Screening at the jam-packed near 2,500 seat Eccles Theater just outside Park City, the Elijah Bynum film had the room buzzing early on with a crowd that included the likes of director Boots Riley, Sundance juror Jeremy O. Harris, Sony Pictures Classics co-head Michael Barker, Searchlight Distribution Boss Frank Rodriguez, and the label’s SVP of Acquisitions and Production Chan Phung. Magazine Dreams was such a must-see that many of these buyers were forced to cue up in crowded lobby before theater ushers allowed them in; the film starting 45 minutes late. Afterwards there was a lot of activity in the lobby with would be buyers intermingling with the audience of the next movie.
Magazine Dreams is certain to be lifting some heavyweight with buyers. While the first in-person Sundance since 2020 remained a hybrid festival, sellers of the pic remained adamant that the movie be screened before the media and buyers on-the-ground on premiere night; meaning no advance digital or theatrical screenings.
“There’s a lot of focus on this film,” said one buyer, “Not only because of Jonathan Majors, but also because of the impact of the story.”
Depicting the downward and deadly spiral of a deeply traumatized amateur body builder, the film co-starring Haley Bennett and Taylour Paige, spares no punches on issues on race, poverty, sexuality and marginalization. As the film progressed, there were scatters of people leaving the theater, clearly distressed by what they’d seen. After less than a minute of applause, 25% of the film emptied.
“The density of the character and the density of the muscle went hand in hand,” Majors said tonight at the premiere’s Q&A.
Paige, having seen the film for the first time, was greatly moved, breaking down in tears to great applause, “We have to take care of each other.”
“We’re so fragile and we’re all walking this fine line of being okay, but we’re not okay,” Paige added.
When she read the script, she described like “It was like scab and I kept picking at it, it hurts. I didn’t want to look away. We have to walk each other home, we have to take care of each other. These are our brothers, these are our fathers. It’s all so complicated. This lovelessness in our culture is tired. Let’s just be better to each other,” the Indie Spirit Winning Actress said.
Majors told Deadline’s Mike Fleming earlier today about the film, “It really speaks about a minority that walks around us, all the time. A group of people that are marginalized, mentally and socially in their interpersonal interactions, in their day-to-day as they move amongst us every day. I consider myself one of those individuals. Man, look, it’s, it’s so interesting talking to you. I’m driving into Sundance, and drove in from New York City for this. There were towns along the way where, when I got out, I wasn’t viewed as Jonathan Majors as much as I was Killian Maddox.”