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Arthouse Audit: New Films Battle Elements and Studio Hits

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 4, 2012 at 4:24PM

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.
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A Late Quartet
'A Late Quartet'

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.

Opening

"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.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.