By Peter Knegt
Emilio Estevez and Elixir Films' David alexanian announced today that they have partnered with John Sloss and Bart Walker's Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) and Trevor Drinkwater's ARC Entertainment to release The Way, written and directed by Estevez and starring Martin Sheen, on Friday, October 7. The film which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival where it played to standing ovations and critical acclaim, was produced by David Alexanian and partly based on the Jack Hitt book, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain. It was filmed in Spain and France along the famed Camino de Santiago.
The film will open in 15 markets in the first week exclusively in AMC Theatres as part of a strategic marketing alliance with the theatre chain. It will expand to another 15 markets on October 14 and then will expand to 500 screens in theatres across the country on October 21. Elixir, PDA and ARC have assembled a strong team of experienced film veterans to release the film including Dennis Rice, Richard Abramowitz, Cynthia Swartz of 42West, Marc Schiller of Electric Artists, Tierney Kelly, Terry Hines and for digital distribution, FilmBuff. The film's release will be supported by an aggressive marketing plan that includes advertising, publicity, and promotion, in addition to an extensive grassroots effort directed at bringing the movie and its stars to the heartland of America.
Supplementing the efforts of the core team will be a number of marketing specialists who will help the core group implement the film's unique and wide-ranging grassroots strategy. Jonathan Bock and his Grace Hill Media team will handle the faith-based audience, Maximus will outreach to the Catholic community, 360 Degree Communications will take on the body/mind/spirit world, H & M Communications will tap the Hispanic market and Kelly Seehausen of Big Picture is arranging sponsorships.
Integral to The Way's marketing strategy will be a North American bus tour that Estevez and Sheen will take in the eight weeks prior to the film's wide October release. The tour will kick off in late August and will see Estevez and Sheen not only doing the traditional media appearances but also bringing the film directly to all of its core constituencies via screenings and special appearances.
PDA's John Sloss comments, "The Way is the kind of film that does not come around often. It is an extremely moving film that is also wholly entertaining. It elicits a strong emotional response from people of all faiths and from people who just appreciate the experience of being uplifted and inspired by a motion picture. I am proud to have worked with Emilio, David and Trevor to assemble a terrific team who will give this film the innovative and aggressive release it deserves. For a concept like PDA to work as effectively as we have on Exit Through the Gift Shop and hope to on Senna, you need a film that resonates powerfully across wide and varied audiences. In Emilio's film, we feel we have just that."
"I applaud Emilio and David for seeking out an independent distribution system which will leverage the assembled resources throughout the film's life cycle and across revenue streams to maximize its commercial value," commented Drinkwater "I am honored to be a part of this endeavor."
Estevez notes: "The Way is a very special film that Martin and I are extremely proud, passionate and protective of. We are thrilled to be so soundly supported by this equally passionate team of talented individuals and companies who share a rare and profound understanding of the picture as well as the spirit of how David and I put the project together."
Adds David Alexanian: "Emilio and I met with a number of enthusiastic distributors following the film's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. John Sloss and Trevor Drinkwater differentiated themselves by clarifying their commitment to giving our independently spirited and independently financed film a proper mainstream commercial release. We are sincerely looking forward to working with PDA/ARC and making this unique partnership mutually beneficial and are very appreciative of the support we are getting from AMC."
"We are proud to be the first leg of getting The Way onto movie screens around the country," said Nikkole Denson-Randolph, Vice President of Specialty and Alternative Content, AMC Theatres. "The film's independent spirit and immense appeal to many different audiences make it a perfect fit for AMC."
The Way is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges we face while navigating this ever changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (played by Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Rather than return home , Tom decides embark on the historical pilgrimage to honor his son's desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn't plan on, is the profound impact the journey will have on him and his "California Bubble Life".
Inexperienced as a trekker, Tom soon discovers that he will not be alone on this journey. On The Way, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, each with their own "issues" and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) who is suffering from a bout of "writer's block."
From the unexpected and oftentimes, amusing experiences along The Way, this unlikely quartet of misfits create an everlasting bond and Tom begins to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world again. Through Tom's unresolved relationship with his son, he discovers the difference between "the life we live and the life we choose."