The Lobster, a dystopian romance from acclaimed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), was reportedly picked up by A24 Films. The film, which won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, was previously acquired by budding indie distributor Alchemy and set to open in the United States next month. In a somewhat rare move, and one that posits a certain instability in the future viability of Alchemy, The Lobster jumped to A24.
Alchemy, which was formerly known as Millennium Entertainment, came out with an aggressive slate of independent features in the last year. These included the well-reviewed dark comedy Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig, the Sundance 2015 drama Strangerland which featured Oscar winner Nicole Kidman and controversial Cannes film Love from provocateur Gaspar Noe (Irreversible). Trouble is, neither of films made much a dent at the box office – in fact the only Alchemy release to gross more than $1 million at the domestic box office was the crowd-pleasing documentary Meet the Patels. That financial burden, coupled with the abrupt exit of Alchemy CEO Bill Lee, point to an uncertain future for the distributor as well as its pending features (which includes Cannes hit Mia Madre, the Rob Zombie horror film 31 and James Franco’s Zeroville.
The shift in distribution may work out in the favor of The Lobster, however. The quirky film- which stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux and John C. Rielly -debuted at Cannes last spring to nearly universally favorable reviews, but poses a hard sell to audiences. The film, set in the near future, explores a world where single people are turned into animals if they are unable to find a suitable romantic partner. A24 Films, which in recent years has had success selling idiosyncratic indies from the likes of Spring Breakers (2013) and Under the Skin (2014), may well be up to the marketing challenge. The deal was struck at the ongoing Berlin Film Festival.
The Lobster recently earned nominations for Outstanding British Film at the BAFTAs as well as picked up a Best Screenplay prize at the European Film Awards and a Best Supporting Actress trophy at the British Independent Film Awards for Olivia Coleman’s performance. A24 Films hasn’t yet confirmed a release date; we will stay tuned for the latest.