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Arthouse Audit: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Expands Strongly, '56 Up' First Doc Hit of 2013?

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
January 6, 2013 4:05 PM
4 Comments
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Ewan McGregor in "The Impossible"
"The Impossible" (Lionsgate) - Week 3

$2,760,000 in 572 theaters (+557); PSA: $4,825; Cumulative: $3,417,000

The gross for this film is $10,000 better than "Zero Dark Thirty"-- in almost ten times as many theaters. But this says more about the latter's film's performance (and the high quality of its more limited theaters) than "The Impossible."

Opening with far less fanfare and still no major TV campaign, the PSA is OK for this number of runs -- as long as it can be sustained as it goes wider. All this is timed to Naomi Watts' expected best actress nomination on Thursday (possibly the sole one for the film).

That this didn't expand nearly as wide as "Promised Land" (which ended up with a so-so tenth place gross for the weekend) comes from Lionsgate knowing it has an Oscar push ahead and suggests confidence in upbeat word of mouth (the first two limited weeks' steady performance gave evidence of that). But it isn't clear at the moment how  much wider an expansion is warranted.

What comes next: Could Naomi Watts become a serious contender to win? It's not out of the question. The perception of her chances could be affected by its ongoing performance.

"Amour" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 3

$63,000 in 3 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $21,700; Cumulative: $315,000

The estimated gross is up slightly from last weekend at a point where holding steady after a holiday weekend is very unusual and strong sign of positive audience response. Though these grosses (two theaters in New York and Los Angeles) are very good rather than spectacular, they do represent one of the best performances -- particularly for a third week -- for a subtitled film in some time.

SPC is going slowly with this, even for them. The timing, apart from appreciating the trickiness of the film's appeal with its older characters in a chamber drama-like setting, clearly is meant to play off not only its awards (best film and actress Saturday from the National Society of Film Critics follows other groups including the Los Angeles Film Critics) but to build on its hoped-for Oscar recognition this week. They are taking a gamble to some extent -- from one, as the film is sure to land a foreign language slot -- to as many as four (picture, actress, director, and screenplay). SPC knows how to handle their Oscar contenders. This is the first subtitled film in years, despite their dominance in the Foreign Language category, that they have pushed so extensively in other categories.

What comes next:  Most major cities will be opening over the next few weeks during the nominating period, but not Friday, so curious Oscar followers who want to catch up on the top nominees may have to wait some more. But SPC hopes that one win or more will result, and that apart from that the film's appeal to core art house audiences will keep interest up at the same time. So far, the results suggest the strategy is working.

"Not Fade Away" (Paramount) - Week 3

$285,000 in 565 theaters (+546); PSA: $496; Cumulative: $427,000

David Chase's 1960s rock story is total disaster in its widening, if possibily doing even worse than in its limited runs.

What comes next: Nothing. It's a fizzle.

"Hyde Park on Hudson" (Focus) - Week 5

$1,044,000 in 222 (+138); PSA: $4,703; Cumulative: $3,217,000

A big (and possibly ultimate) expansion for this Bill Murray/FDR comedy-drama to continued modest but adequate results. These are good enough to get them through next weekend (when its star is up for a Golden Globe), even if the film has overall been a disappointment.

What comes next: At one point, this was thought (and positioned) to be a major Oscar contender for Focus, who usually is represented in the top categories. They did git the film played off to maximum potential over the holidays.

"Rust and Bone" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 7

$179,000 in 39 theatres (+13); PSA: $4,590; Cumulative: $881,000

Adding some additional cities, this continues to gross at average but steady levels. For a foreign language film these days, these are decent enough compared to most other releases over the last few months, and the total is already approaching the $1 million mark. Star Marion Cotillard's possible best actress nomination would help enhance this further, and is why after seven weeks the film has yet to open across much of the country.

What comes next: Hope for the Oscar nod and move deeper into the market, with all the additional costs that can entail. SPC is always smart about these things, and with Cotillard unlikely to win, this likely will never be a wide release.

Other films (grosses in millions and totals)

"Anna Karenina" (Focus) - Week 8: $357,000/$11,525,000

"Hitchcock" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 6; $146,000/$5,843,000

"Chasing Ice" (Submarine Deluxe) - Week 9: $39,700/$855,000

"Searching for Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 26: $30,700/$3,063,000

"Holy Motors" (Indomina) - Week 9: $26,000/$561,000

"West of Memphis" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 2: $8,400/$40,000

4 Comments

  • bob hawk | January 7, 2013 2:02 AMReply

    " A #1 showing next weekend (with major competition) could put this back into the middle of the Best Picture race and more." Huh? Put this BACK?? I think it's been in the middle of the Best Picture race ever since it opened and was reviewed. It's nomination is already a slam dunk, and its potential to win will have virtually nothing to do with its grosses (as re "Hurt Locker"). I think it's going to be between "Lincoln" (probable winner), "Zero Dark Thirty" (the major challenger) and "Les Miz" (a getting-more-distant third, 'cause it ain't really that good, and the aforementioned two are significantly more meritorious).

  • Wayne | January 6, 2013 6:45 PMReply

    The Up series is great but if you follow it closely you would have seen 56 Up months ago. It aired on ITV in the UK last May and has been available on the Internet since then, if you know where to look.

  • Tom Brueggemann | January 7, 2013 12:40 PM

    It is not however available on DVD in the U.S., contrary to my initial report yesterday. The 1st Run website has a prominent ad for the box set, saying "The entire series is available," but that does not include "56 Up." The previous episodes - "7 Up" through "49 Up" meantime do stream via Netflix.

  • Taylor | January 6, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I think Amour's gross is considerably more impressive if you take into account that if you search specifically for it playing in Los Angeles on Fandango (a site as popular for just checking theater schedules as buying tickets)...you are returned with results that suggest it NOT playing in Los Angeles.

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