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Arthouse Audit: Awards Contenders Ramp Up for Oscar Bounty, 'The Rocket' and 'In Bloom' Open Modestly

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
January 12, 2014 4:16 PM
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Sitthiphon Disamoe in 'The Rocket.'
Sitthiphon Disamoe in 'The Rocket.'

The seasonally-normal low pace of new openings continues, with only two first-weeker's reporting grosses. Overall, highlighting the issue of an overabundance of theatrical releases, 20 new films opened in New York and/or Los Angeles, most of them to be little heard from again (at least five are already on Video on Demand).

The two that reported were both Oscar submissions that did not make the shortlist of nine: the Australian/Laotian "The Rocket" and Georgia's "In Bloom." They make up a record number of films submitted that have been released in the U.S. before the Oscar nominations, which is a positive trend.

The Top Ten weekend grossers (11, including weak performer "Her") are stealing the bulk of the business from audiences inclined to venture into more specialized films, with the competition not only intense for the wider releases but also more limited ones like "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Nebraska," both struggling as they expand. 

Opening

"In Bloom"  (Big World) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Berlin 2013, Hamptons 2013

$10,000 in 2 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $5,000

A new distribution company focusing on subtitled films is risky these days, so Big World is to be commended for its goals as well as booking two top quality New York theaters for its first release. The film managed to get decent critical attention and scored the top new opener, but these are modest returns. This Georgian film, set in 1992 after the country broke away from the Soviet Union, didn't get top level North American festival exposure (not that this guarantees success these days), but was positioned to benefit had it made it further in the Oscar race. Whatever the results here, the distributor will be in the mix going forward.

What comes next: A slow release, with dates set in Los Angeles and elsewhere in weeks ahead.

"The Rocket" (Kino Lorber) - Metacritic: 71  Festivals include: Berlin 2013, Tribeca 2013, AFI 2013

$7,000 in 2 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $3,500

Though Australia of course is an English-speaking country, this Laotian-made and spoken film qualified for the Oscars, and seemed, based on its audience awards from both Tribeca and AFI and appealing child-centric story to have a shot at getting awards attention. The initial result at two New York theaters is disappointing, but did show a doubling in attendance yesterday from Friday, suggesting at least the seeds of possible continued positive audience response.

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