By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 24, 2013 at 4:18PM
"Starbuck" (eOne) - Cinemascore: 47; Festivals include: Toronto 2011, Palm Springs 2012
$16,400 in 3 theaters; PSA: $5,467
The high concept of this comedy drama (two decades later, a sperm donor learns he is the father of over 500 children) has already made this film a success at home (French Canada, where it grossed over $3 million) and, unusually, is the basis of three planned remakes. Original director Ken Scott is directing Vince Vaughn in the U.S. redo for Dreamworks later this year, and both French and Indian versions are planned.
Alas, the initial theatrical reaction for the original was underwhelming. EOne found strong theaters for this - two of its three were also playing "The Sapphires," but got hit with weak reviews in key situations despite some signs of strong word of mouth from advance screenings. These seem to have taken their toll, with a PSA just a bit better than half of the mixed openings of "The Sapphires."
This release was a long time coming after its Toronto 2011 opening night gala and strong reception at 2012's Palm Springs Festival. But the extra effort (including significant trailer placement over the holidays and since at key theaters) didn't win over most critics.
What comes next: With considerable support from Landmark Theatres, this will expand to major showcases around the country in upcoming weeks, allowing possible good word of mouth to still encourage further viewing.
"My Brother, the Devil" (Paladin) - Metacritic score: 73; Festivals include: Sundance 2012, Berlin 2012
$12,100 in 2 theaters; PSA: $6,050
This story of two London brothers of Arab descent caught between the appeal of criminal gangs and a more conventional life, this film (in a setting reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis' 80s breakout film "My Beautiful Laundrette") was a prize-winner at Sundance last year and went on to considerable attention in the U.K. on its release. The New York opening, which included overall positive reviews, while not stellar, did get enough sampling to suggest there could be some further theatrical interest.
Paladin is an enterprising smaller distributor which released Michel Gondry's "The We and the I" two weeks ago to some interest as well as the New Zealand film "Boy" last year (after its major success internationally). Although they haven't had any breakout hits, releasing films like this places them in a position to attract important core art house attention.
What comes next: This is set to open in other major markets in April, starting with Los Angeles.
"From Up On Poppy Hill" (GKids) - Week 2
$60,300 in 6 theaters (+4); PSA: $10,050; Cumulative: $132,500
A strong expansion for this Japanese animated film that could be an early contender for the next Oscar Animated Feature contest. This is grossing far above previous high-quality GKids foreign animation releases. Saturday's numbers showed a big jump from Friday, suggesting despite its art-house presence it also is drawing families.
What comes next: These figures should justify an expansion much wider than usual for GKids.
"Ginger and Rosa" (A24) - Week 2
$102,000 in 34 theaters (+31); PSA: $3,000; Cumulative: $162,000
After a decent limited opening last week, A24 pushed this much wider--perhaps too quickly--with lackluster results with expansions in initial markets and openings in new cities.
What comes next: It will be difficult to sustain a lengthy run with these grosses. A24 also has "Spring Breakers" following a different, less art-house oriented release to real success. The road chosen for this Elle Fanning-starring English drama hasn't done as well.
"Reality" (Oscilloscope) - Week 2
$8,000 in 2 theaters (+1); PSA: $4,000; Cumulative: $18,000
Los Angeles joined New York this week for this acclaimed Italian drama, opening at the usually reliable West Side Royal Theater, but sadly its upbeat LA Times review was buried at the end of their capsule reviews, rather according the Cannes entry the more significant attention it deserved. Still, after its disappointing initial New York grosses, it seems that there is little audience for this film about obsession with reality TV shows.
What comes next: Oscilloscope has a good track record of maximizing difficult films, so this should get more play. But at this point it doesn't look like a strong performer.
"Stoker" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 4
$356,000 in 275 theaters (+181); PSA: $1,295; Cumulative: $1,127,000
A major expansion for cult favorite Park Chan-wook's first English language film shows similar mediocre results as its initial dates.
What comes next: This looks like it has reached its peak already, marking a real disappointment.
"No" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 6
$208,000 in 60 theaters (+12); PSA: $3,467; Cumulative: $1,000,000
The PSA was only down slightly for this Chilean political drama from last week. The film is performing somewhat better than "Rust and Bone" at a similar stage, suggesting that this should easily double its gross or more.
What comes next: Further expansion, including possibly some crossover attention in Spanish-language markets, seems justified.