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Arthouse Audit: Star Power Pushes 'The Place Beyond the Pines' to Triumphant Opening

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 31, 2013 at 4:09PM

"The Place Beyond the Pines" is the second limited opening of the month to open better than expected, and among the strongest ever early-year launches. Focus Features, coming off the disappointment of the wider release of "Admission" last week, maximized its starry cast and strong marketing to make a major initial impact. Two European films with positive festival reaction ("Renoir" and "Blancanieves") opened modestly. More disappointing was the second week of Weinstein's "The Sapphires" which doesn't seem to be headed towards any sort of breakout.
1

'Blancanieves'
'Blancanieves'
"Renoir" (IDP) - Metacritic score: 62; Festivals include: Cannes 2012, Portland 2013

$63,700 in 6 theaters; PSA: $10,617

With its PSA reduced somewhat by its unusual five theater Los Angeles-area release along with its exclusive New York date, this is an encouraging overall gross for a subtitled film without big names or a top director. The two Renoirs in the film - the painter Auguste and his son, director Jean - both bring name recognition and appeal to this pastoral period throwback to previous French successes such as "Jean de Florette" and "My Mother's Castle.") The reviews were at the low end of favorable -- several more highly praised foreign language films have opened less well recently -- but Samuel Goldwyn Films (releasing through IDP) recognized the latent interest when they acquired this. The grosses at New York's Lincoln Plaza Theater and The Landmark in Los Angeles - two of the best theaters for subtitled film in the country - were considerably better than the overall PSA.

What comes next: San Francisco and some New York-area expansion are set for next Friday with further gradual expansion over the next few weeks.

"Blancanieves" (Cohen Media) - Metacritic score: 80; Festivals include: Toronto 2012, San Sebastian 2012

$25,102 in 4 theaters; PSA: $6,276

The second black and white European silent film set in the 1920s in the last two years, this was actually planned long before "The Artist"became a hit. The title means Snow White, and this version has the heroine as a female bullfighter. Opening in New York and Los Angeles with very strong reviews, the grosses are modest at best. This was Spain's submission for last year's foreign language Oscar (despite not having any dialogue) was a big success and Goya award-winner back home, but is a tougher sell here.

What comes next: This looks like a modest performer when it expands to other cities, but positive word of mouth might help sustain it.

Ongoing/expanding

"The Sapphires" (Weinstein) - Week 2

$72,400 in 12 theaters (+8); PSA: $6,033; Cumulative: $127,000

At best a modest expansion for this Australian comedy, to which Weinstein continues to give significant support even if its openings last week were unimpressive. For the limited number of theaters (and their quality), this is not a particularly strong result for a film thought to carry audience appeal.

What comes next: Weinstein likely will roll this out to whatever level it deserves, but this could struggle to get to much beyond $1 million mark.

"From Up on Poppy Hill" (GKids) - Week 3

$121,000 in 24 theaters (+6); PSA: $5,042; Cumulative: $286,000

This Japanese animated film saw its PSA fall almost in half with new theaters added, without a strong boost from the holiday weekend or vacations. This is still performing above the level of past GKids releases of niche foreign animated movies.

What comes next: This doesn't appear to have the breakout/crossover appeal of other releases from Japan's acclaimed Studio Ghibli.

"No" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 7

$246,000 in 70 theaters (+10); PSA: $3,514; Cumulative: $1,325,000

SPC continues to expand this Chilean film to reasonable success, making it look like it will be among the best foreign language releases for the year.

What comes next: Headed towards $2 million or better, a very credible showing for a subtitled film these days.

Other grosses

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, The Place Beyond the Pines, Blancanieves, The Sapphires, Spring Breakers


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.