But mixed reviews -- 57 score on Metacritic --hurt the film. Lebanese director Nadine Labaki is not well-known (this is her second film), but the openings are below what her first film "Caramel" achieved when released by Roadside Attractions in 2008 on its way to just over $1 million.

Another film with strong theater presence in NY/LA did even less. Magnolia's IFC's "I Wish" is struggling to reach $10,000 in five houses. Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda's two previous releases "Nobody Knows" and "Still Walking," though still modest grossers at best, opened a bit better with stronger reviews. Still, with a Metacritic score at a solid 79, these grosses are disappointing.

Several films, as is the rule these days, opened along side VOD (video on demand) availablity. Magnolia's "God Bless America" from director Bobcat Goldthwaite (a Midnight presentation at Toronto) actually has been available at home for a month. Thirteen theaters in 12 markets are going to struggle to gross around $2500 on average. "The Road" from the Philippines, a ghost story/mystery from Freestyle, was even wider (50 theaters), with a PSA not that much over $1000 looking likely.

Early indications are that most of the other new releases - which included "Hick" (Phase IV), "Sleepless Night" (Tribeca) - both Toronto 11 premieres, "The Cup" (Myriad), "The Nesting" (PMK-BMC), "Nobody Else But You" (First Run) -- gained little if any traction. No reports yet for "Bonsai" (Strand) from Chile, with Cannes, Telluride and Toronto showings behind it, "Tonight I'm Yours" (Roadside Attractions") or the Joe Berlinger/Paul Simon "Under African Skies" (A&E Indie), which premiered last January at Sundance.

More interesting should be the expansion for Millenium's surprise hit "Bernie." It and "Best Exotic Marigold"--which boast strong ensemble casts-- are the two standouts in what has quickly turned into a disappointing season after a better than expected post-awards spring.

A family emergency necessitates a truncated report, so stay tuned for more detailed updates.