ATO files: Joshua survives the summer, Choke wraps production

Joshua, the latest film from Dave Matthews and Coran Capshaw's ATO Pictures, wowed audiences this year at the Sundance Film Festival, and its producers inked a $4 million distribution deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures.

While critics widely praised the film, a sort of domestic horror flick about a nine-year-old who wreaks psychological havoc on his family, summer theater audiences seemed to have overlooked Joshua.

According to IMDb, the Internet Movie Data base, Joshua made just

$51,233 on its opening weekend July 8 on six screens, and had grossed only $478,492 by August 5. In sharp contrast, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had grossed nearly $300 million by that time. Still, during the weekend of July 13 Joshua ranked 25th out of about 120 movies being shown– not bad for a small, independent film.

ATO producer Temple Fennell says Joshua is still being shown in a few theaters "here and there," but its major theatrical release is now essentially over after less than two months. "Now we're working on Joshua's release on DVD, which should be out in about three months," he says.

Asked about what he learned from the Joshua experience, Fennell gets a bit tongue-tied. "Give me a few months to mull that one over," he chuckles.

Meanwhile, it appears ATO is refusing to let any grass grow beneath their feet. Fennell reports that ATO has just wrapped production on Choke, a new film starring Sam Rockwell (who also starred in Joshua) and Angelica Huston that's based on a novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. Fennell also mentions that IFC Films recently purchased another ATO film, Savage Grace.

Like Joshua, Choke has a slightly twisted perspective, telling the story of Victor Mancini (Rockwell), a sex addict and colonial theme park worker who pretends to choke on his food at upscale restaurants as a way to scam those who comes to his rescue out of their money. Of course, it's all done to pay for his mother's hospital bills as she suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Other ATO films include High Water (2007) and Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (2002).