In a late season move, Cake, a new dark comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, has been picked up for U.S. distribution and will be given an awards qualifying run this December before opening wider next January. Cake will be released by Cinelou Releasing, an upstart distributor launched by Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon, two of the film’s producers. This will mark their first release. “We’re very proud and excited that our new distribution banner will allow Cake to be released with the same passion and commitment that went into making the film,” said Canton.
The film, from director Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland, Won’t Back Down) had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. Upon first impression, Aniston’s lead performance was considered by many critics a highlight of the festival and was quickly touted an awards contender if the film (then distributor-less) could reach theaters in time, especially since many pundits consider the leading actress race of 2014 to be relatively slim. However, the question remained – who would back the dark, seemingly hard-to-market dramedy? The story is about a damaged woman named Claire (Aniston), who seeks relief by attending a chronic pain support group, only to become entangled in a strange relationship with a widower (played by Sam Worthington of The Way Way Back) and obsessed by fantastical hallucinations of his dead wife (played by Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect). Felicity Huffman (Transamerica), William H. Macy (Fargo), Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher), Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Mamie Gumer (Side Effects), Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), and the late Misty Upham (August: Osage County) co-star.
An oddball premise like the one in Cake, even with a solid ensemble cast, was always likely to need some help in landing a distributor. And so, Cinelou Releasing is added to the ever growing list of newly operational indie distributing arms. Now the question becomes whether the fledgling company can make any headway during awards season. Aniston has proven to be an actress of more dramatic heft from time to time (especially with her turn as a bored housewife in her Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance in Miguel Arteta’s 2002 drama The Good Girl) and was the most awarded actor on Friends (winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for role as Rachel Green).
Cake will be released for one week sometime in December, qualifying the film for awards consideration before opening wider in January. That’s the same tactic being used for Still Alice, another dramatic feature that’s earned awards buzz for its leading lady, Julianne Moore.