And the first film to sell out the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival is . . .

Joe4

Well, that didn’t take long.

Tickets for the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival went on sale at noon on Saturday, March 8. A little over three hours later, festival organizers posted on Facebook that they already had two sellouts.

The first one, “Joe,” was not too much of a surprise. It’s the high-profile opening night film, playing on Thursday, April 3 in the Union South Marquee. It features Nicolas Cage as an ex-con trying to reconnect with his son. And most significantly, writer-director David Gordon Green, who brought his film “George Washington” to the festival over a decade ago, will be at the screening to talk about the film.

The second sellout caught me by surprise. It’s a screening on Thursday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the UW-Cinematheque of Claude Chabrol’s Hitchockian 1967 film “The Champagne Murders,” starring Anthony Perkins and Maurice Ronet. It’s a film that’s never been released on home video in any form in the United States, and it was selected for the festival by Tim Hunter, who directed the landmark teen film “River’s Edge” and is now a successful director on television (“Mad Men,” “Hannibal”). Hunter will introduce the film and talk about it afterwards.

That’s great to see that ticket buyers are hip to what a rare and cool screening that is, and are looking beyond some of the more buzzed-about screenings for special gems like “The Champagne Murders.” (And remember, rush tickets will be available for both films at the screening, if you want to get there early and wait in line.)

Festival organizers said ticket sales were approaching 13,000 in the first three hours alone. It’s shaping up to be a great festival.

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