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Andy Samberg’s ‘Palm Springs’ Makes A Splash, Natalie Erika James Makes Haunting Directorial Debut With ‘Relic’ – Specialty Streaming Preview

With its sun-kissed energy and oasis vibes, it’s appropriate that the Max Barbakow-directed comedy Palm Springs be released during the summer. The time-hopping comedy made its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year and drops on Hulu today.

The film written by Andy Siara follows carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg), who meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti’s Sarah) a reluctant maid of honor who is in Palm Springs for a wedding. Trapped at this venue, things take a very interesting turn and they go on an existential time-loop journey of getting to know each other and themselves. During Sundance, Siara told Deadline that it the movie was kind of based on the experience that Barbakow had at his wedding.

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“All those thoughts that go into making those major life decisions, commitment and all that stuff — it’s kind of just all injected into this movie,” said Siara. “It’s just wrestling with those decisions that I think we all can relate to on some level.”

The story of the acquisition is quite interesting as it was a record-breaking deal that was made during the Park City fest… a deal that made history in the most interesting way.

NEON and Hulu co-acquired the rights to Palm Springs for $17,500,000.69, which surpassed Fox Searchlight’s 2016 acquisition of The Birth of a Nation which went for $17.5 million. During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Samberg, who also produced the movie, shared how the Groundhog Day-esque pic broke that record by 69 cents.

When Samberg and the producers received an offer that matched the record-high, he said, “We should ask to throw a dollar more to make it the highest sale ever.” His fellow producer and Lonely Island cohort Akiva Schaffer said that they should add 69 cents — and they shattered the record by 69 cents.

Deadline exclusively reported that NEON and Hulu were acquiring Palm Springs at Sundance — but later learned that the film was worth substantially more. There was a heated bidding war and the value of the deal was actually closer to $22 million, which is more than the biggest Sundance deal of all-time.

The film also stars J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, and Peter Gallagher. Watch the trailer below.

Natalia Erika James makes her directorial debut with the chilling IFC Midnight horror Relic starring Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote and Robyn Nevin.

Written by James, the film made its world premiere at Sundance and follows the story of Kay (Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Heathcote) as they rush to their family’s country home to investigate the disappearance of Kay’s mother Edna (Nevin). They find clues about her increasing dementia and when she returns just as mysteriously as she vanished, Kay is concerned that her mother is unable to say where she has been while Sam is just happy to have her back.

Kay and Sam begin to notice that Edna’s behavior has turned creepy and increasingly volatile  which leads them to believe of an insidious presence in the house that might be taking control of her — and that’s where the haunting scares happen.

The story hits close to home for James. During Sundance, she told Deadline earlier this year that Relic was inspired by a trip to Japan in 2014. While visiting her grandmother, who was succumbing to dementia, she was stunned to experience that first moment when the woman she knew and loved couldn’t remember who she was.

“There was a lot of guilt associated with that, of not having visited her earlier. At the same time, she lived in quite a creepy, traditional Japanese house that was like 100 years old, that I’d always been scared of as a kid,” said James. “So, I think the combination of those two things was the starting point for the film.”

Watch the trailer below.

Praveen Morchhale’s Widow of Silence (Barefoot to Goa, Walking with the Wind) starring Shilpi Marwaha, Ajay Chourey, Noorjahan Mohmmad Younus, Bilal Ahmad, Zaba Banoo and Habibulla opens virtually today at Laemmle Cinemas.

Based on many true stories from conflict-ridden Kashmir, Widow of Silence follows Aasia (Marwaha) who is looking to get a death certificate for her husband who has gone missing. She is deemed a “half-widow” the name given to the many women who’ve lost husbands who have not been declared dead. Needing the death certificate to gain title to the family’s land in order to take care of her aging mother-in-law and her 11-year old daughter, she is confronted by the local corrupt registrar (Chourey), who makes the process an unending bureaucratic nightmare.

The Sundance documentary Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets from directors Bill and Turner Ross sets its virtual run at Film at Lincoln Center starting today after kicking off event screenings July 8 that benefited USBG Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Fund. The docu is set to rollout.

The docu follows the final moments of the Las Vegas dive bar called the Roaring 20s. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets chronicles a mosaic of disparate lives that hang in the balance of dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future, and singing as the bar shutters.

Based on a true story, the dramedy Fisherman’s Friends will debut digitally today before becoming available on-demand July 24.

Directed by Chris Foggin (Kids in Love) and co-written by Meg Leonard (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet) and Nick Moorcroft (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet), the film introduces us to cynical London music executive (Daniel Mays) as he makes his way to a remote Cornish village for a stag weekend — which some may call a bachelor party).  While there, he’s pranked by his boss (Noel Clarke) into trying to sign a group of shanty singing fishermen. He struggles to gain the respect of the unlikely boy band and their families which makes for an ultimate “fish out of water” story  — which is appropriate considering the title of the film. The film also stars James Purefoy, David Hayman and Tuppence Middleton.

Theo James stars alongside Stacy Martin, Rhona Mitra and Toby Jones in the sci-fi pic Archive. Written and directed by Gavin Rothery, Archive is set in 2038 and has James portraying George Almore, who is working on a true human-equivalent AI. As the prototype is on the verge of being ready for the world he enters a risky phase as his goal is to be reunited with his dead wife.

Also making its digital premiere this weekend is Volition from Tony Dean Smith. Marking Smith’s directorial debut, the sci-fi thriller follows a man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder. Smith co-wrote the pic with his brother and producing partner Ryan W. Smith. It stars Adrian Glynn McMorran, Magda Apanowicz, John Cassini, Frank Cassini, Aleks Paunovic and Bill Marchant.

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