Mubi Go, which has helped buoy NYC’s arthouse market by offering members a free movie ticket a week at participating theaters, expands to LA today where the biz could really use a boost. The films are curated and the first is Apple’s Cha Cha Real Smooth.
Mubi, a global streaming service, production company and film distributor, launched Mubi Go in New York last fall and will continue expanding to major markets through 2022 with Chicago next. “We’re being very careful and methodical about the rollout,” said distribution chief Chris Wells.
Mubi members get Mubi Go as a perk. The company doesn’t release subscriber numbers but Wells said its NYC base jumped by 30% after it added Mubi Go.
Movie picks include its own releases, like Lingui, The Sacred Bonds, but mostly from other distributors from Drive My Car, The Power of the Dog and Passing to We’re All Going To the World’s Fair, Vortex, Belle, Neptune Frost, A Hero and, this past week, French film Lost Illusions.
Its picks “are from the very best international film festivals, the cream of the crop, that deserve to be seen in a theatrical space. Some of them may be better known to audiences and some are hidden gems,” Wells said. The goal is “to support the arthouse at its core” as Mubi buys “hundreds and hundreds of tickets every single week to these films.”
Older arthouse demos have been the slowest to return to theaters. “Moviegoing is a habit. Covid broke that habit for a lot of people and what we have to do is reinvigorate the passion for going to the moves. We are seeing rays of hope constantly,” Wells said, noting that 80% of Mubi Go users are 44 and under.
Cha Cha Real Smooth, a sensation at Sundance, stars its writer and director Cooper Raiff along with Dakota Johnson, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, Raúl Castillo and Odeya Rush. Fresh out of college and stuck at his New Jersey home without a clear path forward, 22-year-old Andrew (Raiff) begins working as a party starter for bar/bat mitzvahs Deadline interview with Raiff here.
Mubi’s LA theaters so far include Laemmle’s Monica Film Center, Glendale, NoHo 7 and Town Center 5. In NYC it works with Film Forum, Film at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, IFC Center, Nitehawk Cinema and the Paris Theater.
Also in specialty this week, Focus Features presents Brian And Charles another acclaimed Sundance title, in 279 theaters. Directed by Jim Archer, written by David Earl and Chris Hayward, it’s the story of Brian, a lonely, down-on-his-luck inventor who takes on his most ambitious project in Charles — an intelligent robot made from odds and ends including an old washing machine — and they become fast friends. Starring David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, James Michie and Nina Sosanya. Produced by Rupert Majendie with exec producers Damian Jones, Lauren Dark, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, Mary Burke, Jim Reeve and Robert Halmi.
IFC Films presents Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas-starring Official Competition, the nexus of a super lively red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. The film directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn and written by Andres Duprat and Gaston Duprat, opens in NY and LA (IFC Center, Lincoln Square, Sunset 5, Laemmle Royal) before expanding nationally next week. Cruz and Banderas play two egomaniacs, director and actor, commissioned by a millionaire to make a movie. See Deadline review from the Venice Film Festival.
Magnolia Pictures presents Emelie Mahdavian’s Bitterbrush, from Telluride, a sweeping verite’ look at female range riders, on 20 screens in NY, LA and San Francisco. Expansion after will target towns in the West including Idaho where it was shot, Colorado and Montana. The doc follows Hollyn Patterson and Colie Moline during their last summer herding cattle in in remote Idaho totally off the grid and with dogs as their only companions. They battle inclement weather and perilous work conditions while pondering their futures.
Samuel Goldwyn Films presents Danish dad comedy Wild Men by Thomas Daneskov in 15 markets including NY and LA. Armed only with a bow and an ensemble of animal skins, protagonist Martin sets off into the forest in a misguided attempt to overcome his midlife crisis. A chance meeting with a fugitive named Musa leads to a twisted trip through the fjords with police, drug runners, and Martin’s family not far behind. With Rasmus Bjerg, Zaki Youssef, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofie Gråbøl, Marco Ilsø. Deadline review here.
Greenwich Entertainment presents Telluride doc Stay Prayed Up, a spirited celebration of 83-year-old Lena Mae Perry and her legendary North Carolina gospel group The Branchettes, at the Quad Cinema and Laemmle Monica. Directed by D.L. Anderson and Matthew Durning, the film documents The Branchettes as they record their first, fully live album.
Netflix opens Civil by director Nadia Hallgren at the Bay Theater in LA and the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco. The film, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival and opened the American Black Film Festival this week, follows civil rights attorney Ben Crump representing marginalized clients in wrongful death, injury, police brutality and discrimination lawsuits, including his most high-profile case against the city of Minneapolis for the death of George Floyd. Deadline review.