Jonathan Levine made a mark with All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (a solid film that still hasn’t been given a proper release in the States) and then got a lot of people on his side with The Wackness. Earlier this month he signed on to direct the film formerly called I’m With Cancer, starring Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick. Now there’s word that he’ll adapt the forthcoming novel Warm Bodies, a “darkly comic, existential zombie romance set at the end of the world” by Isaac Marion. Read More »
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Twilight and Up in the Air star Anna Kendrick has been cast and Wackness director Jonathan Levine has signed to helm the very tentatively titled I’m With Cancer, an autobiographical story based on the experiences of Will Reiser, a producer on HBO’s Da Ali G Show and VH1′s Best Week Ever. Kendrick joins Seth Rogen and James McAvoy. Reiser’s spec script tells the story of a 25-year-old who learns he has the disease. Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money) was attached to direct when the project was announced in October 2008.
This project just keeps getting better. We’ve been singing the praises of Kendrick since first seeing her in the Sundance dramedy Rocket Science, and like everyone else, were very impressed with her part in Up in the Air. And if you’ve been reading the site for a couple years, then you’ll know that we were one of the strongest supporters of Levin’s coming of age film The Wackness, which sadly got mismarketed and dumped in the marketplace by Sony Pictures Classics. You can read the official press release after the jump.
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If you’ve been reading /Film for a while, than you know that I fell in love with Jonathan Levine‘s The Wackness at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Levine made his feature directorial debut with a horror thriller titled All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. The film premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival and was greeted with possitive buzz. James Rocchi said it was “the best modern slasher flick since Scream,” and Scott Weinberg called it a “thinking man’s slasher flick.” The Weinstein Co’s Dimension Films label was originally set to release the film in 2007. The lackluster performance of Grindhouse forced the studio to sell the film, among other horror movies, to Senator Entertainment. A release date was announced, and moved back. July 17th 2009 was to be the day that the film would hit theaters domestically. But not anymore.
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You might remember a little film we absolutely loved at last year’s Sundance Film Festival called The Wackness. Sony Pictures Classics did a horrible job marketing the flick, and the movie went largely unnoitced. If you havent yet seen The Wackness, buy or rent the DVD/Blu-ray tonight.
Anyway, director Jonathan Levine has found his next project, this time set up at Fox Atomic. The Sitter is described as Adventures in Babysitting meets Superbad, and tells the story of a suspended college student who “has a night to remember when he gets talked into baby-sitting the eccentric kids next door — two boys and a wild 8-year-old girl.”
The spec script by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka was the subject of a heated bidding war and was snapped up by Fox Atomic in January. Gatewood and Tanaka also had a college comedy script on the 2006 Blacklist titled Who the Hell is Sanjay Patel which is set up at Universal. I heard a rumor that Jonah Hill was circling the project, not sure if that is still the case.
Back in May, I had the opportunity to sit down with director Jonathan Levine and star Josh Peck to talk about their new film The Wackness. I fell in love with this indie coming-of-age drama at Sundance. I have since seen the film three more times. You’ve probably read my gushing posts. It seems like if you talk enough about one thing, even the filmmakers know you by name. When I walked into the room at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, Levine came over and thanked me for all the coverage I have given his film. I thanked him for making a great film. Peck even confessed that he’s a regular /Film reader. How cool is that?
Peter Sciretta: Everybody in the film has a cigarette of drug addiction.
Jonathan Levine: Yeah. Well, I think that, OK, so, yes, everyone smokes, sometimes a lot of the time they’re supposed to be smoking a joint, but people think it’s a cigarette, but Olivia smokes, Famke smokes, there was a scene in the shot where Josh’s character actually quit smoking at the very beginning of the movie and then actually has a cigarette at the end of the movie but that ended up on the cutting room floor. For me I think it’s – I recognize it’s probably pretty provocative and probably pisses people off, but a lot of the world I grew up in in New York or even, I just think teenagers do things that are bad for them. I think the point of the movie is that everyone regardless of where they are in life or what their perspective is, they have their own drug, whether it’s sex, money, music, weed, prescription medication, like everyone has their own drug. I think that kind of underscores that point, but there’s like all this, I think now if you have a cigarette in a movie it’s Rated R right, or is it PG-13?
Peter Sciretta: It’s one of the two, I know you can’t even show smoking in like greenband trailers which must make it hard for you guys to…
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The headline might be just a little deceiving… Okay, a lot. Jonathan Levine’s The Wackness was released on just six screens in New York and Los Angeles this past weekend. And while the film’s $145,000 gross might not seem like much, this little indie gem was able to make $24,166 per screen, which is about $8,000 more per screen than the Will Smith superhero film Hancock. Yes, I realize that Hancock was on 3,959 more screens than The Wackness, but that’s also my point.
The Wackness is one of those wonderful little indies that you have to seek out. Sony will be expanding the film’s release though-out the month, and chances are you’ll be able to see it at a theater near you (that is if you live near the top 50 markets). Thanks to FirstShowing, we have Sony Picture Classics’ tentative release schedule:
Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill
Miami / Ft. Lauderdale / West Palm
Salt Lake City
[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/wacknesst4.flv 470 196]
Welcome to another edition of Movie Playlist, where we talk to the writers, directors, and stars about their favorite films. I’ve always found the celebrity playlists on iTunes to be interesting. Most everyone in the film business moved to Hollywood after discovering their love of films. And I’ve always love talking to people about their favorite films. So talking to the people who make the movies about their favorite films just seemed like a natural idea.
This week’s edition is with Jonathan Levine, the writer and director of The Wackness and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. I first saw The Wackness at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, where the movie went on to win the audience award. I’ve seen the film three times since January, and it still remains on my list of the top five films of 2008. Levine is an up and coming filmmaker who is sure to impress in the years to come.
Manhattan, written and directed by Woody Allen
“Just because of the sweeping kind of romantic scope of it and also the humor and the way it looks.”
Billy Madison by Tamra Davis
“I think it’s just really fucking funny.”
Band of Outsiders by Godard
I really like, well Godard, I think is, I really really like the way he makes films and the way he plays with form is really interesting to me. And I think it’s actually in many ways kind of consistent with hip-hop and sampling things and just the things he does with music and sound. I think he’s like a one of a kind, very unique, and I like to rip him off as much as I can.”
La Notte by Michelangelo Antonioni
Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick
“It’s just like a tone, you know? As much as Woody Allen kind of revels in the emotion, those guys kind of have a healthy distance from the emotion that in many ways is just as impactful. There’s a misanthropy to it that is not cynical. It’s like you’re showing that the worst side of people but in doing so, you’re allowing… you know, it’s Tom Cruise, you’re like ‘oh shit! Like Tom Cruise is this scumbag… he has the weirdest thoughts and his wife wants to cheat on him with a marine and he’s Tom Cruise but he’s so fucking fucked up by it that he has to go put on a mask and go to an orgy.’ But you identify with these base desires and with the worst part of human beings and then you realize all right, it’s not that bad. The movie ends on this note where it’s like, oh yeah, we got fucked. I really liked that movie. It might not be my favorite movie… the only one of those movies that constitutes my favorite movie is Manhattan but the other ones do really interesting things that I respect out of movies.”
Check out Jonathan Levine’s latest movie The Wackness, which hits limited release this Friday.
It seems very clear to me that movie studios don’t have any clue how to market any of Jonathan Levine‘s film s so far. I’ve been waiting to see All the Boys Love Mandy Lane for what seems like forever. It has suffered delay after delay. And the current plan is to release it in August. I think Senator is hoping that the buzz from Levine’s second film The Wackness will direct filmgoers to Mandy. One thing is for sure, this gritty rip-off of the Funny Games poster (which premiered on Shock) probably isn’t the right direction. I mean, how much money did Funny Games make exactly? $1.29 million?
Film Blather says “What distinguishes it from the slasher flock, however, isn’t its kills, but its smarts: the extent to which it taps into the high school psyche and recontextualizes its usual sex-alcohol-and-drugs temptations.” Cinematical’s James Rocchi calls it “the best modern slasher flick since Scream.” Watch the first ten minutes of the film on YouTube.
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