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"Cache" Mounts a Foreign-Lingo Comeback; Are "Tsotsi" and "L'Enfant" Next?

by Anthony Kaufman
March 26, 2006 11:24 AM
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Austrian master Michael Haneke has a bona fide art house hit in Cache (aka Hidden). Has anyone checked the U.S. box office grosses lately? Over $3 million. After fourteen weeks in release, the movie continues to play in theaters, with ticket sales likely to near $3.5 million (and with not a single Oscar nom to rely on). In the UK, The Guardian reports that the film is also doing shockingly good business. "Caché has broken out of the arthouse ghetto," writes Jon Bentham after the film topped 1 million pounds at the British box office (on just 26 prints).

According to the story, the film's success was attributed to the marketing (it's a "whodunnit" thriller puzzle mystery) and ads that avoided the "art-film angle" -- whatever works, I guess.

But what works in the UK will not always work in the U.S. The article cites four recent foreign language successes, U.S. hits Downfall and Hidden, but also The Beat That My Heart Skipped (which did okay in the U.S.) and Consequences of Love, an Italian film that doesn't even have a U.S. distributor.

Back at home, Oscar winner Tsotsi broke the million-dollar mark over the weekend, with grosses now at $1.25 million and the Dardennes brothers' masterful L'enfant opened moderately with over $47,000 in 7 theaters (not enough to top the indieWIRE BOT, but good enough if it can keep on going.) If you haven't seen it, check it out and see whether all my hype is justified.

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