Molly Manning Walker’s How To Have Sex, Emma Seligman’s Bottoms and Kitty Green’s The Royal Hotel are all opening in UK-Ireland cinemas, on a weekend with several well-reviewed films by and about women.
Starting in 150 cinemas through Mubi, How To Have Sex is the debut feature of Screen 2021 Star of Tomorrow Walker. The film follows three British teenage girls on a clubbing holiday in Malia, where one of the group has her first experiences with sex. The cast includes fellow Screen Stars Mia McKenna-Bruce and Samuel Bottomley, with casting director Isabella Odoffin also named a Star in 2019.
How To Have Sex won the main award in Un Certain Regard at its Cannes debut in May, with Walker making it back to the Croisette to collect her award mid-way through the ceremony. The film has since played an extensive festival tour at Jerusalem, Melbourne, Toronto, Zurich, Busan and London among others.
Yesterday (November 2) How To Have Sex received 13 nominations at the 2023 British Independent Film Awards. It is up for best British independent film, one of five nominations for Walker alongside best director, screenplay, debut director and debut screenwriter. McKenna-Bruce is nominated in best lead performance and breakthrough performance with Bottomley in supporting performance alongside castmate Shaun Thomas; while in technical categories, Odoffin is nominated for casting, George Buxton for costume design, Natasha Lawes for make-up and hair design and Steve Fanagan for sound.
Warner Bros is opening Bottoms in 405 cinemas across the UK and Ireland. Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri star as two unpopular queer high school students who start a fight club, so they can have sex before graduation.
The film debuted at SXSW in March, and was a box office success upon its US release, scoring the highest post-pandemic location average for a film on 10 screens or more, with $51,625 (it is now up to $12m). Produced by MGM, the film was released by United Artists Releasing in the US. Speculation that it could launch solely on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Ireland was ended when Warner Bros picked up theatrical rights for the territory last month.
Bottoms is US director Seligman’s second feature, after 2020’s Shiva Baby, also starring Sennott, which won the John Cassavetes award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
The Royal Hotel is the fourth feature from Australian filmmaker Green, and follows two backpackers who take a job in a remote Australian pub; only to be confronted with unruly locals and a situation beyond their control.
Produced by UK-Australian company See-Saw Films,The Royal Hotel debuted at Telluride in September, before going on to Toronto, London, and playing as the opening night of SXSW’s Sydney offshoot event last month. Ozark star Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick lead the cast.
With The Royal Hotel starting in 250 sites through Universal, the three widest opening titles of the weekend are all directed by women – a rare occurrence, with the majority of wide-opening releases still directed by men.
It is Green’s first film to receive a significant theatrical rollout; her second feature Casting JonBenet launched straight to Netflix, while The Assistant – nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards – fell foul of the pandemic, launching online in the UK and Ireland in May 2020.
Beckett in cinemas
Studiocanal is starting James Marsh’s Dance First in 77 sites. Directed by UK filmmaker James Marsh, the biographical drama takes in many parts of the life of Irish literary giant Samuel Beckett, including his time in Paris, and as a recluse. Gabriel Byrne plays Waiting For Godot writer Beckett; the film had its world premiere at San Sebastian in September.
Curzon is opening Nicolas Philibert’s documentary On the Adamant, about the patients and caregivers at a Parisian psychiatric centre. The film became a rare documentary to win the Berlinale Golden Bear in February, going on to play festivals in Geneva, Vilnius, Istanbul, Beijing, Sydney, Karlovy Vary, London and Sao Paulo. Parkland Entertainment has Tim Mielants’ romantic drama Nobody Has To Know starring Bouli Lanners and Game Of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley, on 60 screens
Limited releases includeStolen, the first feature film since 2007 from Margo Harkin, in eight cinemas through Wildcard Distribution; action thriller Deep Fear on 10 screens through Jade Films; Hong Kong horror It Remains in 10 cinemas through Trinity/CineAsia; and UK comedy The Bystanders in one site through Screenbound Pictures.
Netflix is starting George C. Wolfe’s Rustin, with Colman Domingo receiving awards buzz for his portrayal of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin; while Apple has sci-fi romance Fingernails from Apples director Christos Nikou, starring Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed and Jeremy Allen White. Neither Netflix nor Amazon share site figures.
Universal’s Five Nights At Freddy’s leads the holdovers after a strong first session; while Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon is also performing well for Paramount, and Trafalgar Releasing’s Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will extend its event cinema record.