By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 14, 2012 at 7:21PM
Writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass headed into SXSW with an unusual distribution deal for their long-in-the-works micro-budget brother comedy "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon." They set it up at both Fox Searchlight, which released "Cyrus," and Red Flag Releasing, a small indie run by ex-Warner Independent execs Laura Kim and Paul Federbush, who are able to release the film following its pre-theatrical debut on VOD in a way that the studio cannot without straining relationships with exhibitors. The Duplasses figure they are getting the best of both possible worlds.
The VOD release date via Searchlight and Fox Home Entertainment is June 26. And Red Flag's theatrical release in select markets will follow July 6.
The movie was initially destined as a studio vehicle, but the brothers backed off and raised their own funding so they could shoot it with acting pals Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis and Jennifer Lafleur. It's a terrific, believable, rib-ticklingly funny movie as sibling rivals take "25 events, two brothers, one champion" to a whole new level. (My flipcam interview with the brothers is here.)
The movie is finally coming out after a long delay as the brothers worked on Paramount Vantage's "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" (March 16) and multiple other indie projects. They recently announced their first big-budget studio movie, a Universal remake of "Same Time, Next Year," to be produced by Scott Rudin.
After they finished editing "Jeff" they returned to this labor of love based on two brothers who lived down the street from them in New Orleans when they were growing up. They shot the film in four weeks living at their parents' house. The movie has some large-scale set pieces for such a small budget, and required small numbers of extras to be very convincing.
Truth is, I liked "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon" better than mildly amusing and bigger-budgeted "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," which comes to a satisfying climax but feels like a long slog to get there. The movie stars Susan Sarandon as the mother of long-time slacker Jason Segal and his straight-arrow brother Ed Helms.
Mark Duplass has also been acting in other people's movies: Laurence Kasdan's "Darling Companion" with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline (Sony Pictures Classics, April 20), Colin Trevorrow's engaging sci-fi romance "Safety Not Guaranteed" (FilmDistrict, June 8), opposite Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson, and "Your Sister's Sister," with Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt, from his "Humpday" director Lynn Shelton (IFC, June 15). He also wrote and produced a horror thriller, "Black Rock," for his actress-writer-director wife and "The League" co-star Katie Aselton, which sold to LD Entertainment at Sundance. And he managed to squeeze in time to play a role in Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming "Zero Dark Thirty."