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Arthouse Audit: 'Hannah Arendt' Leads New Openings, 'The East' and 'Kings of Summer' Open Just OK

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood June 2, 2013 at 4:29PM

Early summer specialized releases are falling short of the initial grosses of breakout films from the last two years. But several films representing a range of audience appeal (primarily younger-oriented) are showing varying levels of strength. A surprisingly strong New York gross from the German film "Hannah Arendt" (Zeitgeist) is the initial standout entry.

'Before Midnight': Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
'Before Midnight': Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
"The History of Future Folk" (Variance) - Metacritic score: 64; Festivals include: Los Angeles 2012, Fantastic Fest 2012

$6,100 at 1 theater; PSA: $6,100

This combination performance art documentary/narrative film featuring the bluegrass folk group Future Folk opened at New York's Cinema Village, and with the added attraction of group member appearances at some showings resulted in a good gross for that particular theater (with has small auditoriums and opens multiple small films weekly) ended up with a passable gross.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens next week, also with personal appearances. Video on Demand begins on Tuesday.

Top ongoing/expanding films

"Before Midnight" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 2

$431,000 in 31 theaters (+26); PSA: $13,903; Cumulative: $800,000

A good expansion for Richard Linklater's latest film in this series co-written by and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with a performance of about 60% of the level of the more readily commercial "To Rome With Love" from Woody Allen with similar theaters last year (which met a mixed response but managed to gross $16 million total). This is about half as wide as IFC went with "Frances Ha" last week, with a higher PSA (typical for fewer theaters), but a similarly positive initial indication of interest.

This looks to be on track to outgross "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," with indications that SPC plans for a wider release than either of those (Warner Independent topped out at 204 theaters with "Sunset" in 2004, grossing just under $6 million). It is initially outperforming Linklater's "Bernie" from last year, which reached $9 million in its run.

What comes next: Continued widening through June and beyond.

"Fill the Void" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 2

$48,200 in 6 theaters (+3); PSA: $8,033; Cumulative: $148,800

Added runs in Los Angeles doubled the theater count with no new markets yet, leading to an overall adequate second weekend for this Israeli orthodox marriage ritual drama.

What comes next: This still looks on track to find the usual audience for high-quality Israeli films in upcoming months, although not at the level of "The Footnote" or "The Gatekeepers."

"Frances Ha" (IFC) - Week 3

$552,000 in 133 theaters (+73); PSA: $4,150; Cumulative: $1,578,000

In its third weekend, Noah Baumbach's black and white comedy/drama already is IFC's biggest gross since "Sleepwalk With Me" last summer, with a real chance of becoming their first to gross over $5 million since "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and their biggest since "Y Tu Mama Tambien" more than a decade ago. This is significant since the company has recently been a leader in video on demand, which might have seemed a potential parallel medium for this low-budget, younger urban audience appeal film. But their decision to stick to theatrical initially seems to be working, as word of mouth is helping its cause.

What comes next: Next week, over 200 theaters.

Also playing

Among films deeper into their runs, Roadside Attractions' "Stories We Tell" is the top performer, adding another $120,000 this weekend in 39 (total $907,000). Two films that have played a week longer and wider already have lower totals -- SPC's "Love Is All You Need" is up to $707,000, while Millennium's "What Maisie Knew" is at $543,000, both modest performers. "The Iceman" also from Millennium, which has played wider than any of them, has hit $1.7 million.

Weinstein's two limited films both continue playing. "Kon-Tiki," whose two Norwegian directors have just been chosen to make the next "Pirates of the Caribbean" entry, still hasn't reached the $1 million mark despite solid support, while "The Sapphires" is nearing the end of its run at around $2.2 million, a figure above what its opening weekend suggested, but still below initial expectations. SPC's "The Company We Keep," the widest of any of these, is nearing the $5 million mark.

The second weekend of Focus' documentary "We Steal Secrets" came in with a weak PSA of $2,500 at 11 theaters, suggesting this won't go much further.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents, Hannah Arendt, The East

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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.