By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 2, 2009 at 6:53AM
Is Sony Pictures Classics going to release every indie art film? I'm exaggerating, but not by much. As the rest of the indie distribs either adopt a bigger or smaller economic model, SPC is left to clean up in the middle range.
If a movie doesn't sell to Fox Searchlight, Weinstein Co. or Focus Features (with WIP, Picturehouse, Miramax, Vantage now out of the equation) the only other option besides the smaller outfits IFC, Magnolia, Roadside Attractions, Goldwyn and Apparition is the one remaining established studio subsid, SPC. While Weinstein Co. acquired A Single Man at the Toronto Fest and other films went to small indies, SPC acquired various territories on other releasable titles: French fest pre-buy Micmacs (2010), Israeli film Lebanon (2010) and Robert Duvall drama Get Low (2010).
And now finally, SPC has picked up U.S. rights to Rodrigo Garcia's intense ensemble drama Mother and Child that features strong performances from Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson. Exec producer is Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel). UPDATE: SPC will open the film in May, says co-president Michael Barker. "Annette Bening is staggering in the film. It's like the performance that Julie Christie gave some years back. It's an accessible drama that will resonate with women of all ages."
SPC also released Being Julia in 2004, which earned Bening her third Oscar nomination (after The Grifters and American Beauty). SPC could push Bening for a nom, given that she's overdue. This is just the sort of movie that the Academy actors could eat up. But it's too late in the day to mount a campaign for this year.
SPC already has a lot piled on its plate. Already in release are An Education, starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina, who all have strong awards potential. Outside shots are possible for Michael Sheen for The Damned United and Audrey Tautou for Coco Before Chanel. Set for limited December 23 release is Telluride premiere The Last Station, which boasts awards-friendly Helen Mirren. Cannes pick-ups A Prophet and White Ribbon are submitted for foreign Oscar consideration by France and Germany, respectively.
Less likely to head into Oscar territory are Moon, starring Sam Rockwell (which boasts a grassroots internet Oscar campaign), Cannes title The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (December 25) and Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, starring Penelope Cruz, which will nonetheless require some promo work (November 20). SPC will have to give it a whirl. If they have any energy left.