By MCN Editor

STX On The Launch of DESIERTO

STX Entertainment’s thriller Desierto opened this weekend in 20 markets on 73 screens taking in $450k and earning a strong per screen average of $6,164.

Desierto was acquired for approximately $1.5 million and the studio’s exposure on the title is minimal. Key cities where the film launched included Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Miami, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, Phoenix and SF, among others.

STX chose theater locations that appeal to cinephiles and fans of the thriller genre, along with theaters where audiences respond to quality Spanish-language films like Desierto, which is Mexico’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Academy Awards. The studio will look at expansion opportunities in the coming weeks.

In an election year when the topics of illegal immigration and border security are such a heated part of the national debate and discussion, this film has resonated strongly with audiences, critics, pundits and cultural observers – it is not just a heart-pounding and suspenseful thriller, but a truly thought provoking cinematic experience.  The film stars Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mamá También) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen).

STX Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group acquired North American rights to the movie out of the Toronto Film Festival in 2015 because of the outstanding opportunity to work with the Cuaróns, who are among the most talented filmmakers in the industry.

From Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmakers of Gravity,” Desierto is a thriller that is set in the very spot that has been a flash point for discussion in this year’s Presidential election: The U.S.-Mexico border. In the film, what begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous border. In the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there’s nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer.

Among the national talk show appearances promoting the film, Gael appeared on THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT and did a hilarious comedy sketch on Donald Trump’s “Border Wall” policy. The Mexican release of the film (which STX was not involved with) included marketing and a trailer that used Donald Trump’s inflammatory speech about Mexico in which he called for a border wall to separate the two countries.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon