protect his original vision for the movie. Originally he also planned to cameo in the small role of Sam Houston. However, he couldn’t get the financial backing to make the film unless he also agree to star as Davy Crockett, a part that had been offered to Clark Gable.

To raise the $12 million budget (over $120 million today), Duke contributed $1.5 million of his own money by taking out second mortgages on his houses and using his cars and yacht as collateral to obtain loans. Before Wayne was forced to play a main part, he had wanted Richard Widmark to play Davy Crockett. But when Duke took on the role himself to secure financial backing, he needed to move his co-star to another role.

United Artists, one of The Alamo’s backers, had pushed for the director to hire him as box office insurance. Widmark was offered the part of Col William Travis, but objected and agreed to play Jim Bowie. However, just a few days into filming he complained he had been miscast and tried to leave the production. One of his issues was that at 5’9 he was playing a 6’6 man described as “larger than life”.

After threats of legal action, Widmark agreed to finish the move, getting Burt Kennedy to rewrite his lines. But he did not get on with Wayne during filming. It was long rumoured the reason for this was that the Jim Bowie star was a liberal Democrat who opposed the Hollywood blacklist and supported gun control, in contrast to Duke, the conservative Republican.

Yet according to Widmark, the real reason for their set feud was Wayne’s lack of skill as a director and inability to motivate actors for a scene. He complained the Crockett star would tell him and other actors how to play their parts, which sometimes conflicted with their interpretation of their characters. Although, other members of the cast and crew believed Wayne was an intelligent and gifted director.

Whatever the case, Duke was under incredible pressure starring, producing and being a first-time director on such a huge movie he was self-backing and had a number of production problems. To deal with the stress of the movie that had 7000 extras, 1500 horses and 400 cattle in its climatic battle scene, Wayne would smoke cigarettes no-stop when he wasn’t acting.

According to Smitty actor Frankie Avalon: “There may have been some conflict with Widmark in portraying the role that he did, but I didn’t see any of that. All I know is he was tough to work for without a doubt because he [Wayne] wanted it his way and he wanted professionalism. He wanted everybody to know their lines and be on their mark and do what he wanted them to do.”

Things proved even more challenging when Wayne’s longtime director collaborator John Ford would show up on the set of The Alamo uninvited and try to influence the direction of the movie. To get rid of Pappy, Duke sent him off to shoot second-unit footage that he didn’t really intend to use in the movie, with the vast majority of it left on the cutting room floor.

The Alamo ended up being profitable at the box office and was nominated for seven Oscars, although Duke did lose money on his own personal investment.

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‘Barbie’ Director Greta Gerwig Surprises With NYC Alamo Drafthouse Appearance

There were cheers. There were tears. And lots and lots of pink.

That’s what greeted director Greta Gerwig when she made a surprise appearance at a Barbie screening in New York City at the Alamo Drafthouse.

The film is off to a solid start at the box office, including the sold-out show that Gerwig appeared at.

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