Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Arthouse Audit: The Weekend is 'Bernie''s, 'Sound of My Voice' is Weak, 'Elles' Gets Boost from NC-17

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood April 29, 2012 at 3:44PM

An incredible 20 films premiered in limited runs in NY or LA this weekend (including three on Wednesday). While most were branded by festival play, few boasted much pre-opening coverage. Only "Bernie" wielded much box-office muscle --while "Headhunters" also showed signs of early strength.

'Sound of My Voice'
'Sound of My Voice'
"The Sound of My Voice" (Fox Searchlight) - Metacritic score: 66; Festivals include: Sundance 11, South by Southwest 11, Palm Springs 12

$40,069 in 5 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $8,014

After premiering in the Next section at Sundance 2011, Fox Searchlight acquired this Brit Marling low-budget indie after SxSW as a follow-up to Marling's "Another Earth," and have already filmed Marling and director Zal Batmanglij's next, "The East," with Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page. Searchlight released it a year later with solid if odd theater placement (two prime in LA, only one in Manhattan, then two in the DC area), this scored mediocre grosses. For the three core NY/LA runs, the PSA was somewhat better (sources indicate over $11,000), placing it ahead of last week's not-so-good opening of "Darling Companion," which is now struggling.

What it means: Even if this turns out to be a minor grosser, this film has already taken its filmmaker and writer-producer-star to the next level. That it is getting a significant platform release is just gravy.

"Elles" (Kino Lorber) - Metacritic score: 49; Festivals include: Toronto 11, Berlin 12

$26,000 in 6 theaters; PSA: $4,333

A rare NC-17 release, this French drama with Juliette Binoche as a journalist going undercover with two prostitutes opened in six cities, including one-week calendar dates in Atlanta, St. Louis and Washington along with its NY/LA dates. With weak reviews and its launch in lesser-grossing cities, the PSA is strong enough to sustain a modest interest in the specialized market.

What it means:   Kino Lorber often doesn't pursue the MPAA for a rating. That they did for this indicates that the NC-17 in this case is an asset, since they never expected to attract major chain theaters. This likely will be a better than average subtitled DVD release later on.

"Citizen Gangster" (IFC) - Metacritic score: 53; Festivals include: Toronto 11; also available on VOD

$800 in 1 theater; PSA: $800

Known as "Edwin Boyd" when it premiered as a Special Presentation at last year's Toronto Fest, this Canadian-bank robbery story booked a token NY opening in order to score review attention.

What it means:   This will have little future theatrical play.

"The Whore's Glory" (Kino Lorber) - Metacritic score: 71; Festivals include: Venice 11, Toronto 11

$4,800 in 2 theaters; PSA: $3,400

Building on decent or better critical response and with a NY run that includes the prime Lincoln Plaza, this documentary failed to find a significant audience.

What it means:   Likely limited future bookings for this going forward.

"Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale" (Well Go) - Metacritic score: 62; Festival include: Venice 11, Toronto 11

A surprise semifinalist in the most recent Oscar Foreign Language race in its original 4 1/2 hour long version, this 150-minute cut opened in several cities, mostly in areas with a Chinese-American audience. It's epic story of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan before and during WWII.

"Restless City" (AFFRM) - Metacritic score: 56; Festivals include: Sundance 11, London

In 3 theaters

Like "Sound of My Voice," this premiered in the Next section of Sundance last year. It follows the adventures of an aspiring Sengalese-emigre singer navigating his way in Harlem.

"Inventing Our Life - The Kibbutz Story" (First Run) - Metacritic score: 67

In 1 theater

This Israeli documentary about the early foundations of kibbutz life in Palestine decades before the founding of the Israeli state opened in New York.

"Payback" (Zeitgeist) - Metacritic score: 55; Festivals include: Sundance 12

In 1 theater

Going fairly quickly from its premiere in the World Doc section of this year's Sundance to NY's Film Forum, this adaptation of novelist Margaret Atwood's examination of mutliple forms of debt received mainly mixed reviews.


"Darling Companion" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 2

$71,614 in 17 theaters (+13); PSA:$4,212 ; Cumulative: $126,515

Expanding into a few new cities with equally weak reviews as last week, this dog-search comedy for adults is not finding traction, indicating that audiences might ignore it despite the lack of other new films for that age-group. (Last week's initial reported weekend estimate proved to be considerably high, leading to its outlook being a bit better.)

What it means:  With several strong titles coming up soon, it's hard to see how this film's best days are ahead.

"Monsieur Lazhar" (Music Box) - Week 3

$252,021 on 66 screens (+33); PSA: $3,819; Cumulative: $613,335

As they often do, Music Box continues to expand this subtitled film far more rapidly than most other distributors, and the results are encouraging. The PSA for this number of screens places it above many similar releases with equal or better reviews.

What it means: These grosses indicate solid word of mouth, which should mean this could reach at least the $2 million mark. At the very least, it will be no worse than the third-best-grossing of the Oscar Foreign Language nominees (behind "A Separation" and most likely "Footnote" as well).

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents

E-Mail Updates

Festivals on TOH

Thompson on Hollywood

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.