“To Leslie,” the independent drama that earned Andrea Riseborough one of the most surprising Oscar nods, premiered at Monica Film Center in Santa Monica on Oct. 9 and closed after five days to an empty house.
After its theatrical run, it grossed $27,000 worldwide—not a million. On his WTF show, Marc Maron, who appears alongside Riseborough in the bleak drama about an addict returning to her West Texas birthplace to mend her life, was furious at Momentum Pictures’ handling of the picture. And now this movie with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score that everyone should watch has been hampered by the folks who released it.”
On the route to oblivion, a weird thing happened
Riseborough, a talented English actress who has worked with Mike Leigh and Alejandro G. Iñárritu and garnered many fans and allies, somehow entered the awards season discourse. She wasn’t on Sunset Boulevard billboards or bargain-for-your-consideration advertising. That was unaffordable.
She had connections. “To Leslie” director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack, called virtually all of their friends to view the film and spread the word if they liked it.
Charlize Theron hosted a November screening at Creative Arts Agency in Century City. It’s a memorable film. Your bones remember. “To Leslie” is a homage to 1970s independent films, Theron noted. Later that month, Edward Norton and Jennifer Aniston hosted screenings at their residences.
Riseborough then met with Shelter PR, who agreed to launch a campaign using Narrative PR. No money existed beyond Riseborough and Morris’s spending. Riseborough and the publicists started calling actors on McCormack’s and Morris’ recommendations. While Hollywood was hiding from the film academy’s streaming platform during the holidays, they created a base of support unleashed in 2023.
“It went from zero to 100 quicker than anything I’ve ever seen,” claims a campaign insider. “It was love and support for a performance.”
In early January, Gwyneth Paltrow presented a viewing of the “masterpiece.” Courteney Cox followed. Oscar nominations voting began on Jan. 12, and Rosanna Arquette introduced “To Leslie” to a crowded theatre at the Directors Guild on Sunset the following day. Riseborough, Morris, Janney, Maron, and Royo joined Demi Moore onstage after the credits. Theatregoers stayed.
Next day, Riseborough’s “Lee” co-star Kate Winslet led a Q&A. Winslet advised Riseborough to be ready for everything. “You should win everything. Andrea Riseborough, this is the best female cinematic performance I’ve ever seen.” Amy Adams held a similar ceremony hours before voting ended last week, saying she was “happy to share the word… about this wonderful achievement of filmmaking.”