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Arthouse Audit: 'Lincoln' Makes Triumphant Limited Opening, Beats 'Schindler's List' Initial Numbers

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 11, 2012 at 4:14PM

Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" opened with the most impressive limited gross of the year, solidifying its status as a rigorous Oscar contender. Though not the top per screen average of the year, it opened wider - 11 theaters in seven cities, not just NY/LA - than those with higher average numbers.
2

"A Royal Affair"
"A Royal Affair"
"A Royal Affair" (Magnolia) - Metacritic score: 70; Festivals include: Berlin 12, Telluride, Toronto 12, AFI 12

$40,000 in 7 theaters; PSA: $5,714

With strong theater placement (including the ideal Paris in NY), decent reviews, a Danish Oscar Foreign Language film submission, good festival placement and what seemed like a reasonable opening date, this Danish royal romance period drama was hurt badly by all the competition for adult, review-oriented films. By all indications a crowd-pleaser wherever it has been shown, Magnolia, unlike most of their releases, went theater-only for this initially, which seemed like the logical choice. This has been thought of as being one of the frontrunners for a nomination, and an early opening could elevate its profile. But this is far below the expected level.

What comes next: Other important foreign language films open soon, including Sony Pictures Classics' "Rust and Bone" and "Amour," which will tell much more about the ability of subtitled fare to reach their deserved audiences. In the meantime, it is possible that decent word of mouth could help sustain these initial runs, as well as find better results as it expands. But it is very tough out there at the moment.

"Starlet" (Music Box) - Metacritic score: 74; Festivals include: South by Southwest 11, Hamptons 11, AFI 12

$16,018 in 6 theaters; PSA: $2,670

Another case of strong reviews not paying off. Led by an all-out rave from Manohla Dargis in the NYTimes, this American-indie film about a quirky friendship between a young woman in LA and an elderly lady includes a breakout performance by Dree Hemingway. But in this era of several US indies opening weekly, and many of which are soon available on Video on Demand, the degree of difficulty of getting deserved attention is getting higher all the time. This seems to be another casualty.

What comes next: Set to open in other markets, this still will get a chance at more attention. But for now, it appears to be a real challenge to get to what should have been its audience.

"In Another Country" (Kino Lorber) - Metacritic score: 68; Festivals include: Cannes 12, AFI 12

$3,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $3,500

Another victim of too much competition, this latest film from acclaimed South Korean director Hong Sang-soo played at the perfect NY theater (the Lincoln Plaza) to very little response.

What comes next: Only niche bookings seem likely beyond this.

"The Comedy" (Tribeca) - Metacritic score: 73; Festivals include: Sundance 12; also available on Video on Demand

$6,000 in 1 theater; PSA: $6,000

This Sundance competition film starring Tim Heidecker did a solid gross at LA's Cinefamily, aided by in-person appearance from the star. 

What comes next: Along with the VOD, Tribeca has this set to open in NY and elsewhere over the next few weeks.

Expanding/ongoing

"This Must Be the Place" (Weinstein) - Week 2

$30,167 in 11 theaters (+9); PSA: $2,742; Cumulative: $43,524

Minor grosses for this Italian-made Sean Penn/Frances Macdormand drama, carried over from last year's Cannes and just now getting released.

What comes next: Not looking like this will have a long shelf life.

"A Late Quartet" (EOne) - Week 2

$174,000 in 62 theaters (+53); PSA: $2,806; Cumulative: $284,000

In a tough market, these are adequate or better grosses for the quick expansion of this Christopher Walken/Philip Seymour Hall starring drama.

What comes next: Good enough for EOne to push this further, even if faced with major competition.

"The Other Son" (Cohen) - Week 3

$125,000 in 53 theaters (+1); PSA: $2,358; $511,000

Holding fairly well, any subtitled film that can get to this gross this early has to be considered a positive sign.

What comes next: This should be able to expand further a likely more than double its gross.

"The Loneliest Planet" (IFC) - Week 3; also available on Video on Demand

$16,900 in 13 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,300; Cumulative: $72,900

Weak numbers for further limited expansion of this Gael Garcia Bernal mountain trek story.

What comes next: VOD mainly.

"The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 4

$545,000 in 128 theaters (+59); PSA: $4,258; Cumulative: $1,655,000

Playing at one less theater than Searchlight's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" did its fourth week, the gross is about 70% of what the earlier film did at that point. So it's good, more so since "Beasts" had much less competing for the adult audience. 

What comes next: This expands to 400 theaters this week - far above the high mark for "Beasts" - and with upcoming awards attention likely goes beyond that film's excellent performance.

"Holy Motors" (Indomina) - Week 4

S32,153 in 14 theaters (+9); PSA: $2,297; Cumulative: $124,060

Getting some attention at new theaters, but this unconventional French drama still is showing only limited appeal.

What comes next: That it is getting playoff alone these days is to Indomina's credit.

"The Flat" (IFC) - Week 4; also available on Video on Demand

$57,600 in 24 theaters (no change); PSA: $2,304; Cumulative: $238,650

This Israeli doc continues to have modest success, but more importantly, had about an identical PSA with the same theater count, showing a real steadiness.

What comes next: This should keep going despite its VOD presence within its intended audience.

Later week totals

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (Lionsgate) - $1,060,000 in 67 theaters, total $14,452,000

"Simon and the Oaks" (Film Arcade) - $136,000 in 17; $141,600

"Searching for Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics) - $105,000 in 94; $2,562,000

"The Master" (Weinstein) - $103,000 in 88; $15,688,000

"Arbitrage" (Roadside Attractions) - $79,900 in 87; $7,645,000

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents, Steven Spielberg, Lincoln, DreamWorks


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