NEW YORK — Bypassing a substantial six-figure theatrical offer from Lions Gate Pictures, Allison Anders’ new movie “Things Behind the Sun” will instead world premiere on Showtime later this year.
“We agonized over the decision to go with Showtime rather than theatrically,” said Howard Cohen, who represents Anders at United Talent Agency. “But Anders concluded that the moviegoing public has rejected films that deal with social issues in a serious way.”
Anders first made her mark as a director with the 1992 pic “Gas Food Lodging.”
“Things Behind the Sun,” which screened at the Sundance Film Festival this year, concerns “two people scarred by childhood rape and their struggle to piece together the past and move on,” according to a Showtime statement. The ensemble cast includes Kim Dickens, Gabriel Mann, Don Cheadle, Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette.
“Things Behind the Sun” “fits the profile of the kind of movie that Showtime wants to associate itself with — a personal story that’s controversial but sensitively handled,” said Matthew Duda, exec VP of program acquisitions and planning for Showtime Networks. Duda cited such previous Showtime world premieres as Adrian Lyne’s “Lolita” and Anjelica Huston’s “Bastard Out of Carolina” as movies matching the network’s “no limits” profile.
Neither Cohen nor Duda would comment on dollar figures, but sources said Showtime paid in the high six figures for the pay TV and homevideo rights to the Anders movie. Pic will play on Showtime and two of its sister networks, the Sundance Channel and Showtime Next.
Anders said she agreed to the Showtime deal because the “theatrical marketplace is so scary right now for independents, and God only knows what it will be like when all the pre-strike films are competing for screens.”
Cohen said that even if the movie premiered in theaters and broke through to a domestic gross of $5 million, that would still mean that only 1 million people would’ve paid to see it. That’s fewer by far than will watch the multiple runs of the movie in its first 45-day Showtime window, particularly since the cabler plans some heavy promotion to make its subscribers aware of the film.
Theatrical run possible
Duda said he has also offered the producers the option of releasing “Sun” to theaters in a select number of markets following its run on Showtime. Previous world premieres that took advantage of post-Showtime runs in theaters include “Hearts of Darkness,” about the making of “Apocalypse Now,” and the Kevin Bacon-directed “Losing Chase,” a drama with Helen Mirren and Beau Bridges.
“Sun” was co-written by Anders and Kurt Voss. The producers are Don Hassid, Doug Mankoff and Robin Alper. Executive producers are Gary Barkin, Peter Wetherell, Marla Grossman and Joseph Rice. Pic’s from Echo Lake Prods./Sidekick Entertainment.