Variance bows, bent on big screen

Diane Keaton, Liv Tyler among stars of debut comedy

Indie distributor Variance Films is launching with the theatrical release of the dark comedy "Smother" starring Diane Keaton, Dax Shepard and Liv Tyler and exec producer Terry Bradshaw's Hurricane Katrina football documentary "Walking on Dead Fish."

Former ThinkFilm distribution and marketing director Dylan Marchetti wants Variance to bridge the gap between producers self-releasing features and traditional distributors, avoiding the direct-to-video trap that many indies encounter.

Part of Marchetti's strategy is to avoid conventional New York/Los Angeles platform releases, instead looking to rollouts tailored to each film's target audience. He will be scouting for more Variance projects at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.

Vince Di Meglio's "Smother" centers on an overbearing mother who worms her way into her son's life. The film will receive a Sept. 26 release in the top five markets.

Franklin Martin's "Fish", a co-release with Dutchmen Films, follows New Orleans high school students who overcome natural disaster to form a winning football team. The film, narrated by Fox NFL studio analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bradshaw, opens there Sept. 5, followed by a regional expansion Sept. 19.

Marchetti negotiated the "Smother" deal with Vincent Reppert and Johnson Chan of Germie & Bucky Prods. and did the "Fish" deal with Nguyen Tran and Ilan Arboleda of the Institution.