When Abe Forsythe conceived the idea of Little Monsters, he intended the film to be screened in cinemas, reaching a far wider audience than his black comedy Down Under.
That’s not how it turned out, much to the disappointment of the writer-director. The Sundance Film Festival hit starring Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England and Josh Gad is restricted to one-night only screenings at around 30 cinemas for just three weeks before it lands on Foxtel Store and iTunes.
Meanwhile Proud Mother Pictures’ Genevieve Bailey is criss-crossing the country, staging 20 Q&A screenings for her feature doc Happy Sad Man, an exploration of masculinity and mental health. Bailey is handling theatrical bookings for her film which is having an exclusive run at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova before it starts rolling out in Sydney locations on Wednesday.
Film Ink Presents is sub-distributing Little Monsters for Universal Pictures. The weekend take for the movie produced by Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodie Matterson and Steve Hutensky and Snoot Entertainment’s Keith and Jess Calder was a modest $12,000.
Universal opted for a premium VOD release after the US distributor Neon booked a limited theatrical release in October three days before it went out on streaming service Hulu. Neon and Hulu jointly acquired US rights after the world premiere at Sundance.
Forsythe tells IF: “After Down Under, which was a very challenging movie for Australian audiences, I wanted to give Little Monsters every chance of working here as a very optimistic movie with A-list actors and US entertainment-style storytelling.
“This movie was meant to be experienced in cinemas full of people. Much to my surprise and disappointment, it is not being given a real opportunity here.”
By contrast, the dark comedy is getting significant cinema exposure in the UK (opening on 100—plus screens via Altitude on November 15), Germany and France. Matterson tells IF the film been sold to nearly every international territory.
The producer and the director attended a screening at Dendy Newton last Thursday, where she says it “went through the roof,” mirroring the audiences’ responses at Sundance, MIFF and other festivals.
Meanwhile Forsythe and the Made Up Stories creators are preparing to shoot Miss Universe, a sci-fi comedy for Universal Pictures next year, hopefully in Australia.
The filmmaker is not revealing much about the plot except to say it’s set at the Miss Universe contest in Las Vegas at a time when much of the world is in conflict. Bringing together contestants from the 10 biggest countries could be an opportunity for reconciliation. Nyong’o will head the large international cast.
‘Happy Sad Man.’
Bailey is hosting Q&As for Happy Sad Man, her follow-up to I Am Eleven, after screenings at the Melbourne International and Adelaide Film Festivals proved audiences really engage with the film and are willing to share their experiences.
Bonsai Films’ Jonathan Page, who is assisting Bailey with distribution and ancillary sales, tells IF the cinema release is concentrated over three-to-four weeks ahead of the arrival of the Academy Awards contenders.
The filmmaker was inspired to make the documentary through her friendship with John Anderson, whom she met while she was at film school in 2003 and rates as the “happiest, saddest man I’ve ever met.”
The doc was funded by the Documentary Australia Foundation and Good Pitch Australia and will include an outreach program.