The race to open films shown at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals began with two significant platform releases. This sets the pattern from now until the end of the year. Leading the way was Fox Searchlight's "Enough Said," with a surprisingly stellar gross, driven by rave reviews and curiosity about the late James Gandolfini's second to last film. It outpaced the other new limited opening, Universal's action biopic "Rush," which with top-end urban moviegoer appeal grabbed a decent sampling to go with its strong festival reaction and decent reviews.
Both films are expanding rapidly against other new openings and recent expansions: Ron Howard's "Rush" will go into wide release next Friday.
"Enough Said" (Fox Searchlight) - Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Toronto 2013
$240,000 in 4 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $60,000
Though not unheralded, this new comedy from Nicole Holofcener ("Please Give," "Friends With Money") was not expected to open among the top platform grosses for the year, nor to be so clear a winner over "Rush." It turns out to be Fox Searchlight's top limited opener since "The Tree of Life" (the company often opens its top films like "Black Swan" and "The Descendants" in more than two cities). This ranks as the fourth best limited opening of the year (after "Blue Jasmine" "Spring Breakers" and "The Place Beyond the Pines").
Searchlight opened this on Wednesday to get a two day pre-weekend jump for word of mouth. The tragic death of costar James Gandolfini cast a possible pall on this romantic comedy costarring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as another divorcee with a daughter about to leave for college. Clearly the word of mouth was strong, with the weekend results a significant jump from the initial two-day performance. (The full five-day estimate is $294,000.)
Both actors are best known in television; Gandolfini had notched more movies than Louis-Dreyfus. This marks her first live-action feature since "Deconstructing Harry" and "Father's Day." Gandolfini plunged back into movies post-"Sopranos" with a combination of supporting and lead roles ("In the Loop," "KIlling Them Softly," "Zero Dark Thirty"). "Enough Said" serves as a fitting tribute. (Searchlight was betting on him - he also costars in their "Animal Rescue," out next year.)
Holofcener's biggest grossing film so far was "Friends With Money" (2006), which Sony Pictures Classics pushed to over $13 million. Searchlight, after a disappointing period after "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild," rebounded with "The Way, Way Back" (which is about to overtake "Mud" as the year's second highest grossing specialized release). And their strong awards contender "12 Years a Slave" is yet to come.
What comes next: Moving into a very competitive market, this will open in 65 new cities this Friday at somewhere around 200 theaters before heading towards what is likely to be a much wider release.
"Rush" (Universal) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Toronto 2013
$200,000 in 5 theaters; PSA: $40,000