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Arthouse Audit: 'Emperor,' 'The We and the I,' 'Beyond the Hills' Rely on Good Word To Grow Audiences

Thompson on Hollywood By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 10, 2013 at 4:24PM

Specialized distributors continue to try to break beyond the usual review-driven New York/Los Angeles limited openings to find less conventional ways to release films. Among this week’s openings, Mumblecore indie “Somebody Out There Likes Me," starring Second City's own Nick Offerman, premiered to significant success exclusively in Chicago in advance of its VOD debut as well as upcoming theater dates elsewhere. Peter Webber's poorly reviewed World War II drama “Emperor” played mostly mainstream theaters in multiple cities. And Michel Gondry's “The We and the I” had a better than expected New York single-theater release that holds promise for more attention.
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The We and the I

“The We and the I” (Paladin) – Metacritic score: 60; Festivals include: Cannes 12, Toronto 12

$12,000 in one theater; PSA: $12,000

Michel Gondry’s latest off-beat film got a major boost from a strong lead review in the New York Times on Friday, and jumped to a decent opening including sold-out shows at the IFC Center.  Following of group of Bronx high school students on an afterschool bus ride, it continues his interest in urban themes and rhythms that he previously presented in “Dave Chappelles’ Black Party” as well as being reminiscent of elements of his biggest success, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

This is another film that ended up with an enthusiastic smaller distributor after its initial high profile premiere, aimed at a younger, not necessarily conventional art-house audience. This opening will give it a chance to attract more attention and some degree of success in theaters and beyond.

What comes next: Los Angeles and San Francisco open on March 22, with further exposure now guaranteed.

“The Silence” (Music Box) – Metacritic score: 72; Festivals include: Munich 2010, Locarno 2010, Palm Springs 11

$9,170 in two theaters; PSA:  $4,585

A German police procedural about an unsolved murder case from the 1986 which bears a strong similarity to one more than 20 years later opened in New York and Los Angeles to modest results.

What comes next: The grosses would suggest limited ongoing theatrical interest, though Music Box usually gets its releases played in most major cities.

Expanding/ongoing

“Stoker” (Fox Searchlight) – Week 2

$115,000 in 17 theaters (+10); PSA: $6,765; Cumulative: $330,000

This is a modest expansion at less than sensational levels for Park Chan-wook’s thriller with Nicole Kidman in advance of its wider break next week. Searchlight reports initial theaters held decently compared to their opening weekend, suggesting some hope for the film’s future.

What comes next: 20 new markets open next week, getting this up to around 80 theaters though  at this point though it appears to be a less likely candidate for the multi-hundred theater release that Searchlight usually aims for.

“Hava Nagila – The Movie” (International Film Circuit) – Week 2

$39,400 in 12 theaters (+11); PSA: $3,283; Cumulative: $90,800

Building on its decent New York opening last weekend, this documentary about the iconic Jewish song expanded both there and in the South Florida market to a reasonable level.

What comes next: This looks like it will have appeal in multiple markets and could grow to a considerably higher gross.

“No” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 4

$167,000 in 35 theaters (+24); PSA: $4,771; Cumulative: $511,000

Performing better than most recent subtitled films, more so without major award tie-ins, this Chilean political drama expanded decently this weekend at a level similar to what SPC’s “Rust and Bone” did over Christmas. Like that film, which starred Marion Cotillard, this is helped by its lead Gabriel Garcia Bernal. But it also continues to get strong reviews with its new cities, and likely is also being aided by being the first Spanish-language specialized film to breakout for some time.

What comes next: This will continue to expand, with a $2 million + gross seeming doable.

“The Gatekeepers” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 6

$250,000 in 67 theaters (+21); PSA: $3,731; Cumulative: $1,027,000

Continuing to perform at a steady level, this Israeli documentary has crossed the $1 million mark two weeks earlier than “Searching for Sugar Man,” helped by playing at twice as many theaters at this point. It continues to play on interest on contemporary Israel issues, which will likely sustain the interest in the film for several more weeks.

What comes next:  “Sugar Man” expanded to over 150 theaters (in its 12th week), beyond the appeal this likely will have, but this still looks like one of the better grossing documentaries of 2013, with $2 million or better possible.

Other grosses ( + totals)

“Quartet” (Weinstein) Week 9 - $1,279,000/$13,270,000

“Amour” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12 - $196,000/$6,245,000

“The Impossible” (Lionsgate) Week 12 - $90,000/$18,478,000

“Lore” (Music Box) - $67,000/$256,000

“Like Someone In Love” (IFC) - $16,800/$118,000

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Emperor, The We and the I, Beyond The Hills


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