By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 25, 2012 at 5:54PM
Two new solid openings – “The Raid: Redemption” and “The Deep Blue Sea” – both took somewhat unusual routes beyond normal platforms to find their audiences this weekend. The former showed some real appeal to a non-specialized, younger audience, while the latter shows some initial promise responding to its mostly excellent reviews.
Meantime, both “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” seemed to have found their footing with early crossover audiences with a chance now to expand further in upcoming weeks.
And an unheralded documentary about a sushi chef is showing strength in new limited openings around the country.
“The Raid: Redemption” (Sony Classics); Metacritic score: 71; Festivals include - Toronto 11, Sundance 12, SxSW 12, New Directors/New Films 12
$221,000 in 14 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $15,786
An atypical specialized film aimed at a younger audience more interested in action, Sony Classics got the opening they needed. As an Indonesian-set subtitled film, this visceral martial-arts thriller about a military unit retaking a Jakarta building floor by floor premiered as a Midnight selection at Toronto, then showcased at other recent leading US festivals.
Playing in seven cities in many theaters showcasing “Hunger Games” (which also show high-end platform runs), for the most part the actioner performed best (very well indeed) at the more commercial/general audience locations (LA’s Arclight was the standout). This bodes well for the film’s chances as it expands next week.
What it means: Although Sony Pictures Classics sticks to its knitting with such recent art-house successes as “A Separation” and “Footnote,” they have also carved a niche with high-end crossover action films; their biggest hit ever was “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." This so far looks like a major specialized marketing success, and though it will never likely reach anything like the levels of the Ang Lee film, this opening justifies Sony’s corporate faith in the project – they also have plans to remake it in English (as they did with “The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo,” which previously had achieved worldwide success in Swedish, although released in the US by a different company).
“The Deep Blue Sea” (Music Box); Metacritic score: 82; Festivals include - Toronto 11, San Sebastian 11, London 11, Miami 12
$121,000 in 29 theaters; PSA: $4,140
Going against the norm by opening in wider release in NY/LA than usual as well as adding Miami just after its festival exposure there, Music Box ended up with solid numbers (PSA of $17,000) at its core theaters (the Paris and Angelika in NY, the Landmark in LA). This is above what “The Kid With a Bike” did last week and a bit below the opening grosses for “Footnote,” which places it at a good level for its start, more so since the wider runs likely decreased the grosses at these theaters.
The enterprising Chicago-based Music Box, which previously has had crossover successes with similar wider opening films (most significantly the original “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), continued this with its unusually wide (but still limited) initial release pattern. Among these theaters, Music Box reports that it performed as well or better than other current new releases at these theaters (about 75% of the successful “A Separation” in Miami).
This British 1950s adultery drama garnered mostly strong reviews, including two all-out raves in the NY and LA Times. Director Terence Davies’ previous biggest success in the US was “House of Mirth” from SPC in 2000, which grossed $49,000 in seven theaters pre-Christmas, ultimately reaching $3 million.
What it means: The next wave of roll-out for this is more typical – seven new cities next week, with top theaters (including some small multiples) across the board. With continued strong reviews and ongoing acclaim for Rachel Weisz’ lead performance – potentially a contender in the 2013 best actress race – the film is positioned to be one of several recent film fest entries that were held back until this year’s awards season had run its course. Of course the challenge is bringing thse films back into voters' minds for awards consideration.
“4:44: Last Day on Earth” (IFC); Metacritic score: 54; Festivals include – Venice 11, Deauville 11, NY 11
$9,000 in 3 theaters; PSA: $3,000; also nationwide on VOD (video on demand)
Veteran cult director Abel Ferrara’s latest film, a drama starring Willem Dafoe as a New Yorker anticipating the imminent end of the world, opened weak in NY/LA concurrent with its home cable premiere.
What it means: This will have limited further theatrical life, unlike the somewhat similar “Melancholia” which thrived in theaters after it already achieved VOD success.
“Brake” (IFC) – Metacritic score: 38
$5,000 in 2 theaters; PSA: $2,500; also nationwide on VOD
The latest variation on “Buried” (man trapped in a confined space with limited ability to reach outside world) stars Stephen Dorff as a Secret Service agent who has lost his memory amid a terrorist plot in DC, with little theatrical success in its exclusive NY/LA runs.
What it means: Even less theatrical exposure likely for this than “4:44.”
“Musical Chairs” (Paladin) - Metacritic score: 44
$9,000 in 9 theaters; PSA: $1,000
Susan Seidelman – an indie darling in the 1980s with “Smithereens” and “Desperately Seeking Susan” – had a modest success in 2006 with “The Boynton Beach Club,” made in the wake of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” aimed, as is this film, at an older audience looking for offbeat relationship stories. This one however failed to find it.
What it means: This could still find a following later on VOD.
“Gerhard Richter Painting” (Kino Lorber) – Week 2
$15,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $15,500; Cumulative: $50,000
Another artist-based doc doing very well, this went up at its exclusive NY-Film Forum run, very encouraging to say the least.
What it means: This gross will help Kino Lorber expand this film far more than might have been expected.
“Footnote” (Sony Pictures Classics); Week 3
$164,000 in 23 theaters (+17); PSA: $7,130; Cumulative: $328,000
Expanding more rapidly now, and earning even better reviews in new cities than its strong initial response, this continues to show strength. Despite the large increase in theaters and normal declines at holdover runs, the PSA only declined by a bit more than a third, which is a positive sign.
What it means: This should be a film that will slowly expand while holding at current theaters if expected good WOM continues, and still looks on course to equal any previous Israeli film release in the US.
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (Magnolia) – Week 3
$180,000 in 27 theaters (+21); PSA: $6,667; Cumulative - $386,000
Showing that its initial NY grosses weren’t a fluke, this documentary about a top Tokyo chef is showing appeal in other cities. It already is grossing far better than “Undefeated,” which it will ultimately outgross by a wide margin.
What it means: Niche upscale audiences keep responding to personality-based docs about cultural/creative icons. Expect to see a lot more of these in theaters ahead.
“Salmon Fishing in Yemen” (CBS Films) – Week 3
$700,000 in 124 theaters (+62); PSA: $5,645; Cumulative: $1,626,000
Another cross-over film that is finding some real appeal beyond what the initial week indicated, and now looks like it potenrtially could become an above-average grosser (perhaps ahead of “In Bruges,” which ended up just under $8 million). Despite doubling the theaters, the PSA declined only around 25%, which is quite impressive, more so against this week’s competition.
What it means: CBS Films’ faith in their release pattern seems to be playing off, as this likely will continue to expand over the next few weeks.
“The Kid With a Bike” (IFC-Sundance Selects) – week 2
$108,000 in 24 theaters (+21); PSA: $4,500; Cumulative: $173,000
Although it is not set for VOD for several months (unusual for IFC-SS releases), this film has expanded rapidly to new cities. With new reviews improving its already high Metacritic score (now up to 86), these numbers are respectable, although falling short of what current success “A Separation” reached early in its release.
What it means: Considering the surprising number of competing films in these theaters, this movie is still finding an audience. Thus The Dardenne Brothers have only reached a tiny US audience, so within that context in particular the film has exceeded expectations so far, which should bode well its later VOD performance.
“Detachment” (Tribeca) – week 2
$10,300 in 3 theaters; PSA: $3,433; Cumulative: $24,900
Adding LA this week while continuing its VOD exposure, this remains a small grossing film, although the overall PSA only went down slightly.
What it means: A few more cities open this Friday, which at least will increase the film’s awareness for potential at-home viewers.
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (Paramount – week 2
$600,000 in 254 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,362; Cumulative: $1,787,000
Though its opening was not spectacular, Paramount’s decision to hold steady at 254 theaters seems validated by an impressively modest falloff of only 30% despite facing the “Hunger Games” juggernaut at most of the same theaters. Spillover audiences may have helped.
What it means: There is still ilife in this film, and adding further theaters after a more limited opening to garner good word of mouth (WOM) may still pay off.
“Boy” (Paladin) – week 4
$15,500 in 7 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,214; Cumulative: $93,000
The PSA only decreased 26% despite keeping the same theater count, which makes a so-so overall gross a bit more encouraging.
What it means: This very indie New Zealand film has already done over $40 million worldwide with success in several companies. The US is not going to ultimately add much to its success.
“Undefeated” (The Weinstein Company) – Week 6
$27,200 in 17 theaters (-4); PSA: $1,600; Cumulative: $379,000
Already losing theaters, with a 40% PSA falloff, this is showing few signs of life despite its Oscar Documentary Feature win.
What it means: Any chance of word-of-mouth kicking in to save this seems to be lost. Weinstein has remake rights – if this happens, the story will still be fresh to nearly all audiences. Another Weinstein doc – the much publicized “Bully" – opens this Friday.
“Friends With Kids” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 3
$877,000 in 555 theaters (-85); PSA: $1,577; Cumulative: $5,574,000
Losing theaters in its third week, with a PSA that isn’t strong but at least didn’t collapse this week, this has earned most of its money, and already has outgrossed Roadside’s recent success “Margin Call” (although it has played at considerably more theaters).
What it means: This still looks to reach a respectable $8 million or so in gross over the rest of its run.
“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) – week 13
$348,000 in 261 theaters (-21); PSA: $1,333; Cumulative: $6,095,000
Now falling off finally after a very successful run both before and after its Oscar win, this still has a way to go before it completes its run
What it means: SPC still will get this played off with existing prints in theaters that don’t always play subtitled films, or play them later in their release, so their gross still has a way to go, although now likely short of the best recent FL Oscar winner (“The Lives of Others”).
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” (Oscilloscope) - Week 11
$97,500 in 80 theaters (+15); PSA: $1,219; Cumulative: $1,349,000
The intrepid folks at Oscilloscope keep this going week after week, now once again adding theaters even with less than great grosses.
What it means: This still has a shot of grossing $2 million, impressive under the circumstances.
“In Darkness" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 8
$60,500 in 51 theaters (-1); PSA: $1,186; Cumulative: $794,000
This continues to maintain its low gross week-by-week, though it has never performed to expectations despite its FL nomination.
What it means: Whatever this film can gross, SPC will maximize it, so it still will be in play for a while longer.
“The Artist” (Weinstein) – week 18
$489,000 in 576 theaters (-579); PSA: $849; Cumulative: $43,052,000
Again, the most impressive element here is the Weinstein team’s ability to hold on to theaters at this point. Otherwise, this is just about at the end of its theatrical run.
What it means: Only about five million people had seen this in the US prior to the Oscars. After its win, the film was seen by 38 million viewers, but it has struggled to add fewer than two million more since then.