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Arthouse Audit: 'Llewyn Davis' Tastes Major Success in Limited Opening

Thompson on Hollywood By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood December 8, 2013 at 4:09PM

By opening better than any of the recent spate of acclaimed awards-bound films (including frontrunner "12 Years a Slave") the new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, "Inside Llewyn Davis," served notice that it too deserves attention. With three of the Coens' last four releases winding up as Best Picture contenders, and the reviews for "Davis" ranking slightly below "Gravity" and "12 Years" for best of the year, this result while not surprising was also not in the bag, as the film isn't a surefire crowdpleaser and boasts younger, urban appeal.
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"Tim's Vermeer"
"Tim's Vermeer"

What comes next: CBS is going even more slowly with this than Paramount has with "Nebraska" (other recent awards contenders have jumped to wider runs quickly pre-Christmas), with the next cities not opening until December 20 and the wider national run waiting until January.

Also opening:

Two potential awards contenders, both with one-week runs only before their official releases next year, opened without (as per custom) reporting their grosses. Sony Pictures Classics' short-listed Oscar Feature Documentary "Tim's Vermeer" showed at New York's Lincoln Plaza Theater (very strangely, not reviewed in the New York Times, though it was elsewhere) with no reports on its grosses. It qualifies in Los Angeles next week. Weinstein opened "One Chance" from director David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada" and "Marley and Me") at the Landmark in Los Angeles. This U.K.-set reality show-based story premiered at Toronto and features a Taylor Swift original song, now eligible for an Oscar. It played at a small auditorium, and sold out several shows.

Two other new films reported. EOne opened the Italian Bosnia war drama "Twice Born" starring Penelope Cruz in 10 theaters for only $13,900. Indie vet Laura Collela's "Breakfast With Curtis" (Abramorama) did $2,000 in one New York location.

Ongoing/expanding

"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" (Weinstein) had an exceptionally good hold from its decent (though lower than initially reported) opening last week. Unusually for the company, they didn't expand anywhere the second week, even though intervening events presumably would boost interest in new markets. In any event, whether either because of the news of Mandela's death and/or good word of mouth, it fell only 8% in its four New York/Los Angeles theaters, grossing $77,700 for a PSA of $19,425 (about 20% of what "Llewyn Davis" did in similar theaters.) Interest above what had been expected looks in store for this biopic.

Also in its second weekend, IFC's female rock-doc "The Punk Singer" expanded to 16 theaters (+3) to do a spotty $29,100.

Recent initial arthouse openers "The Book Thief," "Philomena" and "Dallas Buyers Club" all placed in the Top 10 with a weak overall studio slate opening the way for more specialized films to rank. Unlike its fellow awards contenders, Paramount is taking a slower course for "Nebraska" (by far the most limited of Alexander Payne's film in its release pattern). It grossed $545,000 in 115 theaters (+13). The film is still struggling to gain traction, but encouraging for Paramount is that it fell only 25% off the holiday weekend, much less than the three other films in the top top. Clearly, the studio is counting on long-term word of mouth, the upcoming Christmas period and numerous awards citations ahead to bolster its expansion. This remains a question mark as to how big and how wide it can go, but the film seems to have handling with an unexpected finesse from a big company. It is up to $2,262,000 so far.

Another well-received if not breakout film holding well is yesterday's big European Film Awards winner, the Italian "The Great Beauty." Staying with 23 theaters, it grossed $88,500, down only 33%, and now just under $400,000.

Among other longer-run films grossing above $50,000 is Cinedigm's Latino musical doc "Narco Cultura," which grossed $65,000 in 46 (+45) in its third weekend. The best of the older releases remains "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight), with a 50% falloff, grossing $1,140,000 in 1,082 (-83) for a total of $35,000,000. "All Is Lost" (Roadside Attractions) took in $122,500 in 142 theaters for a new total of $5,465,000. "Blue Is the Warmest Color" (IFC) added $82,500 in 75 (-19), $1,792,000 so far. And Fox Searchlight's long running "Enough Said" in its 12th weekend still did $62,000 in 94, now just under $17.3 million.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Thompson on Hollywood, Inside Llewyn Davis


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