IFC seeks more takers for day-date

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IFC Films on Wednesday announced two star-driven films that will be released simultaneously in theaters and via VOD. Those films are Tom Kalin's crime drama "Savage Grace," starring Julianne Moore and Hugh Dancy, and Justin Lin's Bruce Lee mockumentary "Finishing the Game," featuring James Franco and MC Hammer.

Because each film boasts bankable actors, IFC might test whether exhibitors resistant to day-and-date releases will book films also available on VOD.

"Grace," the $5 million true story of socialite Barbara Daly Baekeland's 1972 murder, was picked up for the IFC First Take day-and-date distribution program along with Lin's $500,000-range comedy, which imagines the recasting of Lee's final role in "Game of Death" before filming was completed.

As of now, the Wagner/Cuban Cos.' Landmark Theatres is one of the only chains to book First Take films. Wagner/Cuban has its own day-and-date program, Sneak Preview, airing select HDNet Films features one time on its HDNet Movies cable channel as they are released in theaters.

Despite the star power, neither project is exactly mainstream fare. The Killer Films production "Grace," based on the book by Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson, contains scenes of incest, homosexuality and a gory murder. It's Kalin's first film since his 1992 crime drama "Swoon."

"It's definitely challenging but in a good way," IFC vp acquisitions Arianna Bocco said.

After directing "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" for Universal, "Game" marks Lin's return to his low-budget roots: His $250,000 debut feature, "Better Luck Tomorrow," starred a mainly Asian-American cast of unknown actors. "Game," which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, has a rough-hewn style and, like "Grace," has nonmarquee names rounding out its cast.

Bocco, who picked up "Grace" shortly after itsDirectors' Fortnight premiere at the Festival de Cannes in May, said the film marks a "natural progression" for her company. IFC plans a platform release for the film next year, part of First Take's 25-plus annual lineup. Bocco said she doesn't foresee any stumbling blocks with exhibitors. "Game" will premiere in October.

The "Grace" deal was negotiated by Bocco and IFC counsel Betsy Rodgers with Charlotte Mickie, previously of Celluloid Dreams. The "Game" deal was negotiated by Bocco with Cinetic Media, which repped the filmmakers.
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