Starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart, Walter Salles' On the Road movie version of Jack Kerouac's iconic novel will be distributed in North America by IFC Films and Sundance Selects. Is that good news for North Americans? Definitely. Is that good news for On the Road? Well, it's both good and not-so-good news.
It's good news in that Walter Salles' film has finally landed a U.S. distributor, which means a 2012 release – some time in the fall, according to reports. It's not great news for those who were expecting On the Road to find a box office and awards-season-savvy North American distributor.
IFC Films releases usually get enthusiastic reviews, but for the most part they have performed modestly – or downright poorly (at times abysmally) – at the North American box office. Andrew Haigh's Weekend took in $484k, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne's The Kid with a Bike $1.21 million, Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope $295k, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know $3.88 million, Steven Soderbergh's Che $1.49 million, Julia Stiles' The Business of Strangers $1.03 million, Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier $352k, Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams $5.3 million, and Wim Wenders' Pina $3.52m.
The last two IFC-distributed movies to earn more than $10m – even adjusting for inflation – were both released a decade ago: Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding (an astounding $241.43m) and Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu mamá también ($13.83m). In fact, those are the only two IFC movies to have raked in more than $10m in North America according to figures found at Box Office Mojo.
IFC Films' modest Academy Awards record
As for the 2012/2013 awards season ... Well, had The Weinstein Company bought On the Road's North American rights, it'd have been great news for the film and its talent if only because Harvey Weinstein's awards-season machinery would have automatically turned On the Road into a major Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, etc. contender. Really, how many people watching Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist at Cannes back in May 2011 would have guessed that nine months later the silent, French-made film would take home the Best Picture Academy Award?
True, IFC Films' Pina did manage a Best Documentary Feature Academy Award nod earlier this year, but Me and You and Everyone We Know, Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah, Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Errol Morris' Tabloid, Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, and Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours, despite numerous positive reviews and US critics' awards – failed to receive a single Oscar nod.
When it comes to the Academy Awards, the rare IFC Films that have been shortlisted by the Academy have found themselves in the running in the best screenplay categories, e.g., My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y tu mamá también, and Armando Iannucci's In the Loop. Additionally, Susanne Bier's After Wedding was a Best Foreign Language Film nominee. That's about it.
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Garrett Hedlund / Sam Riley / On the Road photo: Gregory Smith / Jerry Leider Company.