By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 25, 2012 at 4:27PM
$33,900 in 3 theaters; PSA: $11,300
Positioned for maximum attention for upcoming awards, this Ken Burns co-directed documentary (he has never won an Oscar) opened in NY to decent results (including one theater in Harlem). Retelling the difficult story of a woman's brutal rape in Central Park in 1989, and the arrest and conviction of several teens and the attempts to clear them, its initial success comes from a film dissimilar in appeal to most of the big docs this year. Those mostly have focused on larger than life personalities and often had a lighter feel to them. But it is also the first of two prime contenders that deal with serious and difficult issues - SPC has "West of Memphis" opening soon, which has an updated comprehensive retelling of the crime previously portrayed in the "Paradise Lost" series.
This opening got the expected decent reviews and editorial attention needed to set it apart from other docs, and of course Burns' involvement (this comes the same week as "Dust Bowl" premiered on PBS) makes it stand out more. But it remains a tricky sell, and these grosses were by no means guaranteed, even less so in this incredibly competitive market.
What comes next: Apart from limited upcoming theatrical dates, this will be mainly seen on VIdeo on Demand, where is premieres in early December.
"Anna Karenina" (Focus) - Week 2
$832,000 in 66 theaters (+50); PSA: $12,606; Cumulative: $1,465,000
A decent expansion, good enough for 12th place overall, for this Joe Wright/Keira Knightley collaboration, though not nearly up to the standards of some other recent Focus releases. Those had the good fortune to not open in such a congested period. "Moonrise Kingdom" also went to 16 screens its second weekend PSA of $55,000; "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" did $28,000, also in 16.
Apart from the brutal playing field, less great reviews also are making this a less-immediate must-see film (Metacritic stands at 64, the low end of good). But like several other films, the future for this is promising both because these are still OK numbers for this number of theaters, but because the next couple of months hold promise for potential audiences to catch up with it.
What comes next: Knightley remains a contender for best actress attention, which would be a major boost. Focus in the meantime has two more awards contenders - "Hyde Park on the Hudson" and "Promised Land" - yet to come, so unlike most years, they have several late season releases.
"The Comedy" (Tribeca) - Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$8,100 in 3 theaters (+2); PSA: $2,700; Cumulative: $29,300
Comedian Tim Heidecker's lead movie turn added a bit this week to minor response.
What comes next: Not remotely comparing to the earlier success that Mike Birbiglia had earlier this year with "Sleepwalk With Me," with VOD being the main venue here.
"A Late Quartet" (EOne) - Week 4
$128,000 in 88 theaters (-12); PSA: $1,455; Cumulative: $729,000
Modest results for this ensemble drama with Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman over the holidays weekend.
What comes next: This should pass the $1 million mark easily, but likely not much wider potential.
"The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 6
$700,000 in 515 theaters (-1); PSA: $1,359; Cumulative: $3,905,000
Searchlight did a terrific job keeping their theater count near even this weekend, and the result was a not bad decline of only 23%. This is critical, since it is vital to this film's chances of hitting its potential for it to stay on as many screens as possible as expected nominations and awards for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt start up over the next few weeks. This in turn will increase the likelihood of being around going into January - not just for the grosses this will bring in, but also for helping keep it as a current release finding audience support to counteract competitors that are being seen by far more viewers.
What comes next: Though there will be attrition, this should be able to keep going in most key markets for the hoped-for boost ahead.
Other grosses (weekend/cumulative)
"Perks of Being a Wallflower" (Summit) - $386,000/$16,318,000
"The Other Son" (Cohen) - $77,700/$795,000
"Searching for Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics) - $74,600/$2,780,000
"Holy Motors" (Indomina) - $45,300/$268,000
"Samsara" (Oscilloscope) - $22,00/$2,489,000
"Brooklyn Castle" (PDA) - $15,400/$162,000