Neon Books Distribution Rights for Riley Keough Thriller ‘The Lodge’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Neon has booked domestic distribution rights to the Riley Keough thriller “The Lodge,” which premiered Friday night in the midnight section of the Sundance Film Festival. The deal is worth just under $2 million, according to an individual familiar with the negotiations.

The film, which should hit theaters in 2019, is the English-language debut of Austrian writer-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, who first made a splash with the 2014 German-language horror film “Goodnight Mommy.”

In the film, Lia McHugh and Jaeden Lieberher (“It”) star as siblings who are snowed in a remote cabin with the much younger woman (Keough) whom their dad (Richard Armitage) plans to marry after dumping their mom (Alicia Silverstone.

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FilmNation fully financed the thriller, a production of FilmNation and Hammer Films. Simon Oakes, Aliza James and Aaron Ryder produced; while Ben Browning, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka, Brad Zimmerman, Marc Schipper and Xavier Marchand exec produced.

Endeavor Content repped the filmmakers.

It’s been a busy festival for Neon, which on Sunday picked up rights to the survival thriller “Monos,” starring Julianne Nicholson as an American hostage held by a group of young soldiers and rebels in training on a remote mountain in Latin America.

Variety first reported news of the deal.

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Alicia Silverstone To Star In ‘The Pleasure Of Your Presence’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Alicia Silverstone will star in The Pleasure Of Your Presence, the sophomore feature for writer and director Amy Miller Gross (Accommodations). Tom Everett Scott (13 Reasons Why), Jake Hoffman (The Wolf of Wall Street), Mathilde Ollivier (Ov…

‘Clueless’ Remake in the Works at Paramount

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Paramount Pictures is in early talks to develop a remake of the 1995 film “Clueless,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

“Girls Trip” writer Tracy Oliver is set to produce, while “Glow” writer Marquita Robinson is penning the script. However, there is no script yet.

The original “Clueless” was written and directed by Amy Heckerling and starred Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Breckin Meyer, Jeremy Sisto, Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan and Brittany Murphy.

See Video: Alicia Silverstone Says Her Son Tried to ‘French Kiss’ Her After Seeing ‘Clueless’

The film followed a group of teenagers attending Beverly Hills High School who try to boost a new student’s popularity. The film got a spinoff series also named “Clueless,” with many of the cast returning except for Silverstone and Rudd. Silverstone was replaced in the role of Cher by Rachel Blanchard. A collection of books were also published in the wake of the success of the film.

“Clueless: The Musical” is also debuting on off-Broadway this fall at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre within the Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City. Kristin Hanggi is directing.

See Video: Watch Alicia Silverstone Lip-Sync Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ as Cher From ‘Clueless’

A spokesperson for Paramount had no comment.

Deadline first reported the news.

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Alicia Silverstone Says Her Son Tried to ‘French Kiss’ Her After Seeing ‘Clueless’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Alicia Silverstone initially didn’t want her 7-year-old son to see “Clueless,” but after he did, the actress said that he kept wanting to “French kiss” her.

“I took him to see it because it’s at the LA cemetery, where they show it for 4,000 people…on a huge screen,” Silverstone said on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Monday, adding it was “very romantic” because everyone was “laying down with pillows and rosé.”

She feared her son would be too young to see the 1995 cult classic, saying it’s “not appropriate” for someone that age.

See Video: Watch Alicia Silverstone Lip-Sync Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ as Cher From ‘Clueless’

“He loved it, but the one thing he took away from it, aside from all the things I was worried about, was he kept trying to French kiss me afterward, which was very sweet,” explained Silverstone.

Visibly confused and uncomfortable, Colbert then asked, “And you said, ‘That is not appropriate?’”

“I just kept my mouth closed!” Silverstone said. “That’s what I did. And I just giggled.”

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After a quick pause, Silverstone asked Colbert: “Are you worried?”

“Nope,” Colbert replied.

“It’s fine. He’s not doing it anymore,” Silverstone said. “But that’s what his takeaway was!”

“Clueless” also starred Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Breckin Meyer, Donald Faison and Dan Hedaya. It was written and directed by Amy Heckerling.

Watch the video above.

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Watch Alicia Silverstone Channel Cher from ‘Clueless’ in ‘Lip Sync Battle’ Teaser (Video)

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Alicia Silverstone is reprising her role as Cher from “Clueless”? As if!

It’s true. Silverstone will be channeling her iconic character from the 1995 movie in the newest season of “Lip Sync Battle” on the Paramount Network. The competition series, hosted by Chrissy Teigen, returns with new episodes on June 14.

In a teaser released Monday, we get a peek of Silverstone in that classic, plaid yellow skirt suit singing to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (that music video is inspired by “Clueless”).

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“There’s a lot of things that could go wrong, but I think that it’s going to be OK,” the “American Woman” star said in the video.

Other stars in the new line-up include Mena Suvari and Derek Hough.

Watch the full video above.

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‘Book Club’ Film Review: Women-of-a-Certain-Age Sex Comedy Has Poignancy Beneath the Pratfalls

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s a credit to TV’s greater curiosity and openmindedness that when I beheld the four stars of “Book Club” — actresses ranging in age from 65 to 80 — my thoughts turned to how recently I’d seen them on their respective shows or in headlines about their upcoming series.

The ensemble romantic comedy benefits enormously from Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen keeping their comedic and dramatic muscles warmed up (though a stiffer Candice Bergen has her bravura moments, too). None of the women are asked to do anything too strenuous in “Book Club,” but their collective charisma — along with their male co-stars’ — add up to an irresistible charmfest.

The premise of “Book Club” sounds, to be honest, excruciatingly dumb: A quartet of elderly friends are inspired by the “50 Shades of Grey” books to spice up their sex lives. But first-time director Bill Holderman, who penned the script with Erin Simms, smartly adds a pinch of salt to the sweetness to amplify both sides of the flavor spectrum.

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The film’s aspirational, 60-is-the-new-40 fantasies feel grounded enough in emotional truths and aging concerns that the most unrealistic thing about these literate ladies, who deliver guffaw-worthy lines about Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” is that they never once mock “50 Shades” author E.L. James’ atrocious prose.

“Book Club” opens with an awkwardly Photoshopped snapshot of the four main characters in their youth, clinging to their copies of Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying.” Now a few years shy of 70, all but one feels erotically adrift. The exception is commitment-phobic Vivian (Fonda), a luxury hotel owner (in attention-grabbing animal prints) who’s happy as a lifelong bachelorette but finds herself drawn to an old boyfriend (Don Johnson) who’s visiting Los Angeles.

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The others are in various stages of sexual shutdown. The most resistant to an erotic rekindling is federal judge Sharon (Bergen), who internet-stalks her ex-husband (Ed Begley, Jr.) and his decades-younger new fiancée and seemingly hasn’t been on a date since her divorce 18 years ago. Chef Carol (Steenburgen), the only one friend still married, struggles with her husband’s (Craig T. Nelson) utter lack of interest in sex.

Widowed homemaker Diane (Keaton, in a first-rate set of her signature androgynous garb) is needled by her condescending daughters (Katie Aselton and Alicia Silverstone) to move to Scottsdale, where she can be stuffed into the basement and supervised 24/7. Diane shows resistance even before she meets a stranger on a plane (a positively smoldering Andy Garcia) who’s willing to show her everything she missed out on during her lackluster marriage. Richard Dreyfuss and Wallace Shawn make brief appearances, but somehow Sam Elliott does not.

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To be sure, “Book Club” has more goofy gags than it does witticisms. An arrow on a plant moisture meter twitches from “dry” to “wet” when a character gets lost in Christian Grey’s Red Room, and Nelson’s character is marched into several situations fly-first after a Viagra accident leaves him fuming and erect. The cast is just as game for the broad humor as it is for the emotional beats; the latter’s familiarity doesn’t detract from its poignancy.

As movingly as each character’s romantic and/or familial storyline wraps up, though, I wish the core cast had a few more scenes to themselves. They share such an easygoing chemistry — and the inevitable scene where the friends diagnose one another on what they’re doing wrong hints at such layers of friendship — that it felt disappointing that their decades-long bond wasn’t the focus of the movie. The men are a treat. But there isn’t quite enough of the women to comprise a feast.

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‘Succession,’ ‘American Woman,’ ‘Autonomies,’ ‘Rain’ Set for Series Mania in Lille

Read on: Variety.

After moving to the northeastern French city of Lille from its longtime base in Paris, Series Mania will open its newest edition April 27 with HBO’s media empire drama “Succession,” written and created by Jesse Armstrong. The festival will close May 5 with the French premiere of Sky’s “Babylon Berlin,” a Beta Film co-produced series that pushed […]

Lindsay Lohan Wants to Star in Joss Whedon’s ‘Batgirl’ Movie

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Joss Whedon’s “Batgirl” movie is still happening, supposedly — there hasn’t been any change in status for the project in the wake of the disappointing box office take and critical reception for “Justice League,” which Whedon reworked significantly in the months before that movie was released in November.

It’d be fair, really, to say there’s been no news of note, period, about the “Batgirl” movie since it was announced with Whedon at the helm in early 2017. No news about casting. No news about what, if any particular comic book version of Batgirl’s origin that the film would be adapting. It’s just a quiet project in development right now.

It would make sense, then, that any number of actresses would be seeking out the role — female-led superhero movies are few and far between even now, in the age of “Wonder Woman” being the biggest superhero movie of 2017. And on Twitter Saturday one perhaps surprising actress threw her hat in the ring: “Mean Girls” star Lindsay Lohan.

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RT if I should star in the new BATGIRL movie and everyone tell @joss ????

— Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan) January 6, 2018

“RT if I should star in the new BATGIRL movie and everyone tell @joss,” Lohan tweeted, punctuating it with a kissy face emoji after tagging Whedon himself in the tweet.

The tweet is vague enough that it’s possible Lohan is just campaigning for any starring role in “Batgirl” rather than the title role itself. But more likely she’s pursuing being Barbara Gordon herself, since the only characters we could safely bet on being in the movie without knowing anything about it the way we do at this stage would be Barbara/Batgirl, her father Jim Gordon and Batman himself. So she’s probably talking about playing Batgirl.

A lot of folks would scoff at Lohan in the role, but it’s important to note that few superhero roles are cast without some kind of big uproar from fans who hate the casting. Like, pretty much everyone was super mad when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” and then he ended up giving everyone’s favorite performancein a superhero movie and even winning and Oscar for it. You could argue that Lindsay Lohan is not as good of an actor as Ledger was, which would be fair because very few actors ever have been as good as he was. But still. The point is that you never know.

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Whedon has not, thus far, responded to the tweet — at least not publicly.

“Batgirl” won’t be the first time we’ve seen the character on the big screen. Alicia Silverstone played the part in “Batman & Robin” back in 1997. Folks generally hated that whole movie so much that I don’t think Silverstone herself took much heat directed specifically at her.

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Alicia Silverstone, Tommy Dewey & Katie Aselton Cast In ‘Book Club’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Alicia Silverstone, Casual star Tommy Dewey and Katie Aselton are set to appear in June Pictures’ upcoming film Book Club, joining Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr and Wallace Shawn. The pic is from first-time director Bill Holderman, who co-worte the screenplay with Erin Simms.
It follows four lifelong friends in their 60s — Keaton, Fonda, Bergen and…

Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman Get Freaky in ‘Killing of a Sacred Deer’ Trailer (Video)

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“A teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family take an unexpected turn.” That’s the official synopsis for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” according to IMDB but it doesn’t even come close to describing what’s going on in the film’s first trailer.

Here are the things we know: Colin Farrell plays a surgeon. Barry Keoghan plays the teenager. Nicole Kidman plays Farrell’s wife. Alicia Silverstone plays the teen’s mother. People throughout the trailer are moving around like their legs don’t work. There’s revenge involved.

And that’s it. The trailer is atmospheric, especially with the creepiest version of “Burn” by Ellie Goulding you’ll ever hear playing over it. It’s unsettling but at some points darkly funny. There’s no deer so we have no idea what that title means.

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The latest film from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, who most recently directed the indie hit “The Lobster,” made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival this year. It was one of two winners of Best Screenplay (tied with the Joaquin Phoenix thriller “You Were Never Really Here”). Also, like many of Lanthimos’ films, it garnered some boos.

TheWrap’s Steve Pond said that in many ways, ‘”The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is the Greek director’s most conventional film, but it still isn’t for everybody.”

And just like many of Lanthimos’ other works, we’ll have to wait for the full product to really get a taste.

Watch the full trailer above. The film hits theaters on Oct. 27.

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Basic Instinct is 25: 9 ’90s Femme Fatales, From Least to Most Dangerous

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The ’90s were ripe with sexually charged thrillers featuring scheming femme fatales. With the genre-defining classic “Basic Instinct” turning 25 this week, here are the era’s best villains.

Alicia Silverstone, “The Crush”

Before she was “Clueless” as Cher, Silverstone made her feature film debut in this tawdry thriller as a 14-year-old who goes ballistic on a journalist (Cary Elwes) after he refuses her sexual advances. Word to the wise: Don’t cross Alicia.

Drew Barrymore, “Poison Ivy”

Barrymore ditched her good girl “E.T.” personae in this slithery tale about a seductive teen who schemes her way into the lives of her friend’s family. The actress didn’t return for sequels “Poison Ivy II: Lily,” “Poison Ivy: The New Seduction” and “Poison Ivy: The Secret Seduction.”

Madonna, “Body of Evidence”

The Material Girl literally bares everything in this sordid potboiler as a sex-crazed gold-digger with murderous tendencies. The script’s awful, but Madonna gives it her all. You’ll never look at candle-wax the same way again.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, “Cruel Intentions”

Made at the height of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, Gellar plays against type as a spoiled rich girl used to getting her way, in this hip teen reworking of “Dangerous Liaisons.” Her hyper-sexualized relationship to her adopted brother (Ryan Phillippe) isn’t even the most shocking of her vices.

Rebecca De Mornay, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”

Nobody plays embittered quite like De Mornay, who absolutely terrifies as a widow unable to come to terms with her miserable misfortune — and vows to ruin the happiness of a family that seems to have it all.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Single White Female”

You’ll think twice about befriending your new roommate after watching Leigh crush it in the role of crazed stranger who becomes overly protective, and ultimately obsessed with her new roomie.

Nicole Kidman, “To Die For”

Kidman is seductive, nutty and deadly in Gus Van Sant’s pitch-black comedy about a television newscaster who’ll stop at nothing (including murder) to get to the top. The scariest part: it’s based on a true story.

Eihi Shiina in “Audition”

As anyone who’s seen Takashi Miike’s classic horror knows, Shiina’s Asami is one twisted broad. You’ll want to do background checks on every potential date after seeing her in action.

Sharon Stone, “Basic Instinct”

With a simple crossing of a leg, Stone seared herself into the world’s consciousness as Catherine Tramell, the deadly-attractive femme fatale who might be guilty of murder with an ice pick.

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‘Catfight’ Review: Sandra Oh and Anne Heche Beat Each Other to a Bloody Pulp

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Veronica (Sandra Oh) is rich and entitled. She’s married to a defense contractor (Damian Young), lives in a huge Manhattan apartment, has a teenage son she’s actively discouraging from attending art school (“You can be whatever you want. Just not… this.”), and loves to drink to a degree that embarrasses her family. In current Buzzfeed-listed parlance, she is a textbook “Wine Mom,” one with a full grasp of her own assumed superiority.

Ashley (Anne Heche) is poor and bitter. She’s a career-struggling artist whose overtly political art has few admirers, and she lives in Bushwick with her caterer girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone). Ashley and Veronica went to college together and have always hated each other.

When Lisa drafts Ashley into service as an hors d’oeuvres server at a fancy party, one at which Veronica is absorbed in her favorite full-pour pastime, the Not Friends reunite, exchange decades-simmering insults, and wind up in a stairwell engaged in the sort of vicious fight usually reserved for “The Raid” franchise. The exchange puts Veronica in a coma for two years, and she wakes to find her world turned upside-down. There might be some revenge on the way.

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That brutal stairwell beatdown summons the memory of Robert Longo’s epic 1982 artwork “Untitled (White Riot),” in which black-and-white-clad New Yorkers push, grab, and headlock each other for no apparent reason. Ashley, especially, in her catering uniform, could have stepped right out of Longo’s urban comedy of violent manners. But while Longo’s now-famous work is a somewhat ambiguous expression of Reagan-era anxiety and atmospheric cultural violence, “Catfight” abandons all nuance in favor of a satirical sledgehammer.

Its very title is ironic, at once invoking the simultaneous camp and sexual come-on of a soaking wet “Dynasty” grudge match between Linda Evans and Joan Collins, while delivering all the spurting blood, loud Foley crunch, and near-death consequence of any number of Hollywood dude-brawls. The battle scenes in “Catfight” are sprawling, lengthy, fearful, and messy, the most important set pieces of the narrative, but they’re delivered in italics. They interrupt the heterosexual male gaze while also managing to reinforce a smug Neoliberal status quo that trivializes the characters’ grievances — the film barely bothers to tell you why these two dislike each other so much — by suggesting neither has any real cause to come to blows.

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At various moments in the story, both women cash in on an unseen, years-long war the U.S. is fighting in a region vaguely described as “the Middle East.” The film’s argument is that both responses — passively collecting money from a spouse’s successful defense contracting business and making money from strident protest art — are equally unethical, which means that in this story’s economy, “The Daily Show” and Halliburton are both guilty of war profiteering.

Compounding the weird false equivalencies are exhausted shots at a hammy, sub-“Idiocracy”-style TV show called “The Fart Machine,” and the needless bashing of anxious, urban, helicopter parenting. When the tepid Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle “I Don’t Know How She Does It” beats you to the satirical punch, it’s probably best to go in a different direction. “Catfight” does not. After an hour with these easy targets, the fact that there are no jokes about gluten comes as a surprise.

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Writer-director Onur Tukel’s (“Applesauce”) didactic script works best when Oh and Heche are together in a room, and his direction allows them to enjoy their poisonous dance. They verbally spar before physically tearing each other apart, and the fight choreography is designed to make you feel every punch.

The failure of “Catfight” lies not with the leads, then, but with wasted opportunity. Throughout the film Tukel nods to ideas about the comfortable privilege of ignorance; the tacit acceptance of power as justice; the way money turns people into the worst versions of themselves; the seeming intractable problems of misogyny, homophobia, and the corporatization of global conflict. And then he walks right on by, as though mentioning the issues were the same as addressing them.

He’s eager to deliver the spectacle of more cool blood spray, and content to suggest that since there’s no real answer, we might all as well just sit back and enjoy it.

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TV Land Greenlights Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari’s Dramedy ‘American Woman’

Read on: Variety.

TV Land has greenlit “American Woman,” the 1970’s period dramedy inspired by the real life of “Real Housewives” star Kyle Richards, Variety has learned. The series stars Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari. “American Woman” has landed a 12-episode order. No premiere date has been set yet. Set amid the sexual revolution and the rise of second-wave… Read more »

‘American Woman’ Kyle Richards Dramedy Starring Alicia Silverstone Gets TV Land Series Order

Read on: Deadline.

TV Land has given a series order to its half-hour 1970s period dramedy pilot American Woman, starring Alicia Silverstone. Inspired by the real-life upbringing of co-executive producer Kyle Richards (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), American Woman is written and executive produced by 30 Rock alum John Riggi and executive produced by John Wells. Co-starring in the John Wells Prods./Warner Horizon TV show, which has received a 12-episode order, are Mena Suvari and…

TV Land Orders Kyle Richards Dramedy ‘American Woman’ to Series

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

TV Land ordered the dramedy “American Woman” based on the life of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards to series, the network announced Monday.

Set amid the sexual revolution and the rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s, the half-hour show follows Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone), a mother struggling to raise her two daughters (Makenna James and Lia Ryan McHugh) after leaving her husband.

With the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Menua Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels), each woman will try to discover her own brand of independence in a male-centric world.

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The premise is inspired by the real-life upbringing of co-executive producer Richards. It is written and executive produced by Emmy winner John Riggi, and is executive produced by Emmy winner John Wells. The 12-episode series will be produced by John Wells Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television for TV Land. Alex Hardcastle directed and served as executive producer on the pilot.

“We feel very lucky to be working with John Riggi and John Wells on this fantastic series that is not only beautifully written and directed, but has a stellar cast that portrays the themes of the ’70s in a way that is still relevant today,” said Keith Cox, president of development and original programming for TV Land.

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‘Moonlight’ Illuminates Indie Box Office at Start of Awards Season

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Barry Jenkins’ critically acclaimed “Moonlight” topped the indie box office this weekend in its limited-release opening.

Grossing an estimated $413,175 from four theaters, the A24 and Plan B film received a huge per screen average of $103,685.

About a boy struggling with bullying and his own blossoming sexuality in 1990s Miami, the film received rapturous applause when it first screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last month and has a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score of 99 percent.

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Executive produced by Plan B’s Brad Pitt, among others, the film stars relative newcomers Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Hibbert and Trevante Rhodes — all playing the same, troubled young man at three different points in his life.

Rounding out the cast are Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Janelle Monáe.

The film is receiving early awards season buzz and marks Jenkins’ highly anticipated second feature film, following his praised 2008 drama “Medicine for Melancholy.” It already won a Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Performance.

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Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”) has delivered a specialty box office hit from Korea with the drama “The Handmaiden,” loosely based on a Victorian-era crime novel. The Magnolia movie made an impressive $91,000 from one theater.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore‘s surprise documentary “Michael Moore In TrumpLand” made $50,200 in two locations, for an estimated per screen average of $25,100. It only has a 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Janus Films’ re-release of the 1985 Japanese comedy “Tampopo” made $17,200 from one theater.

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IFC crime drama “King Cobra” earned a respectable $9,500 from a single location. Starring James Franco, Alicia Silverstone, Molly Ringwald, Garrett Clayton and Christian Slater, the film revolves around the early rise of gay porn star Sean Paul Lockhart a.k.a. Brent Corrigan.

Drafthouse-distributed documentary “We Are X,” about the Japanese rock band X, earned $8,300 from one theater. It has an 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Kino Lorber doc “Fire at Sea” made $11,350 from two theaters, for a per screen average of $5,675. The film, which has a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, centers on Europe’s migrant crisis happening on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

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“The Uncondemned,” a documentary tracing a 1997 rape case prosecuted as a crime against humanity, made $5,146 from one theater. The film comes from distributors at Abramorama.

Starring and directed by Ewan McGregor, with Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, Lionsgate drama “American Pastoral” made $151,000 from 50 locations for a per screen average of $3,020. The film takes place in 1968 as a young woman’s politics threaten to bring down her family.

Pure Flix drama “I’m Not Ashamed” made $900,000 from 505 theaters for a per screen average of $1,782.

Focus World’s Western “In a Valley of Violence,” starring Karen Gillan, John Travolta, Ethan Hawke and Taissa Farmiga, made $30,000 in 33 theaters for an average of only $909 per screen. It has a favorable Rotten Tomatoes of 78 percent.

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‘King Cobra’ Review: James Franco Dives Deep Into Gay Porn and Murder

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Movies don’t get much juicier, funnier, creepier, sadder, or smarter than writer-director Justin Kelly‘s “King Cobra,” which dramatizes a real-life murder case set in the world of gay porn. Kelly’s work is outstanding, as he manages to control the most seemingly uncontrollable material while exploring many different facets of the case. “King Cobra” is as in-your-face explicit a gay movie as has ever been made with recognizable male actors, including producer James Franco, who predictably takes the lion’s share of the most physical sex scenes, and Christian Slater.

Kelly (“I Am Michael”) sets up two separate stories and cuts back and forth between them until they finally collide, with tragic results. We see young Sean Lockhart (Garrett Clayton, “The Fosters”) meet up with cultured, melancholy gay porn film producer Stephen (Slater), who immediately asks Lockhart, “Do you like Chopin?”

Kelly frames Lockhart at a distance in mirrors and door frames throughout “King Cobra,” which gets across how he is the object of desire both to Stephen and to himself. (Take note of the pitiful little crooked lamp shade next to Lockhart in one early shot where he is sprawled on a bed.) Stephen gives Lockhart the stage name Brent Corrigan and tells him, “It’s fun to play with who you are, don’t you think?”

See Video: Watch Christian Slater, Garrett Clayton in First Clip for James Franco’s Porn Drama ‘King Cobra’

Corrigan rises to fame online, which is shown to us in a sexily discreet montage that leaves a lot to the imagination; among those taking notice are Joe (Franco) and his younger lover Harlow (Keegan Allen, “Pretty Little Liars”), who are doing their own lower-rent porn movies. Franco and Allen kiss and grope each other on screen with intense abandon in their sex scenes, and this intensity is both erotic and also an uneasy signal that their characters are too close to the emotional edge.

In the sequence where Brent turns the camera on Stephen and the older man admits to a lonely and repressed adolescence, Slater hits just the right pitiful note as he says, “Please just make me feel wanted” before coercing Brent into having sex with him. The sex here is emotionally charged and revealing because Stephen can’t see (or doesn’t want to see) how uncomfortable Brent is with this exchange, but the camera does capture what Brent is feeling, resulting in a rare sex scene that expresses what’s going on with the characters better than any dialogue could.

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Kelly has lots of fun staging some bad porn acting in the Corrigan movies, but then he smoothly switches gears when Harlow gets upset and needs to stop a scene that Joe is shooting. We learn that Harlow was molested by his stepfather, and as Joe comforts him, Franco and Allen hit a very uncomfortable level of co-dependent emotion. Dread about what might happen next starts to steadily build as Corrigan tries to break away from Stephen, who has trademarked his stage name and has him under contract.

When Corrigan takes a business meeting with Joe and Harlow in a Japanese restaurant, Kelly wisely lets their initial talk play out in a long take where the camera steadily inches closer to them, an effective stylistic change that lets us know something is about to give or break. The scene where Harlow auditions for Stephen, which leads up to the killing, is very disturbing because Allen goes much farther with the physical and verbal sexual come-ons than you would expect in a mainstream movie.

Once we’re off-balance, Kelly films the stabbing death of Stephen in a super-controlled way that separates both characters into totally separate filmic spaces, a near-Hitchcockian montage where we never see the knife enter Stephen’s body but just hear its impact. Hitchcock famously advised to shoot a scene of love like a scene of murder and to shoot a scene of murder like a scene of love, and Kelly exactly catches that scary exchange and balance here.

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It is made clear in the scenes that Brent shares with his flaky, loving mother (Alicia Silverstone) that he likes having sex on camera and only dislikes the exploitative situation that he is in with Stephen. In the sexy and amusing final scene, after a movie-long tease, Kelly finally lets Corrigan show us his most noted asset– complete with star tattoo–and this is so funny and suggestive because Clayton manages to look a lot like Corrigan but he also uncannily resembles his fellow Disney Channel alum Zac Efron in look and manner.

The surprising thing about “King Cobra” is that it winds up being a sex-positive movie that’s sympathetic to Corrigan while also poking some gentle, loving fun at him and committed to fully exploring the sadder fates of the three other men who came to their doom in his sunny presence.

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