By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood September 29, 2013 at 4:30PM
The weekend's big news: two films played well in multi-hundred theaters early in their release. Fox Searchlight's "Enough Said" nearly placed in the top 10 (#11) in only 227 runs in a quick second week expansion, while revitalized Picturehouse's 3-D "Metallica Through the Never" scored nearly $1.7 million at 305 IMAX locations, although expectations were for a higher opening. The push towards wider and quicker specialized presentations continues unabated. Their success again reveals why slow release patterns will continue to be less the norm.
Meanwhile three Sundance films, docs "Inequality for All" (Radius/Weinstein) and "Muscles Shoals" (Magnolia) and horror remake "We Are What We Are" (EOne) performed credibly this weekend.
"Metallica Through the Never" (Picturehouse) - Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Toronto 2013
$1,672,000 in 305 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $5,482
After a five-year Picturehouse hiatus, as company founder Bob Berney tried his hand with some success at FilmDistrict with "Drive" among others, Picturehouse returned with a splash. (Berney's previous successes include "Pan's Labyrinth," "Prairie Home Companion" and "La Vie en Rose.") The distrib was relaunched with the high-level IMAX 3-D release of heavy metal concert/narrative "Metallica Through the Never," which opened on only 305 screens and has already topped the total gross of "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," a more doc-like study of the group and its issues, which amassed $1.2 million for IFC in 2004.
Directed by Hungarian-rooted director Nimrod Antal (indie "Kontroll" and remake "Predators," which grossed $52 million for Fox a few years ago) this soared to 8th place for its opening day off a core group of fans lining up to be first-nighters. The rest of the weekend tailed off, but nonetheless the film wound up in 13th place overall.
What comes next: Picturehouse expands to over 600 theaters this Friday (though "Gravity" will take over most IMAX screens). Meantime, this gets the distributor back in the game, with a handful of upcoming releases already announced.
"Inequality for All" (Radius/Weinstein) - Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include Sundance 2013, San Francisco 2013, Seattle 2013, Los Angeles 2013
$140,000 in 28 theaters; PSA: $5,000
A special jury prize-winner at Sundance, this documentary was handled a bit differently by Weinstein-boutique distrib Radius, opening in multiple cities rather than exclusive, and also solely in theaters initially. Though a much different film, similar to its earlier Oscar doc hopeful "20 Feet from Stardom," this is not initially a video on demand release, unlike most Radius films.
Most issue-oriented docs in recent years have struggled to achieve the success that "20 Feet" and last year's "Searching for Sugar Man" achieved by reaching for emotional involvement from moviegoers. "Inequality" centers on economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's examination of the factors causing a greater economic gap between the wealthiest few and most people in modern society. However vital that topic might be, it normally wouldn't be a likely draw in theaters. These figures aren't great, but they are more than respectable.
This is a change of pace for director Jacob Kornbluth, previously known for his dramatic features "Haiku Tunnel" and "The Best Thief in the World."
What comes next: Likely further expansion, as well as positioning along with "20 Feet" for awards ahead.