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SXSW Preview + Hot List: Movies With Pedro Pascal, Ayo Edebiri & Diane Warren For Sale As Stormy Daniels Rides Into Austin To Shake Up Festival

You can tell it’s spring.

In Vermont, sap flows out of maple trees. But for Hollywood, movies go off like fireworks in the Lone Star State at SXSW.

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The third edition of the Austin festival since coming out of the pandemic — and dual strikes — hasn’t lost its shine: When it comes to creating an “it” movie for the spring or summer, SXSW remains a helluva tastemaker event to stoke the 18-34 crowd.

It’s where A Quiet Place triggered its first screams in 2018 before morphing into a $638M franchise (the third film is due this summer), and it’s where Everything Everywhere All at Once in 2022 began its yearlong journey to Oscars 2023, taking home several trophies including Best Picture — a first for any SXSW world premiere.

Ryan Gosling stars in 'The Fall Guy'
Ryan Gosling in ‘The Fall Guy’

However, the one logistical headache here for the second year in a row is having the festival’s first weekend on Oscar Sunday. That obstacle prevents talent from coming in for the first part of the festival, with many flying in after March 10. It also backloads the festival with big titles at a time when members of the press and other attendees already have gone home. Post-Oscars last year, notable titles that premiered here included Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 and Joy Ride, New Line’s Evil Dead and Amazon MGM Studios’ Air — big stuff one normally finds at the front of a festival.

Conor McGregor, Jake Gyllenhaal & Post Malone "Road House" Posters
Conor McGregor, Jake Gyllenhaal & Post Malone “Road House” Posters

RELATED: SXSW Sets Anne Hathaway Movie ‘The Idea Of You’ As Closing-Night Film

This year’s post-Oscar bookings at Austin’s Paramount Theatre include Universal’s Monkeypaw-produced Monkey Man, directed by Dev Patel, as well as the studio’s summer kickoff David Leitch-directed title, The Fall Guy, with Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, in addition to Neon’s Sydney Sweeney-as-a-nun horror movie, Immaculate. Michael Showalter, a SXSW standard, is closing the fest with his Anne Hathaway romantic drama The Idea of You on March 16.

RELATED: Doug Liman’s Amazon MGM Movie ‘Road House’ To Open SXSW

This year, Hollywood is teeing off with the Doug Liman-directed 1980s redux Road House, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor for Amazon’s Prime Video. As expressed exclusively on Deadline, Liman was irate that the studio opted for a streaming release over theatrical for the fisticuffs film. As such, he won’t be here Friday night when the movie premieres at the Paramount. It’s the first time that a streaming movie has opened SXSW, a space typically saved for a major theatrical tentpole. Last year it was Paramount/Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Kirsten Dunst in Civil War movie
Kirsten Dunst in ‘Civil War’

But the edgiest of all edgy movies looking to start a revolution down here is the world premiere of Alex Garland’s prescience political action thriller Civil War, about a divided United States in a dystopian future. Why isn’t Civil War kicking off SXSW? We understand that piece of programming came together at the very last minute, simply put.

SXSW had a clever solution to Oscar Sunday last year: It booked local filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s $70M Ben Affleck-led noir movie Hypnotic. Attendees jam-packed the Paramount, essentially underscoring that festival attendees aren’t distracted by the glitz and glamour of Oscar Night. Unfortunately, the movie was panned by critics at 32% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed only $4.5M stateside. This year’s booking at the Paramount Theatre on Oscar Night is an encore of the Sundance title I Saw the TV Glow, produced by Oscar winner and Poor Things nominee Emma Stone and directed by Jane Schoenbrun.

Speaking of politics — for an election year, SXSW is kind of quiet and sans notable speakers. In years past, the confab has drawn former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and even MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. However, without major political speakers, it’s clear that the festival is sidestepping any controversies in Texas’ Democratic oasis. That said, Donald Trump agitator and porn actress Stormy Daniels is as controversial as it gets, and she’ll be making an appearance at the Stateside Theater for the Friday night premiere of the Sarah Gibson-directed and Judd Apatow-produced Peacock documentary, Stormy. If she makes you too angry, well, perhaps the pending M&A craze makes you less so as FTC Chair Linda Khan will take the stage Saturday to discuss how DC is handling AI, big tech and antitrust.

Peacock original documentary 'Stormy'
Peacock Original Documentary ‘Stormy’

In regards to the Oscars’ impact on the acquisitions space, sellers tell us that the ceremony and SXSW do not go hand-in-hand, creating challenges and dissipating the sales process. Sure, sellers cover their bases with follow-up screenings back in L.A., but there’s nothing like the rapturous response to a young filmmaker’s work from a SXSW crowd. While we’re told all the labels show up in some form or fashion down South with at least one executive — i.e. Apple, Netflix, Neon, Universal and Searchlight — it’s not always the top-brass execs in attendance. Much of that has to do with SXSW trailing the behemoth winter market of Berlin.

RELATED: Berlin Film Festival 2024: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews

In the wake of the dual strikes, content-starved distributors created a better-than-anticipated Sundance. That’s not necessarily the case down here as most buyers traditionally are slow to snap up movies. In fact, Deadline reported exclusively Thursday that two of last year’s big titles here at SXSW finally found buyers: the Sydney Sweeney-Paul Walter Hauser western Americana with Lionsgate and the Karen Gillan comedy Late Bloomers with Vertical.

Still, for sellers, there’s no better place to launch a hipster movie or potential cult director than SXSW. UTA, for one, will be here with plenty of boots on the ground as the event is a fertile ground for signing tomorrow’s filmmakers. Back in 2022, there was the horror sci-fi title Slash/Back, which starred indigenous actors and introduced the world to Canadian filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk. SXSW was a prime venue for the movie and brought visibility to Innuksuk, given the rabid moviegoers in Austin. RLJE bought the movie.

Showalter is another filmmaker who greased his career at SXSW, with his Sally Field movie Hello, My Name Is Doris selling to Roadside Attractions for $1.75M in April 2015, still a notable deal for the fest. This was all before his Oscar momentum with The Big Sick.

Here are some of the hot titles up for sale at SXSW 2024 (all times CT):

OMNI LOOP
Diagnosed with a black hole growing inside her chest, a woman from Miami, Florida decides to solve time travel in order to go back and be the person she always intended to be. Cast: Mary Louise Parker, Ayo Edebiri (hot off an awards season streak and back with another title in Austin after last year’s Bottoms), Hannah Pearl Utt, Chris Witaske, Carlos Jacott, Harris Yulin, Steven Maier, Eddie Cahill. Director/Screenwriter: Bernardo Britto, Producers: Ben Cohen, Patrick Donovan, David Hinojosa. Sales agent: WME Independent. Wednesday, March 13, 11AM, Stateside Theater.

Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edebiri in ‘Omni Loop’
Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edebiri in ‘Omni Loop’

THE UNINVITED
Rose and Sammy’s Hollywood Hills party takes a chaotic turn as elderly stranger Helen exposes hidden truths, reigniting old flames and unearthing secrets. Rose confronts her past, leaving everyone questioning their existence and desires. Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Walton Goggins, Lois Smith, Eva De Dominici, Rufus Sewell, Pedro Pascal, Michael Panes, Kate Comer, Roland Rubio, Annie Kurzen. Director/Screenwriter: Nadia Conners, Producers: Rosie Fellner, Carlos Enrique Cuscó, Ari Taboada. Sales agent: WME Independent. Monday, March 11, 11AM Stateside Theater.

‘The Uninvited’ director Nadia Conners
‘The Uninvited’ director Nadia Conners

A NICE INDIAN BOY
When Naveen brings his fiancé Jay home to meet his family, his traditional Indian parents must contend with accepting his white-orphan-artist-boyfriend and helping them plan the most fabulous Indian wedding their community has ever seen. Cast: Karan Soni, Jonathan Groff, Sunita Mani, Zarna Garg, Harish Patel, Peter S. Kim, Sas Goldberg. Director: Roshan Sethi, Producers: Renee Witt, Charlie McSpadden, Andrew Calof, Justin Baldoni, Screenwriters: Eric Randall, Madhuri Shekar. Sales agent: WME Independent. Tuesday, March 12, 1:30 PM, Stateside Theater.

Madhuri Shekar and Eric Randall in ‘A Nice Indian Boy’
Madhuri Shekar and Eric Randall in ‘A Nice Indian Boy’

DOIN’ IT
A 30-year old Indian-American virgin gets a job teaching high school Sex Ed. Cast: Lilly Singh, Ana Gasteyer, Sabrina Jalees, Stephanie Beatriz, Mary Holland, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Trevor Salter, Sonia Dhillon Tully. Director: Sara Zandieh, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Erica Matlin, Polly Auritt, Lilly Singh, Anita Verma-Lallian, Screenwriters: Lilly Singh, Sara Zandieh, Neel Patel. Sales agent: WME Independent. Tuesday, March 12, 5 PM, Stateside Theater.

Lilly Singh in ‘Doin’ It’
Lilly Singh in ‘Doin’ It’

DESERT ROAD
Riveting thriller follows a woman who crashes her car and walks down the road for help – only to find no matter which way she walks she ends up back at her crashed car again. Cast: Kristine Froseth, Frances Fisher, Beau Bridges, Ryan Hurst, D.B. Woodside, Max Mattern, Ratchel Dratch, Edwin Garcia II. Director/Screenwriter: Shannon Triplett, Producers: Steven Schneider, Josh Clayton, Kirk Martin, Alec Roth, Lauren Bates, Sam Cohan and Roy Lee. Sales agent: UTA Independent Film Group, CAA Media Finance. Sunday March 10, 11AM, Alamo Lamar 4.

Kristine Froseth in ‘Desert Road’
Kristine Froseth in ‘Desert Road’

DIANE WARREN: RELENTLESS
Docu unveils the mystique and defiant personality behind one of the hardest-working and successful songwriters music has ever known. Featuring Clive Davis, Common, Gloria Estefan, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jennifer Hudson, Cher, Randy Jackson, Quincy Jones. Director: Bess Kargman, Producers: Michele Farinola, Peggy Drexler, Bess Kargman. Sales agent: CAA Media Finance. Tuesday, March 12, 11 AM, Zach Theatre.

MY DEAD FRIEND ZOE
Engaged in a mysterious relationship with her wise-cracking (and dead) best friend from the Army, a female veteran is summoned to the remote lake house of her estranged Vietnam vet grandfather. Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Natalie Morales, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Gloria Reuben. Director: Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, Producers: Paul Scanlan, Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, Terri Lubaroff, Ray Maiello, Mike Field, Richard Silverman, Robert Paschall Jr., Screenwriters: Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, AJ Bermudez. Sales agent: CAA Media Finance. Saturday, March 9, Paramount Theatre, 3 PM.

From left: Ed Harris, Natalie Morales and Sonequa Martin-Green in ‘My Dead Friend Zoe’
From left: Ed Harris, Natalie Morales and Sonequa Martin-Green in ‘My Dead Friend Zoe’

I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU
Following a devastating adoption scam, a couple go on an Italian vacation in an attempt to reconnect. After getting their rental car stuck in a countryside ditch, things begin to go awry. Between the torrential weather and language barrier, Dom, Cole and the Italians around them descend into a comical fiasco. Cast: Nick Kroll, Andrew Rannells, Nunzia Schiano, Morgan Spector, Eleonora Romandini. Director: Brian Crano, Producers: Kara Durrett, Jessamine Burgum, Jon Glickman, Joel Edgerton, Nash Edgerton, Screenwriters: Brian Crano, David Craig Sales Agent: UTA Independent Film Group. Friday, March 8, Zach Theatre, 9 PM.

Nick Kroll, left, and Andrew Rannells in ‘I Don’t Understand You’
Nick Kroll, left, and Andrew Rannells in ‘I Don’t Understand You’

BOB TREVINO LIKES IT
After searching for her estranged father online, a people-pleasing young woman unexpectedly forms a close bond with a grieving, childless man with the same name as her father on Facebook. Inspired by a true story. Cast: Barbie Ferreira, John Leguizamo, French Stewart, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Rachel Bay Jones. Director/Screenwriter: Tracie Laymon, Producers: Tracie Laymon, Sean Mullin, Edgar Rosa, Felipe Dieppa. Sales agent: UTA Independent Film Group. Saturday March 9, 3 PM, Zach Theatre.

Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo in ‘Bob Trevino Likes It’
Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo in ‘Bob Trevino Likes It’

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME
Documentary. Born without legs, Jen Bricker is abandoned at the hospital by her biological parents. Raised in Illinois, Jen begins to idolize America’s superstar gymnast – the mesmerizing Dominique Moceanu. As Jen watches on from afar, Dominique wins gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics before becoming a pioneering voice in the sport, calling out institutional abuse that would culminate in the Larry Nassar scandal. Inspired by her hero Dominique, Jen competes at the junior Olympics and goes on to become a world-famous aerialist and motivational speaker, her online videos viewed over 180 million times. But little does Jen know that all along, she and Dominique share a shocking secret. A film by Torquil Jones. Starring Dominique Moceanu, Jen Bricker, Sharon Bricker, Simone Biles, Jennifer Sey, Tasha Schwikert. Sales agent: UTA Independent Film Group, Monday March 11, 6 PM, Zach Theatre.

‘She Looks Like Me’
‘She Looks Like Me’

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