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Arthouse Audit: 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' Best Opening Since 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood August 5, 2012 at 2:23PM

After last weekend's Olympics-be-damned slate of high pedigree new films, the second weekend provided only one with real expectations - Sundance Premiere section acquisition "Celeste and Jesse Forever." And despite overall mixed reviews, it achieved the best opening numbers of any new release since "Beasts of the Southern Wild," showing that there is room for more hits in this already upbeat specialized summer.
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Celeste and Jesse Forever

After last weekend's Olympics-be-damned slate of high pedigree new films, the second weekend provided only one with real expectations - Sundance Premiere section acquisition "Celeste and Jesse Forever." And despite overall mixed reviews, it achieved the best opening numbers of any new release since "Beasts of the Southern Wild," showing that there is room for more hits in this already upbeat specialized summer.

Opening

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Metacritc score: 57; Festivals include: Sundance 2012, Los Angeles 12

$112,011 in 4 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $28,003

With its solid opening weekend, indie rom-com "Celeste and Jesse" scored the best NY/LA grosses of recent indie millennial urban romances ("Lola Versus," "Take This Waltz" and "Ruby Sparks"), despite a range of divergent reviews. This is that rare 2012 indie opening sparked by a youth appeal.

Co-written by lead Rashida Jones (as "Ruby Sparks" was written by its lead actress Zoe Kazan), this LA divorce dramedy was a Sundance acquisition (a reported $2 million price for multiple international territories along with the US). It looks like a smart buy.

What it means:  TV-familiar Jones ("The Office") and co-star Andy Samberg ("SNL") advance their movie careers as the key elements in the film's appeal as it expands.

"360" (Magnolia) - Metacritic score: 42; Festivals include: Toronto 11, London 11; also available on video on demand

$12,600 in 2 theaters; PSA: $6,300

Six years ago, there were few directors hotter than Brazil's Fernando Meirelles after "City of God" and "The Constant Gardner." Since then, "Blindness" and now "360," both multi-storied meditations on contemporary life, have failed to build on his earlier momentum, with this latest getting weak reviews after tepid festival reaction.

"360" premiered at Toronto; it began its video on demand run weeks ago before only now nabbing a theatrical release.

What it means: The VOD availability and these grosses mean only minimal future theatrical exposure ahead.

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.