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Arthouse Audit: All Quiet on the New Opener Front

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood September 30, 2012 at 3:34PM

Following two weeks with outstanding new limited openings of anticipated Toronto premieres, this week offered only one new opening -- Film Arcade's "The Other Dream Team" -- with any traction in the market. At least ten other films opening in significant specialized theaters didn't even report grosses, suggesting very little business.
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'The Other Dream Team'
'The Other Dream Team'

Following two weeks with outstanding new limited openings of anticipated Toronto premieres, this week offered only one new opening -- Film Arcade's "The Other Dream Team" -- with any traction in the market. At least ten other films opening in significant specialized theaters didn't even report grosses, suggesting very little business.

Meanwhile, the wider marketplace has several outstanding films competing for adults ($32 million gross total in the top ten for three acclaimed films with smart-house appeal), plus "Arbitrage," which is still going strong. But the low grosses for most of the new openings were more a factor of their limited draw than their competition. Although several significant films are opening in the next few weeks ("The Paperboy," "The House I Live In," "The Sessions") it seems likely that September's specialized openings could wind up performing better than October's --which is not the usual pattern.

Opening

"The Other Dream Team" (Film Arcade) - Metacritic score: 65; Festivals include: Sundance 12, Seattle 12

$22,714 in 2 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,357

A documentary about a 1990s Lithuanian basketball team might not seem like prime theatrical fare, but this Sundance competition entry opened to a respectable gross at two NY/LA Landmark theaters. The PSA was about $2,000 above "Searching for Sugar Man," another decent doc that gained traction through word of mouth after a modest opening. This is the first release for Film Arcade, a new company founded by production and acquisition veterans.

What it means: Already set in most major cities, this gross should help the film get more attention.

"Vulgaria" (China Lion) - Metacritic score: 52

$36,000 in 16 theaters; PSA: $2,250

Typical gross for the same month release for this new Hong Kong comedy about triads financing an adult movie.

What it means: Won't go much beyond core Chinese community theaters.

Expanding/ongoing

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (Lionsgate) - Week 2

$1.137,300 in 102 theaters (+98); PSA: $11,150; Cumulative: $1,462,000

A successful entry into new markets while expanding in NY/LA after the initial big limited grosses last weekend. Still drawing heavily female, though a little older than initially, it likely competed for the same audience as Universal's debuting "Pitch Perfect" (which opened in over 300 theaters, also with strong female appeal).

What it means: All signs indicate that this Summit Entertainment production should be able to go much deeper in the market to significant success.

"Diane Vreeland - The Eye Has to Travel" (IDP) - Week 2

$95,200 in 14 theaters (+11); PSA: $6,800; Cumulative: $198,000

Adding several cities quickly after its strong NY/LA openings, these grosses are about on par for similar docs about well-known creative personalities.

What it means: This should continue to expand into further markets and reach decent grosses. A similar initial performer, "The Queen of Versailles," has grossed over $2 million, a bit more than this likely will, but still a reasonable benchmark.

"Brooklyn Boys Beat the Best" (Oscilloscope) - Week 2; also available on Video on Demand

$3,954 in 3 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,318; Cumulative: $8,418

Little response theatrically for this musician on the road comedy.

What it means: VOD will be its main venue.

"How to Survive a Plague" (IFC) - Week 2; also available on Video on Demand

$17,600 in 7 theaters (+3); PSA: $2,200 $; Cumulative: $58,000

Adding VOD this week as well as some added theaters, this fell quickly from its OK PSA last weekend.

What it means: Limited future theatrical play.

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.