Those wondering when they’d get a chance to see Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, which debuted in January at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews and no distribution deal, finally have their answer. Or maybe not, because the film will only bow in the top 30 markets, barring theatrical viewing for most living in flyover states.
That 30 city launch will take place soon after an initial bow in New York and Los Angeles, which is scheduled for August 10. One assumes that if Red Hook Summer does well, it will have the opportunity to expand to even more cities, but that would be rather uncharted territory for Variance, whose largest release thus far (Jackie Chan’s 1911) peaked at a mere 33 theaters.
The release, as detailed in The Hollywood Reporter, is being dubbed a “partnership” between Variance and Lee. No word on whether that’s just empty PR-jargon, or whether it means Lee will play a more hands-on role in the distribution process than filmmakers usually do. This seems to be his most personal project in some time, bringing back Mookie, his character from Do the Right Thing.
With the exception of the blockbuster Inside Man, Lee hasn’t had a true box office hit in almost a decade, with his career low being 2004’s She Hate Me, which peaked at 28 theaters and grossed a pathetic $366,000 total. Provided that Red Hook Summer is at least decent (as most Sundance reviews seemed to conclude), one hopes that Variance CEO Dylan Marchetti, one of the smarter minds in current independent film distribution, can at least best that figure, despite the small size of his company.