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Arthouse Audit: 'Tim's Vermeer' Shows Life; 'Gloria' Expands Well

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood February 2, 2014 at 3:59PM

For the second straight week, a specialized release whose opening date was initially timed to follow a hoped for Oscar nomination that didn't work out opened to decent results anyway. "Tim's Vermeer" (Sony Pictures Classics) was thought to be a prime contender for the Documentary Feature award.
"Tim's Vermeer"
"Tim's Vermeer"

For the second straight week, a specialized film whose release was initially timed to follow a hoped-for Oscar nomination that didn't happen opened to decent results anyway. "Tim's Vermeer" (Sony Pictures Classics) was thought to be a prime contender for the Documentary Feature award after strong festival showings, but like the similarly anticipated "Gloria" (Roadside Attractions) in the Foreign Language category, failed to make the list of semi-finalists. "Gloria" in the meantime had a strong second week expansion. Thus two early 2014 films may fill in for the declining (but still decent) actual awards contenders that have dominated the art market over recent months.


"Tim's Vermeer" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Criticwire: A-, Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Telluride 2013, Toronto 2013, New York 2013

$57,900 in 4 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $14,475

This opened in the mid-range of recent limited documentary openings, behind "Stories We Tell" and "20 Feet from Stardom" but ahead of "Searching for Sugar Man" and about the same as "Blackfish," all of which grossed $1.5 million or more," "Tim's Vermeer" not only overcame its lack of Oscar recognition and a negative New York Times review (usually a factor in that key market) to end up with a decent start in its initial New York/Los Angeles engagements.

"Tim's Vermeer" is the story of a hi-tech entrepreneur's quest to determine whether the great Dutch painter Vermeer (the subject of "Girl With the Pearl Earring") was not only a master artist but also an ingenious inventor. As much a study of obsession on the part of the film's contemporary subject as the artist, it continues the recent trend of successful documentaries that focus on creativity, with the filmmaker taking a proactive role in shaping a story beyond just compiling current or past events.

Though not among the strongest of recent doc openings, the intriguing subject of this film combined with SPC's clear commitment combined to make this an encouraging start. This is their best opening limited weekend since "Blue Jasmine" last mid-summer.

What comes next: Expect SPC to expand this to maximum effect as they always do, which usually mean a bit more slowly than most other distributors.

"12 O'Clock Boys" (Oscilloscope) - Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Hot Docs 2013, Chicago 2013; also available on Video on Demand

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Tim's Vermeer, Arthouse Audit, Gloria

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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.