Far more than the mainstream fare, Hurricane Sandy's aftereffects had a major impact in the specialized world, particularly with openings. With lower Manhattan slowly recovering, at least one new film was cancelled (Adopt's "Cafe de Flore") while others were delayed in certain theaters (Weinstein's "This Must Be the Place" at the Sunshine; Zeitgeist's "Gregory Crewdson" at the Film Forum). "Cafe" went ahead with its Miami booking to real success, while wider release "A Late Quartet" showed some promising initial response.
Beyond the temporary disruption caused by Sandy, the bigger ongoing threat is the strong appeal of current studio releases, with both "Argo" and now "Flight" competing for the same audience as year-end awards releases. With an acclaimed James Bond film and "Lincoln" next up, things are only going to get more competitive.
Among other new openings not reporting this week was Magnolia's "Jack and Diane," a New York-set Tribeca Film Festival hit that also debuted on VOD.
"Cafe de Flore" (Adopt) - Metacritic score: Incomplete; Festivals include: Venice 11, Toronto 11, Palm Springs 12
$10,000 in 1 theater; PSA (per screen average): $10,000
Scheduled to open last Friday at NY's Angelika (with LA later), Adopt Films cancelled their plans midweek due to the storm even after some initial reviews appeared. But they went ahead with their scheduled Miami opening, and bolstered by a strong Miami Herald review managed a solid gross, even without the help of often influential national coverage, and despite being in a tiny 144 seat theater.
This Quebec French-language film from director Jean-Marc Vallee ("C.R.A.Z.Y.," "Young Victoria") stars French actress Valerie Paradise in a multi-generational romantic drama. The Miami number shows some immediate older-audience appeal.
What comes next: NY and LA are now set to open on Nov. 16. But Adopt looks like they were able to salvage the film from a damaging situation by proceeding with the Miami date, which should enhance their ability to build momentum.
"The Late Quartet" (eOne) - Metacritic score: 68; Festivals include: Toronto 2012
$76,000 in 9 theaters; PSA: $8,444
This Canadian ensemble costarring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener boasted the weekend's best collection of theaters in NY/LA (including the partially-shuttered Sunshine) plus four other cities. The music drama had a respectable start overall, particularly considering the current competition for adult moviegoers.
What comes next: With some planned national publicity delayed because of storm coverage, next week's new openings in 25 more markets could yield decent results. This will ultimately need strong word of mouth to thrive, but with only "The Sessions" expanding to any sort of significant response in art houses, this has potential to find an audience.