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Arthouse Audit: 'Blue Jasmine' Exceeds 'Midnight in Paris' Debut in Top Specialized Opening of 2013, Best Ever in Summer

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood July 28, 2013 at 1:12PM

Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" continues the auteur's recent rebound to levels similar to his heyday in the 1970s and 80s. His fifth consecutive release from Sony Pictures Classics scored his career-best best opening result (beating "Midnight in Paris") with a six-theater, three-day total of over $600,000. This number is a record for the June-August period for any live-action limited release.
"The Act of Killing"
"The Act of Killing"

CBS Films' "The To-Do List" had a non-specialized oriented 591 theater releasing, aiming at more studio-release centered theaters nationwide for this teenage girl coming of age rom com, grossing $1,535,000 for a adequate debut, with hopes for further widening with targeted word of mouth. On a much smaller scale, "Tiny Times," (China Lion) a massive recent success in its native China, had a much more modest result with $12,500 in three theaters in heavily Chinese-American markets. Variance/Well Go's "Drug War" from legendary Hong Kong director Johnnie To, which earned some of the best reviews of the year (87 at Metacritic) did $7,000 at New York's IFC Center.

Three significant festival players (all three at last year's Toronto) also have not yet reported -- "Casting By" (soon to be on HBO), "Wasteland" (Oscilloscope) and "Time Being" (Tribeca), the last one of four new direct to video on demand releases this week that also got limited theatrical play.


Two recent limited successes went much wider this weekend to promising results -- Weinstein's "Fruitvale Station" ended up #10 with over $4.6 million in 1,064 theaters, already in its third weekend up to $6.3 million with potentially much more ahead, depending on continued strong word of mouth and the company's normal inclination to put pedal to the metal in terms of expanding. 

Fox Searchlight's "The Way, Way Back," which had already shown some real crossover interest in its third week, moved up to 886 theaters for $3.3 million. Its PSA was a bit below that of "Fruitvale," but with many of its best theaters already having played one or more weeks, the result is close to being as impressive, and its total gross of $9 million so far suggesting both films will pass $20 million going forward.

Among last weekend's more limited openings, two acclaimed documentaries had decent expansions. Magnolia's "Blackfish" was the wider of the two, expanding to 19 theaters (+14) for $160,000 (PSA $8,421), quite decent for this number of theaters. Drafthouse's "The Act of Killing" expanded in the U.S. (Canada is also playing under a different distributor) to three theaters (+2) for a solid $38,700 (PSA $12,900). Both films with their initial audience response on top of strong reviews seem well-positioned for later documentary awards consideration.

Radius/Weinstein's  "Only God Forgives" took a big tumble, not unusual for films also available VOD, with $118,000 in 81 theaters (+3), with a total so far of $577,000 to be added to his likely much higher likely take for its home-viewing sales. Roadside Attraction's "The Girl Most Likely," which opened in 351 theaters last week, lost more than a third of them already to add only $192,000 this weekend, making its total so far of $1,218,000 close to what its final result will be.

More standout among the longer playing films is Radius/Weinstein's non-VOD "20 Feet from Stardom," continuing to hold steady on 147 theaters (+12) with the gross only falling slightly, with this weekend's $368,000 making the new total $3 million, guaranteeing that before long it will pass the total of last year's doc sensation "Searching for Sugar Man."

Other specialized entries with grosses over $100,000 for the weekend include two longer running ones from Sony Pictures Classics - Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited" ($146,000 in 76 theaters, + 26, total $903,000) and the tenth weekend for "Before Midnight," down to 78 theaters with another $115,000 added to get it to $7.6 million. Weinstein's "Unfinished Song" in weekend six did $106,000 to reach $1,259,000. Cohen Media's "The Attack" made $101,000 in its sixth stanza to reach $1,065,000.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, The Act of Killing , Independents, The Way, Way Back

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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.