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Arthouse Audit: 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Tops Trio of New Big-Name Openings

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood April 13, 2014 at 4:26PM

The heaviest slate of significant new films to open in one week so far this year, all of which had considerable attention from Cannes to Toronto in 2013, opened to variable results this weekend.
'The Raid 2'
'The Raid 2'

Other openings:

IFC brought out two films in limited theater showings the same time as their VOD play, with each doing passable business (all in New York). "Dancing in Jaffa," which premiered at Tribeca last year, got the better reviews and gross, doing $16,000 in two. It is an Israeli-set documentary about an effort to bring Jewish and Palestinian youth together in ballroom dancing classes. Though its main viewing will be VOD, the subject matter likely will help it sustain a modest theatrical presence ahead. "Hateship Loveship" from director Liza Johnson ("Return"), starring Kristen Wiig and Guy Pearce, did $7,000 at the IFC. It premiered at last year's Toronto. EOne's British comedy "Cuban Fury," not on VOD, only took in $55,500 in 79 theaters.


The two significant moves this weekend came from SPC and A24. The former expanded their Indonesian martial arts sequel "The Raid 2" to 954 theaters (+928) for $1,014,000 for a third week total of just over $1.4 million. The gross is similar to their expansion (in its case, the fourth week) of "The Raid: Redemption" which at that point was already at $2.5 million on its way to a domestic $4.1 million total (that film had a healthy afterlife with a different kind of appeal than most of SPC's films).

Last week's top opener."Under the Skin" expanded quickly -- including a number of high-end, center city theaters rather than in some cases normal core art houses - to take in $309,000 in 54 (+50). As its decent opening grosses last week suggested, this film clearly does have appeal, if more cult-oriented than wide release. The comparisons are rough, since each of A24's previous best films had somewhat different release patterns, but as last week's initial limited grosses suggested, it likely will lag a little behind them ("Spring Breakers," "The Bling Ring" and "Spectacular Now"). Still, expect them to keep taking this as wide as possible, with an ultimate gross somewhere in the $3-5 million range possible.

Among other second week entries, "Dom Hemingway" (Fox Searchlight) confirms what was apparent initially. With only $70,000 in 42 theaters (+38), the Jude Law-starring English crime film looks to be one of that company's least successful releases in some time. "Frankie and Alice" (Lionsgate/Codeblack) stayed in 171 theaters but saw its gross drop 64% from its weak start to $125,000. The IMAX/Warner Bros. short feature "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" fared better at the same premiere 37 screens, dropping 20% to gross $150,000. Errol Morris' also-on-VOD doc "The Unknown Known" (Radius/Weinstein) added 62 theaters to earn $64,700 in 80 for a low PSA. Zeitgeist's documentary "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden" expanded to 4 theaters (+3) to gross $18,700.

Four other later-in-their-run films took in over $50,000 this weekend (along with ongoing Top 10 smash "The Grand Budapest Hotel"), led by SPC's ongoing sleeper hit "The Lunchbox," which did $310,000 in 129 (+26), with the gross only slightly down and now with a $1,762,000 total. Lionsgate/Pantelion's "Cesar Chavez" took another steep drop, now only doing $275,000 in 305 (-359), although it is now over $5.1 million.

Two more limited films continue to show strength -- Music Box' "Le Week-End" added $267,000 in 145 (+42), now above $1.2 million. Another IFC doc, "Finding Vivian Maier" keeps finding new audiences as it grows, with $108,000 in 20 (+6), for a solid $5,000+ PSA and $320,000 in only its third weekend.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office Top Ten, Arthouse Audit, Only Lovers Left Alive , Jim Jarmusch, Under the Skin, The Raid 2, Joe, Nicolas Cage, David Gordon Green

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.