Brit sci-fi movie is a fun time but can distributors get past the heavily-accented slang of its inner-city London protagonists?
Saturday night will see the Attack the Block premiere at SXSW and if this British teen sci-fi movie has any chance of being seen beyond those lucky to be in attendance, this screening will be key.
Block is the directorial debut of Joe Cornish, a sometime writer partner of Edgar Wright who worked with the filmmaker on The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and Ant-Man. Wright is even an exec producer on the film, which has a pretty high budget for a U.K. pic.
The movie channels a Goonies and Gremlins-esque vibe but with modern, very inner city London sensibilities. It centers on a band of 15-year old hoodies (ruffians to you and I) who mug and do other small crimes and are on the cusp of making life choices they won¹t be able to back away from.
During a mugging, an fiery object streak down from the sky, crashing in the part of the London slums the boys live. When they discover a creature was part of the meteor, what do they do? Kill it. This, of course, is big mistake and brings down more alien creatures, with our boys needing to step it up to be heroes.
Block is fun and with its cast of mostly unknowns features some nice standout performances, particularly the kid who plays the leader of the hoodies, John Boyega (who's got great screen presence).
The movie doesn't have a distributor. A buyer's screening was held at last month's Berlin Film Festival and another one in London before that, showing a pic that still needed some VFX work.
But American execs are wary, with one reason being the movie's foreign language. Okay, I exaggerate, but one of the movie's strengths is that it makes its characters authentic, giving them the heavy-accented and slang of the English language from inner-city London.
This is giving distribution execs, many of whom like the movie, pause. There is talk of having subtitles for any North American release.
More than that, there is even excited talk of getting the movie's remake rights and making a U.S. version of the film.
SXSW has proven to be a venue where a strong showing can lead to a release deal. Last year, Gareth Edwards' Monsters had its U.S. premiere there and its strong showing led to an acquisition by Magnet Releasing.
So the future of Block may very well rest with the fine folks in Austin.