Sleepwalker, directed by Elliott Lester, who, at the time was coming off his triumph for Nightingale, was completed and scheduled for release in 2015. The scriptwriter, Jack Olsen, is a relatively unknown. Sleepwalker would be his first feature film credit. Olsen has another film in production.
Elliott Lester was lucky and talented enough to get Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B to finance and enter a distribtution deal for Nightingale, which was only shown at film festivals and then released on HBO. You might want to compare Plan B’s roster to those of the production companies that financed Sleepwalker. Brad Pitt can really pick them. 12 Years a Slave, Selma, and The Big Short are among Plan B’s most recent releases.
My first concern is that the primary producer for Sleepwalker, Night and Day Pictures , hasn’t done much of note since Waitress in 2007, if you can call that notable. Other films include Save the Date and Serious Moonlight, some of which debuted at large film festivals. Only 7 films are listed on their website marquis ( which may be outdated). In the wings are such titles as Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant and some movies for Lifetime (TV) including The Restless Virgins. Cardboard Boxer, completed in 2013, received a lot of press and was scheduled to be released in 2015. It didn’t make it to release yet.
Sleepwalker is not mentioned on the Night and Day website.
It may be that the strategy is to try film festivals again, but Sleepwalker is not on any list for Sundance, later this month and Tribeca FF has just concluded receiving submissions.
My second concern is that the other production company, MarVista (which is also a distribution company, but mostly for TV and on digital platforms) seems to concentrate on family films for TV ( with connections to Disney, Lifetime Hallmark and Nick cable stations). The feature films they list seem to be of the horror genre Most Likely to Die, Caught, and A Deadly Adoption which premiered on Lifetime TV. Aside from that – lots of B-grade romances, Christmas stories and pet films.
MarVista has a large library, but it appears that many of their works have been acquired after completion, and not original to them. MarVista’s latest film ( not original to the production company) is Terrordactyl scheduled for release in 2016 – probably for TV. ( sounds a little like a Sharknado rip-off).
Sleepwalker is not mentioned on their website.
Therefore, I wonder whether Sleepwalker is having distribution problems, or is there is some wider strategy to try it out at film festivals, not as competition, but for marketing screenings.
I’m learning more about the film business than I knew before, thanks to Richard Armitage, but not enough to know what’s going on here. I would have thought – I did think a while ago – that after Nightingale, which showed outstanding directorial talent, and recent Hannibal, Hobbit and The Crucible accolades for star Richard Armitage, distributors in the film industry would be chomping at the bit to get a look at Sleepwalker.
On the positive front, and in opposition to what’s happening with Sleepwalker, Pilgrimage and Brain on Fire have distributors. Maybe we need a little Irish to get Sleepwalker off the bench.