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Arthouse Audit: 'Silver Linings' and 'Anna Karenina' Start Steady, Not Stellar

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 18, 2012 at 4:16PM

Two anticipated openings dominated art houses this week, as both “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Anna Karenina” launched in multiple cities as part of a strategy to push audience response in advance of wider playoffs. Both faced – as do all limited releases at the moment – massive competition from wider release studio films that are drawing the same target adult audience. Both showed strength despite all the alternative films in play.
A Late Quartet
'A Late Quartet'

What comes next: Focus opens a few more markets this week, then expands November 30. And with both Knightley and possibly several craft categories as potential Oscar nominees, this should remain in view for some time going forward at a minimum.

“Price Check” (IFC) – Metacritic score: 65; Festivals include: Sundance 2012, Provincetown 2012; also available on Video on Demand
$2,300 in 1 theaters; PSA: $2,300

Parker Posey stars in this comedy-drama as a supermarket chain executive training a male employee for a new position. It premiered at Sundance, and is now getting minimal theatrical release after weeks on VOD.

What comes next: LA opens this week, but theatrical exposure will be limited.


“Chasing Ice” (Submarine Deluxe) – Week 2
$83,000 in 10 theaters (+9); PSA: $8,300; Cumulative: $107,000

Successfully jumping from its strong NY opening last week to other cities, this Sundance-premiere climate change doc with a twist (a visual study of the beauty of the Arctic ice as it collapses) showed real strength.

What comes next: These grosses are strong enough for Submarine Deluxe to find its footing despite the current tough market.

“The Comedy” (Tribeca) – Week 2; also available on Video on Demand
$13,200 in 1 theater (unchanged); PSA: $13,200; Cumulative: $21,200

Comedian Tim Heidecker, joined by the film’s director, appeared at Brooklyn’s BAM Cinemas over the weekend to boost this film to a decent gross (and at the high end for a NY non-Manhattan exclusive). Though on a much smaller scale than Mike Birbiglia’s hit “Sleepwalk With Me,” this is another example of grassroots, appearance-backed promotions that are becoming more common. (This was done last week in LA).

What comes next: Other big cities are slated to open over the next few weeks, but VOD seems like the major venue.

“28 Hotel Rooms” (Oscilloscope) – Week 2; also available on Video on Demand
$4,000 in 3 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,333; Cumulative: $6,400

This Sundance-premiering drama about a recurrent series of one night stands in various cities starring Chris Messina and Marin Ireland opened in NY this week after its LA debut previously.

What comes next: Once again, VOD is its main home.

“A Late Quartet” (EOne) – Week 3
$160,000 in 100 theaters (+38); PSA:  $1,600; Cumulative: $533,000

Doggedly hanging in there despite the heavy competition, this Christopher Walken/Philip Seymour Hoffman drama continues to do average but credible business as it expands again.

What comes next: The going won’t get any easier, but EOne is getting this played off and adding gross despite this.

“This Must Be the Place” (Weinstein) – Week 3
$23,900 in 15 theaters (+4); PSA: 1,593; Cumulative: $83,500

Not improving on its low-level performance this week, despite having Sean Penn and Frances MacDormand in the leads.

What comes next: Tough to see this expanding much with all the other alternatives for theaters at the moment.

“The Other Son” (Cohen) – Week 4
$84,700 in 52 theaters (-1); PSA: $1,629; Cumulative: $670,000

Down from its higher level last week, this Israeli drama still is adding gross as Cohen looks like they will pass $1 million for another subtitled film in a very tough market.

What comes next: Likely keeping near this amount of theaters for the upcoming weeks will help, with Israeli films often playing in theaters that search out them later in their runs.

“The Sessions” (Fox Searchlight) – Week 5
$900,000 in 516 theaters (+388); PSA: $1,744; Cumulative: $2,803,000

This is a prime example of a specialized film with loads of potential (building from festival exposure, solid reviews and awards expectations) getting whipsawed by the amount of alternatives for its core audience. The gross total as of now is respectable enough, and this has quite some way to go. But this coud be faring much better if adults didn’t have so many alternatives, particularly among the wide releases.

This now has gone far wider than Fox Searchlight took “Beast of the Southern Wide” earlier this year, which, though with potentially a harder path to reach audiences, gained from having little competition.  In its fourth weekend, having reached only the 129 theater level, this had grossed just about the same total. It is hard to imagine that had the release dates been switched that it would have fared nearly so well.

What comes next: With many regarding actors John Hawkes and Helen Hunt as being not only likely nominees but also possible winners, it is vital that Searchlight keep this going at least in the major cities through the holidays and beyond.

Other grosses

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Lionsgate) - $635,000 in 511 theaters; Cumulative: $15,622,000
“Searching for Sugar Man” (Sony Pictures Classics) - $65,400 in 54 theaters; Cumulative: $2,680,000
“Arbitrage” (Roadside Attractions) - $52,600 in 81 theaters; Cumulative: $7,760,000
“The Master” (Weinstein) - $51,000 in 52 theaters; Cumulative: $15,790,000
“Holy Motors” (Indomina) - $48,600 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $193,000
“The Flat” (IFC) - $37,500 in 27 theaters; Cumulative:  $310,000

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents, Anna Karenina, Silver Linings Playbook, The Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein

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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.