By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 23, 2014 at 4:32PM
Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" expanded wider and nabbed the bulk of attention from specialized and crossover crowds, landing at seven in the box office top ten. The new films openers were led by the first half of Lars von Trier's "Nymphomania" and a documentary about another visionary director, "Jodorowsky's Dune." The arthouse scene struggles to find films that aren't quickly cannibalized by wider breaks, but this week's openers include several films that will do most of their business, as they go wider in upcoming weeks, in more limited release.
As it goes wider, the more commercial "Bad Words" from Focus Features looks to do less business than was initially hoped, though with the expectation of strong support and further expansion ahead. Two other expanding films, "The Lunchbox" from India and the documentary "Particle Fever" both are showing solid returns as they go beyond their initial cities and should continue to show strength in upcoming weeks.
"Nymphomaniac Vol. 1" (Magnolia) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 63; Festivals include Cannes 2014, Berlin 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$175,000 in 25 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $7,000
The first part of Lars von Trier's four-hour unrated opus has already been available for home viewing for over two weeks, making this gross only a small part of the picture (as usual, figures for its VOD take are so far unavailable). This strategy replicates the one for von Trier's earlier "Melancholia," (also Magnolia) although to lesser initial theatrical returns. ("Melancholia" had a PSA of $13,500 on 19 screens, bolstered by strong reviews, and ultimately took in $3 million along with $6 million in VOD payoff).
VOD always limits theater availability (as well as its NC-17 equivalent sexual content), although less so among core art houses. This initial gross (spread across the country rather than just New York/Los Angeles) is under the circumstances a decent sampling, with the additional benefit of providing marketing support for the home viewings. The release is a bit of a challenge -- one film played in two parts in all venues, with Vol. II already viewable on VOD (the initial theatrical date is April 4).
What comes next: Most of the viewing will be at home, but this should see some additional theatrical play as well.
"Jodorowsky's Dune" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Cannes 2013, Telluride 2013, Toronto 2013