Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Relativity Faces Bankruptcy, Spelling More Disaster for 'Jane Got a Gun' Relativity Faces Bankruptcy, Spelling More Disaster for 'Jane Got a Gun' '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 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) 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 Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) 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: 'Enough Said' Scores Big for Searchlight, 'Rush' Decent for Universal

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood September 22, 2013 at 11:50PM

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.
1
'Rush'
Imagine/Universal 'Rush'

The top studios tend to shy away from platform releases except for a rare few, mainly in December ("Zero Dark Thirty," "Young Adult," "Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close"). So this September one-week jump before the 2,000+ theater wide release for Ron Howard's Formula One racing circuit biofilm was a risky move for Universal. The opening gross -- a decent if not spectacular $40,000 PSA for its five New York/Los Angeles theaters -- fell short of what resulted from two of the director's earlier similarly released films, "Frost/Nixon" and "A Beautiful Mind," both of which ended up with significant awards attention. (His "The Paper" in 1994 also went this route).

Before its long-lead reviews and Toronto premiere, this didn't sound on paper like a prime adult audience film or top Oscar contender, even with the added pedigree of screenwriter Peter Morgan ("The Queen," "The Last King of Scotland," and "Frost/Nixon.") So getting the jump on the main commercial release to elevate the mostly favorable reviews (particularly strong in the all-important newspapers, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times) and push to get upscale audience attention made practical sense, even if the gross didn't rise to the higher level that some of its predecessors (and significantly less than "Enough Said" this weekend). Though they have been acclaimed for their performances, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are not major specialized draws, and its subject matter likely has more mass-audience than art-house adjacent appeal.

Independently financed with Working Title (even with his multi-decade commercial track record Howard had to struggle to get this made) by Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media Group for a thrifty $38 million, with Universal handling U.S. distribution, this should be a major European and select Asian country success. In wide openings, it placed #1 in both the U.K. and Italy this weekend, with most of the world still to come (Japan not until next February).

What comes next: As this opens this Friday more narrowly than most wide films -- somewhere around 2,000 theaters -- it will depend on strong word of mouth even if it falls short of #1 next weekend (that spot conceded in advance to "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2"). This could be a film the largely male Academy membership will want to see whatever it grosses, and this earlier elevated opening is all part of making sure they are aware of it.

"Thanks for Sharing" (Roadside Attractions) - Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Toronto 2012

$608,000 in 269 theaters; PSA: $2,255

A mediocre showing for this star-driven sex therapy comedy (starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Tim Robbins) that premiered at last year's Toronto. Roadside has had real success in launching films wider than the narrow small city pattern -- "Mud," "Arbitrage" and "Friends With Kids" all opened to over $2 million in the 200-400 theater range. Earlier this year, their Japanese occupation story "Emperor" managed to cross $1 million on 260 screens on its initial weekend.

The reviews didn't help and the ensemble nature of the story as well as the icky sex addict subject matter may have tempered interest.

What comes next: With "Enough Said" going to most markets this weekend, the competition will become even tougher.

Also opening

"After Tiller" (Oscilloscope), a Sundance 2013 documentary about late term abortions after the murder of a Kansas doctor opened in two New York theaters to an OK $15,500, with strong critical support helping the cause. Weinstein opened the French food-related (and retitled) "Haute Cuisine" in three theaters for $15,300, at the low end of opening grosses for the company, despite strong theater placement.

Two wider multi-city releases had even lower PSAs: "My Lucky Star" (China Lion) starring Zhang Ziyi took in $50,000 in 23 theaters (mostly playing in theaters for the Chinese-American audience), while Goldwyn's South by Southwest hit "The Short Game" managed only $30,600 in 17. Two other Sundance 2013 films - "Newlyweeds" (Phase 4) and "C.O.G." (Screen Media, also on VOD) were among the numerous other openings that haven't yet reported grosses.

Ongoing/expanding

Among last weeks openings, SPC's Saudi Arabian "Wadjda" went the widest, though still only at nine theaters (+6) for $72,702 (PSA $8,078), an adequate if not sensational number. This film has reports of strong word of mouth, and its future will be determined by its ability to stay close to this number. "Mother of George" (Oscilloscope), after its impressive exclusive New York opening, came down to each this week with a $30,000 total in 5 (+4) theaters (PSA $6,000).  The genetically-engineered food doc "GMO-OMG" added Los Angeles to New York for a combined $14,500 in two theaters.

Weinstein expanded its documentary "Salinger" after its limited first two weeks with a soft $182,000 (138 theaters, +134, PSA: $1,319, total $358,000). That's a real disappointment after initial better results.

Among longer running specialized releases grossing over $50,000, Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" (SPC) continues is dominant performance, adding another $1,380,000 at 847 theaters (-146), now up to $29,774,000 and #13 overall. A24's "The Spectacular Now" in week 8 did $426,000 in 571, a weak PSA but still good enough to reach $6,445,000.

"Austenland" (SPC) did $276,000 in 234, now at $1,570,000 but losing theaters, so this won't get a lot further. Roadside Attractions "In a World" is holding very steady, $258,000, down only 10% despite keeping the same theater count (141), and now is up to $2,428,000. Weinstein's experiment in wider subtitled release "The Grandmaster" added $237,000 in 473, total of $6.3 million as it nears the end of its run. Cinedigm's "Short Term 12" is holding in there, with $141,000 in 75 (+12), for a new total of $714,000.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Fox Searchlight, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Enough Said, Rush, Ron Howard, Nicole Holofcener, Nicole Holofcener, James Gandolfini, Haute Cuisine


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.