By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 9, 2014 at 4:28PM
$41,200 in 3 theaters; PSA; $13,833
Though the gross is far down from the huge numbers for "Budapest," on its own terms this is a very impressive result for this unheralded documentary handled very independently, but still able to corral appropriate theaters (New York's essential Film Forum and Los Angeles' ideal Nuart, along with a suburban Orange County CA venue). The two core theaters had an even better PSA of $17,000 (though the suburban run was above average as well). This is a doc about big ideas -- basically, efforts physicists are making to discover how the universe was created. It didn't have a big campaign or much elevated festival exposure, but it did have great, prominent reviews (even scoring a bit ahead of "Budapest" so far) to go along with its appropriate placement. The result is a very promising start. The ideas here don't seem to be the kind of subject that should be limited to these cities, but now that it has broken out initially should find a broader interest. And the grosses are strong enough to increase exhibitor interest ahead.
What comes next: This has already been booked at select Landmark theaters in upcoming weeks, but look for it to have a wider profile in upcoming weeks.
"The Face of Love" (IFC) - Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Toronto 2013, San Sebastian 2013, Vancouver 2013
$25,800 in 3 theaters; PSA: $8,600
With a cast headed by Annette Bening and Ed Harris (with Robin Williams showing up as well), Arie Posen's ("The Chumscrubber") tearjerker (about a widow who thinks she has found a lookalike for her late husband) seemed at Toronto to be have potential theatrical appeal. The three New York/Los Angeles theaters (all top-rate) managed to overcome the weak reviews to manage a modest gross. However, IFC decided to in advance to maximize this as a Video on Demand film (it starts its play this Thursday), which seems justified by this result.
What comes next: Apart from home access, IFC will get this open in other big cities over the next few weeks.
"Bethlehem" (Adopt) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Venice 2013, Toronto 2013
$69,700 in 26 theaters; PSA: $2,681
Adopt two weeks ago opened Oscar Foreign Language nominee "Omar" (from Palestine, but sharing themes and settings with this Israeli film) much wider than normal (53 theaters), with the award tie-in suggesting a reason to move out quickly. The same pattern, though on a more narrow scale, was used for this film. The result, even at half the theaters in 13 markets, still was a lower PSA. Since "Omar" overall wasn't that special to start off with, this total has to be considered disappointing. Top Israeli films, particularly those distributed in recent years by Sony Pictures Classics, have shown the ability to slowly roll out and end up with $1.5-$2.5 million nationwide. This quicker initial showing makes that result much less likely here, although the interest in similar releases means that it still should be able to find playdates at many of the same theaters.
What comes next: Adopt hopes to roll this out to around 100 theaters over upcoming weeks.
Sony Pictures Classics pushed their Bombay-set romance "The Lunchbox" more widely than their normal pattern for subtitled films, now at 13 (+10) to gross $126,000 (PSA $9,672). This is a result better at this stage of a the run than any of the company's foreign language films since "Amour" (including some with a much higher director and/or country profile), and suggests good word of mouth and initial interest that should propel this easily into a $2 million + ultimate gross. SPC also has "Tim's Vermeer" in its sixth week, with $180,000 in 65 (+12), with $727,000 so far.
Two other wider second week limited releases had variable results. Lionsgate/Code Black's "Repentance" at 157 theaters (+5) fell 42% to gross $290,000/$912,000 total. Sony's Russian IMAX release "Stalingrad" collapsed with a 79% drop in 143 (-165), doing only $105,000 in near empty theaters (now at $863,000.) In its third week, Buena Vista's "The Wind Rises" is doing much better, with $871,000 (-43%) at the same 496 theaters, $3.3 million so far.
The post-Oscar haul was uneven, more so with many of the winners already viewable at home. "12 Years a Slave," (Fox Searchlight), despite its DVD release last week, managed to make #9 with an additional $2.2 /$53.1 million. Two acting Oscar winner "Dallas Buyers Club" (Focus), also viewable on VOD, added another $637,000 in 312 (+96) to reach $26.6 million. "The Great Beauty" (Janus), Foreign Language winner, at 77 grossed $160,000 to reach an impressive $2,433,000 as it gains new life. Non-winners "Philomena" (Weinstein) and "Nebraska" (Paramount) added $708,000 and $200,000 respectively (the latter already out on DVD).