Two women-directed films with solid reviews - "Your Sister's Sister" and "Marina Abramovic - The Artist Is Present" - stood out among the openings, with promising debuts. But the news continues to be ongoing interest in a range of expanding and ongoing releases, giving the specialized market a wider than usual presence for this time of year. "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Intouchables" in particular showed solid holdover/new run totals, while the Sundance hit "Safety Not Guaranteed" also built on its opening weekend success.
"Your Sister's Sister" (IFC) - Metacritic score: 71; Festivals include: Toronto 11, Sundance 12, San Francisco 12, Seattle 12
$117,000 in 13 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $9,000
Lynn Shelton's complicated relationship comedy-drama, with a strong cast nabbing particularly strong reviews, opened with OK grosses, with the PSA lessened by the number of cities/theaters included. This falls short of what "Safety Not Guaranteed" got last weekend, which in turn had its PSA depressed by non-NY/LA numbers. Per IFC, the four NY/LA grosses will average around $15,000, which is enough to develop the decent WOM (word of mouth) that could help the film sustain a solid run.
What it means: As it expands quickly to 30 more cities next week, this is clearly far ahead of last week's same-demographic appeal flop "Lola Versus" (see below), and has a chance to score with its target audience.
"Marina Abramovic - The Artist Is Present" (Music Box) - Metacritic score: 74; Festivals include: Sundance 12, Berlin 12, San Francisco 12
$10,989 in 2 theaters; PSA: $5,495
Led by NY's prime Film Forum (which grossed an additional $5500 before Friday with a midweek opening), this doc - yet another focused on a creative personality - also opened in LA for an overall OK start.
What it means: This HBO film was released with a more elevated presence than they often gave its Oscar hopefuls because of the new rules requiring prime reviews in NY/LA. This will find most of its audience on the cable network when it shows later this year, with the solid reviews helping its chances.
"The Woman in the Fifth" (ATO/IDP) - Metacritic score: 54; Festivals include: Toronto 11, Austin 11, Palm Springs 12, San Francisco 12; also available on VOD (video on demand)
$37,000 in 8 theaters; PSA: $4,100
Another multi-city opener (although not LA yet), highlighted by the prime Lincoln Plaza in NY, this Ethan Hawke/Kristin-Scott Thomas-starring French murder mystery scored a modest PSA with consensus mixed reviews not an asset.
What it means: This could get major art-house playoff over the next few weeks, but it doesn't appear to have the appeal to go much beyond, particularly with its parallel VOD showings.
"Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" (Indomina) - Metacritic score: 63; Festivals include: Sundance 12
$150,000 in 157 theaters; PSA: $955
Ice-T directed this Sundance-premiered documentary, which Indomina positioned well in appropriate urban theaters across the country. The result is disappointing, with a weak PSA overall showing less interest, at least theatrically, than hoped for.
What it means: Irrespective of these grosses, a film like this should see long-term playoff on non-theaterical platforms, with the marketing for this release just adding to the awareness.
"Safety Not Guaranteed" (FilmDistrict) - Week 2
$295,000 in 47 theaters (+38); PSA: $6,277; Cumulative: $439,000
A quick expansion, aided by mostly good reviews, resulted in decent grosses for this Sundance romantic comedy. "Quirky" can be a tough sell, but so far FilmDistrict seems to be finding an audience, with WOM giving it more momentum going forward. Unlike its initial opening, this week was aided by playing at more typical arthouse locations (including several prime Landmark theaters), which helped the PSA fall less than usual for similar expansions.
What it means: This has grossed decently at both specialized and more general-audience theaters, indicating that with careful handling this will continue to perform well as it adds more theaters and cities.