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Arthouse Audit: New Specialized Openings Hit Low-Point; Subtitled 'Gloria' and 'Great Beauty' Hold Well

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
February 16, 2014 4:44 PM
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Benecio del Toro, Mathieu Amalric in 'Jimmy P.'

This weekend looks to be one of the weakest in years for new product. With only the non-specialized "Beijing Love Story" (China Lion) reporting grosses among new specialized films, the openers didn't look strong in any case. IFC opened Cannes and New York Film Fest entry "Jimmy P." from veteran French director Arnaud Desplechin in one theater, while their VOD-playing "Adult World," aimed at Valentine's Day audiences opened in two. Other films showed little action. None of these films received any better than consensus average reviews.

With awards contenders slackening even more (most head to home viewing venues in upcoming weeks), two foreign language entries, "Gloria" (Roadside Attractions) and the long-run "The Great Beauty" took up some of the slack as they both add to their already impressive (in the subtitled specialized market) grosses. The rest is fairly grim.

Opening

"Beijing Love Story" (China Lion) - Metacritic: 41

$128,000 in 9 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $14,222

Opening day and date with its wide mainland China release, and timed to hit right at the Asian New Year, this multi-story adaptation of a hit TV series played in theaters near large Chinese-American audiences to very solid numbers. Chinese films haven't shown the strength that their Indian counterparts had among in its expat and latter generation communities, but their producers continue to push them in the market at the country tries to become a production alternative to Hollywood and have more of their talent internationalized.

What comes next: These numbers likely lead to at least a modest expansion.

Expanding/ongoing

The wider field is quite lean. The sole second week film to report is the nearly four-hour long documentary "The Last of the Unjust" (Cohen Media), which showed some strength in an unusual fashion -- despite losing half its theaters (down to 4), its gross actually jumped 45%, taking in $20,800 with a respectable $5,200 PSA. This is still clearly a niche item, but the response suggests that it does have an audience if it plays in the right situation. Kino Lorber's "Afternoon of a Faun" came back down to earth in its exclusive New York theater, but still did a decent $9,000.

That PSA actually was ahead of the more normal length doc "Tim's Vermeer" (Sony Pictures Classics), which in three times as many theaters (12, + 5) grossed $56,700, PSA $4,725). This isn't a strong showing at this early level of theater playoff (now in its third week).

Faring much better as it expands (atypically fast for a subtitled film, with its cross-over Spanish language appeal likely helping) is "Gloria" (Roadside), grossing $301,000 in 92 (+27) in its fourth weekend, now at $944,000 and looking to have a lot more to add yet. Janus' sleeper success and Oscar contender "The Great Beauty" added another $98,570 in 52 (-1), only a small drop from last week. It is already up to $1,941,000. The sole other limited release to take in over $50,000 was "The Past" (SPC), with $99,000 in 77 (+10) to reach $996,000, not bad considering its disappointing awards notice (for which this had been positioned).

The new total grosses for the awards contenders are as follows, in order of placement:

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