By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 16, 2014 at 4:28PM
"Enemy" (A24) - Criticwire: B; Cinemascore: 62; Festivals include: Toronto 2013; also available on DirecTV
$18,000 on 1 screen; PSA: $18,000
Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal made two films together that were shown at last year's Toronto -- Warners' "Prisoners," which went on to modest wide success right away, and this independently made film shot just after their bigger-budget effort. "Enemy," a much more intimate doppelganger thriller set in Toronto (a nerdy college professor encounters his more glamorous actor double) opened at New York's prime Angelika Theater to a decent result. But what is most significant here is the release strategy -- A24 is in partnership with satellite home viewing provider DirecTV, which is also showing the film at the same time. This differs from other Video on Demand releases in that it's exclusive to one carrier (making it less competitive than usual VOD releases). But it still limits the exhibitors willing to show the film (excluding all major chains). (Note: This is a U.S.-only gross. The film also opened with a broader theatrical release in Canada with a different distributor, which has not yet been reported).
What comes next: 25 markets open next Friday.
"On My Way" (Cohen) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Berlin 2013, London 2013, Rendezvous With French Cinema 2014
$11,065 in 1; PSA: $11,065
Cohen Media has specialized in mainly subtitled European films, with an emphasis on France, so it's not surprising for them to release a film with the reigning queen of Gallic actresses Catherine Deneuve. Opening at the prime Lincoln Plaza theater in New York to mixed reviews, it scored an adequate if unsensational gross. This story of an older woman thrust into an unlikely road trip with her grandson is the sort that could find arthouse appeal, particularly with Denueve's name attached. The biggest success with Deneuve of any distributor in recent years was Music Box' "Potiche," grossing $1.6 million, quite good these days for French language films). That film debuted much wider - 7 theaters - for a PSA of over $12,000. That film had the benefit of a familiar director (Francois Ozon) to enhance its start.
What comes next: The slow roll-out continues with a Landmark Los Angeles opening next Friday.
"Big Men" (Abramorama) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 90; Festivals include: Tribeca 2013, Locarno 2013
$9,050 in 1 theater; PSA; $9,050
Following their co-distributed "Particle Fever" last weekend, Abramorama has its second straight non-celebrity/serious theme documentary release showing some signs of audience interest. Opening in only 114 seats at New York's IFC Center, "Big Men" is Rachel Boynton's ("Our Brand Is Crisis") multi-year study on the discovery and development of oil rights in West Africa. Like the more impressively-initial grossing "Fever," this benefited from strong reviews to find an initial audience. For the subject matter and low-end expense (more social network driven) marketing, this is about as strong a gross as could have been expected considering the seating limitations. (Among its behind-the-scenes backers has been Brad Pitt, who came on board as Executive Producer).
What comes next: This will slowly move into other big cities, with this initial gross likely expanding the market to a wider audience than initially assumed.
"Teenage" (Oscilloscope) - Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Hot Docs 2013, Tribeca 2013
$8,000 in 1 theater; PSA: $8,000
This doc covers the history of the concept of "teenage-hood" (a 20th century invention) relying on archive-footage and some earlier published research to cover the implications of considering this life stage as a separate identity (and mostly Western in nature). Opening at New York's Sunshine Theater, it managed a modest gross despite OK but not great reviews.
What comes next: It opens in Los Angeles next Friday.
Radius/Weinstein's heist film "The Art of the Steal" starring Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon (also on VOD) managed $38,500 in 60 theaters (PSA: $642). Variance's "The Retrieval," a Civil War-era story involving an ex-slave, opened at a single Atlanta theater, grossing $6,400, in advance of further bookings (including New York's Film Forum in April).
The standout among second week films in limited release is "Particle Fever" (Abramorama/Bond 360), which built on its strong initial results to gross $89,600 in 14 (+10) for a good PSA of $6,400, already up to $179,000. IFC's "The Face of Love" (also on VOD) did $56,700 in 21 (+18). The Israeli "Bethlehem" (Adopt) held in OK at from a lesser start, taking in $52,000 in 29 (+3), down 25% from last weekend.
Showing steadiness in its third week, Sony Pictures Classics' "The Lunch Box" grossed $97,400 in 18 (+5), now up to $315,000. SPC also has "Tim's Vermeer" in its 7th weekend added $218,000 in 109 (+44) to pass the $1 million mark,
The rest of the entries are late runs of Oscar contenders. Janus' Italian "The Great Beauty" is now losing theaters and total gross, but still did $93,000 to reach $2.6 million, clearly aided by its Foreign Language victory. "The Wind Rises" (Buena Vista( added $412,000 in 305 (-191), now at $4.1 million. The rest of the end-on-run initially limited nominees and winners (most now out on DVD and/or VOD or soon to come) all grossed $400,000 or less, other than big winner "12 Years a Slave" with did an additional $1,180,000 to go along with its home availability.