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'Before Midnight' & 'Fill the Void' Both Score For Sony Classics

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 26, 2013 at 4:04PM

Over the past two years, the Memorial Day weekend has become a significant time to release important new specialized films. Last year, coming off its Cannes debut, "Moonrise Kingdom" opened to a staggering $130,000 four-theater PSA, while a year earlier Cannes-winner "The Tree of Life" did lesser but still stellar business. And in both years, an earlier May opener ("The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Midnight in Paris" respectively) were already in the top 10 in expanded runs.
Greta Gerwig
Greta Gerwig

$612,000 in 60 theaters (+56); PSA: $10,200; Cumulative: $816,000

Very rapid and successful expansion of the Noah Baumback-Greta Gerwig black and white New York-set comedy that justifies IFC's faith in the validity of a significant theatrical run for the film despite their frequent reliance on Video on Demand as a parallel platform (not being done here). $10,000 is a very strong PSA for this number of theaters - it would have been good if it had gone next to only exclusive runs in major cities.

The film's further success will depend on word of mouth, particularly from younger, less-frequent specialized theater attending audiences. But the results so far suggests a real chance at crossover success.

What comes next: This expands to 30 more markets next weekend already, ahead of upcoming competition from "Before Midnight."

"Stories We Tell" (Roadside Attractions) - Week 3

$143,000 in 27 theaters (+4); PSA: $5,517; Cumulative: $373,000

Roadside is rolling out Sarah Polley's acclaimed personal documentary carefully. The grosses so far have been on the high end of average, but more promising is that its PSA, even with a slight increase in theaters, remains steady. This is going to need a lot of word of mouth to keep it in play, but the results so far have been encouraging.

What comes next: Though this won't come close to the success Roadside has had with "Mud," this looks like it could be one of the top grossing docs of the year.

"What Maisie Knew" (Millennium) - Week 4

$154,000 in 27 theaters (+23); PSA: $5,704; Cumulative: $272,000

Performing similarly to "Stories We Tell" if only now moving beyond New York/Los Angeles, this Julianne Moore-starring contemporary child-custody drama is showing signs of life as it widens out. The reviews remain mainly favorable if not sensational, but there is a void at the moment for films with older-audience appeal at many specialized theaters at the moment, and this is doing well enough to take advantage of that for the time being.

What comes next: Millennium has a history of getting out appropriate films to wider breaks without going crazy, so expect this to have significant life ahead.

Among longer running films, none is giving a standout performance up to the level of the promise ahead of some of the above. Millennium got "The Iceman" up to 258 theaters (+93), but its gross fell 15% (to $395,000), suggesting its reached its limits in expansion. SPC's "Love Is All You Need" and Weinstein's "Kon-Tiki" continue their modest runs with a similar theater count (63 and 64), with "Love" having the higher PSA of $3,800. No other reported limited film had a PSA above $2,000.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Before Midnight, Frances Ha, Fill the Void, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

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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.