Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Arthouse Audit: 'Book Thief' Survives Critics, Oscar-Contender 'Wind Rises' Sells Out Two Theaters

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 10, 2013 at 4:33PM

This week's newbies are a mixed bag. "The Book Thief," a rare major studio platform release, overcame less than great reviews for a respectable showing, while Disney's release of Hayao Miyazaki's subtitled animated feature "The Wind Rises" sold out most shows at two one-week-only theaters. The rest of the newcomers fell far short of these two, with Alex Gibney's documentary "The Armstrong Lie" the best of the mediocre bunch.
2
Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse in "The Book Thief"
Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse in "The Book Thief"

This week's newbies are a mixed bag. "The Book Thief," a rare major studio platform release, overcame less than great reviews for a respectable showing, while Disney's release of Hayao Miyazaki's subtitled animated feature "The Wind Rises" sold out most shows at two one-week-only theaters. The rest of the newcomers fell far short of these two, with Alex Gibney's documentary "The Armstrong Lie" the best of the mediocre bunch.

Meanwhile, last week's "Dallas Buyers Club" is showing some real strength in its expansion, as highly-touted awards contenders "Nebraska" and "Philomena" will enter the noisy fray in the next two weeks.

Opening

"The Book Thief" (20th Century-Fox) - Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Mill Valley 2013

$108,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $27,000

Take note: this decent if not spectacular platform gross (backed by significant TV and print ad spends) depended on Fox taking unusual marketing risks and patterns to open the film. Based on a long-term YA bestseller, the project was nurtured by Fox 2000 Productions as a big studio rather than specialized film (like last year's "The Life of Pi") and wasn't finished in time for the usual fall fest launch, playing only Mill Valley. While extensively screened, the film had an unusual review embargo until two days before release. The studio's reticence was warranted - no rave reviews, a complete pan in the New York Times and a lukewarm Los Angeles Times response led to an overall less-than-stellar critical consensus, often harmful for a late-year potential awards contender.  A debuting feature film director, Brian Perceval (Emmy-winner for "Downton Abbey") and a cast of young actors (with support from Oscar regulars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) made the result far from certain.

This is only the second time, unlike Fox Searchlight, that big Fox has gone platform since 2009's "Fantastic Mr. Fox." By the usual platform standards -- upscale interest, strong reviews and awards anticipation -- this wouldn't be a stellar gross. But in context, it is more impressive than the raw figures suggest, indicating that awareness of the book and Fox's advertising managed to pull a decent audience to sample the film. With reports of strongly positive audience response, this still holds potential, backed by continuing Fox support, building on the core interest of the book's readers and word of mouth.

There is one precedent for this sort of child-witness horror story (also based on a novel) overcoming a mixed or worse opening and still finding some interest: "Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close," also hardly a critical favorite, opened up Dec. 23, 2011 in six theaters to a gross of only $72,000, PSA $12,000. The following weekend it managed to climb to $115,000 ($19,000 PSA). And it ended up grossing $31 million (clearly boosted by its Best Picture nomination, as well as a cast that included Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock). That likely is to some degree the model Fox is using in order for this tricky plan to bear fruit.

What comes next: This needs to show stabilization or more quickly, with little room to fall. This will expand similar to what Searchlight and other specialized companies would be doing - 23 new theaters in 7 markets next week, wider still the following Friday and then a substantial expansion on 11/27. This likely gets all the support that Fox can reasonably give it, likely more than what the smaller companies would allocate.

"The Wind Rises" (Buena Vista) - Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Venice 2013, Toronto 2013, New York 2013, AFI 2013

No gross reported in 4 theaters

Often when distributors qualify a film for Oscars, it plays for one week with no numbers reported. Any opening gross is used as a gauge to judge a film's success and later prospects. Thus, the reticence in publishing these numbers makes sense.

This article is related to: The Book Thief, Dallas Buyers Club, The Armstrong Lie, The Wind Rises, Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Arthouse Audit, Thompson on Hollywood


E-Mail Updates








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.