Far more than the mainstream fare, Hurricane Sandy's aftereffects had a major impact in the specialized world, particularly with openings. With lower Manhattan slowly recovering, at least one new film was cancelled (Adopt's "Cafe de Flore") while others were delayed in certain theaters (Weinstein's "This Must Be the Place" at the Sunshine; Zeitgeist's "Gregory Crewdson" at the Film Forum). "Cafe" went ahead with its Miami booking to real success, while wider release "A Late Quartet" showed some promising initial response.
Beyond the temporary disruption caused by Sandy, the bigger ongoing threat is the strong appeal of current studio releases, with both "Argo" and now "Flight" competing for the same audience as year-end awards releases. With an acclaimed James Bond film and "Lincoln" next up, things are only going to get more competitive.
Among other new openings not reporting this week was Magnolia's "Jack and Diane," a New York-set Tribeca Film Festival hit that also debuted on VOD.
"Cafe de Flore" (Adopt) – Metacritic score: Incomplete; Festivals include: Venice 11, Toronto 11, Palm Springs 12
$10,000 in 1 theater; PSA (per screen average): $10,000
Scheduled to open last Friday at NY's Angelika (with LA later), Adopt Films cancelled their plans midweek due to the storm even after some initial reviews appeared. But they went ahead with their scheduled Miami opening, and bolstered by a strong Miami Herald review managed a solid gross, even without the help of often influential national coverage, and despite being in a tiny 144 seat theater.
This Quebec French-language film from director Jean-Marc Vallee ("C.R.A.Z.Y.," "Young Victoria") stars French actress Valerie Paradise in a multi-generational romantic drama. The Miami number shows some immediate older-audience appeal.
What comes next: NY and LA are now set to open on Nov. 16. But Adopt looks like they were able to salvage the film from a damaging situation by proceeding with the Miami date, which should enhance their ability to build momentum.
"The Late Quartet" (eOne) – Metacritic score: 68; Festivals include: Toronto 2012
$76,000 in 9 theaters; PSA: $8,444
This Canadian ensemble costarring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener boasted the weekend's best collection of theaters in NY/LA (including the partially-shuttered Sunshine) plus four other cities. The music drama had a respectable start overall, particularly considering the current competition for adult moviegoers.
What comes next: With some planned national publicity delayed because of storm coverage, next week's new openings in 25 more markets could yield decent results. This will ultimately need strong word of mouth to thrive, but with only "The Sessions" expanding to any sort of significant response in art houses, this has potential to find an audience.
"This Must Be the Place" (Weinstein) – Metacritic score: 59; Festivals include: Cannes 2011, Sundance 2012
$7,000 in 1 theater; PSA (per screen average): $7,000
With NY's Sunshine Theater not reopening until late into the weekend, Weinstein is reporting a mediocre $7,000 at this film's only other run at the LA Nuart. An Italian film starring Sean Penn and Frances Macdormand, this premiered in competition at Cannes a year and a half ago, then was relaunched at Sundance. Only now opening, this appears to justify the company's very limited launch.
What comes next: Unlike other Weinstein delayed festival premieres, this did not go the initial Radius/VOD route. But in this case, the theatrical fortunes ahead don't seem to be better than those other films, at least in terms of significant theatrical playdates.
"The Details" (Weinstein-Radius) – Metacritic score: 52; Festivals include: Sundance 2011, Los Angeles 2011, Seattle 2012; also available on Video on Demand
$20,000 in 14 theaters; PSA: $1,429
Acquired by Weinstein for a reported $7.5 million almost two years ago, this Toby McGuire-Laura Linney starring comedy looked primed to be one of the potential breakout films from Sundance 2011. Now showing up primarily as a VOD release as Weinstein's Radius label aggressively provides fresh product for home viewers, the theatrical response is at the low level of their other films, and far below the performance of other more successful day and date releases from Roadside Attractions, IFC and Magnolia.
What comes next: With VOD results not publicly reported, it is impossible to gauge how close Weinstein will come to recouping their investment. Marketing for a limited (mostly one-week) theatrical run will keep additional costs down, but they will need to score a lot of home views to turn this into a success.
"The Bay" (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic score: 64; Festivals include: Toronto 2012, New York 2012; also available on Video on Demand
$21,400 in 23 theaters; PSA: $930
Barry Levinson's Toronto Midnight show premiere failed to show any life in theaters as it opened at the same time as VOD. This is another of the Lionsgate/Roadside collaborative efforts, but unlike "Arbitrage" it has little appeal for ticket buyers, with the VOD results unpublished.
What comes next: Theater playoff will be very limited beyond this week.
"The Other Son" (Cohen Media) – Week 2
$102,000 in 52 theaters (+11); PSA: $1,962; Cumulative: $278,000
Holding OK at so-so levels, this Israeli-Palestinian family drama already has opened in most major markets.
What comes next: The subject matter likely will keep this in play for several more weeks with wider than normal theater interest at this level of gross. Meantime, Cohen is doing its best to keep the foreign language market alive beyond just a tiny niche audience.
"The Loneliest Planet" (IFC) – Week 2
$21,600 in 9 (+7) theaters; PSA: $2,400; Cumulative: $40,500
Mediocre expansion for this Gael Garcia Bernal-starring mountain trek story, with some less favorable reviews in new markets not making things any easier.
What comes next: An unusual non-VOD release for an IFC festival-launch, so far the theatrical response has been below what some of their day-and-date playing films have done.
"The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight) – Week 3
$456,000 in 69 theaters (+49); PSA: $6,609; Cumulative: $931,000
The one clear wider audience success among recent expansions, this Sundance drama continues to march towards awards consideration with a strong response to its significant increase in theaters. It also is keeping pace with how "The Beasts of the Southern Wild" did on its way to an $11 million total, which as a summer release lacked the boost that Oscar talk will give this later on.
What comes next: This looks on track for a much wider expansion going into Thanksgiving and then having a chance to hold on to key theaters in the weeks after.
"The Flat" (IFC) – Week 3
$74,000 in 20 theaters (+11); PSA: $3,700; Cumulative: $161,000
Decent expansion for this Israeli documentary about family roots and revelations.
What comes next: After the explosion of docs all year, there are fewer new ones in the marketplace at the moment, giving this a chance to prosper ahead.
"Brooklyn Castle" (PDA) – Week 3
$30,300 in 13 theaters (+5); PSA: $2,331; Cumulative: $90,400
Another documentary making its way around the country, and seeing decent sampling in a variety of new theaters.
What comes next: As with many other docs, hoping prominence now increases its chances for upcoming awards.
"Holy Motors" (Indomina) – Week 3
$15,100 in 5 theaters (+3); PSA: $3,020; Cumulative: $83,500
With LA yet to open, and its NY presence hurt, this acclaimed if unconventional French film was had a weak response this weekend.
What comes next: Most cities have yet to open, so this still has a chance to return to its more promising first week level.
"Smashed" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 4
$36,000 in 21 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,714; Cumulative: $201,000
The gross only fell slightly, but unfortunately from a low level.
What comes next: As always, SPC will make sure this plays everywhere it deserves, so it should still be around for a while.
"Simon and the Oaks" (Film Arcade) – Week 4
$31,700 in 13 theaters (-1); PSA: $2,438; Cumulative: $122,000
New openings boosted the gross above last weekend's even with one less theater, which is a positive development.
What comes next: Steadiness will keep this on screen, but this is still not looking to break out beyond core theaters.
"Middle of Nowhere" (AFFRM) – Week 4
$16,300 in 8 theaters (-16); PSA: $2,038; Cumulative: $193,000
Retrenching now as what looked initially like an innovative marketing plan failed to grow after early promise.
What comes next: The attention the theatrical launch got though still has elevated the film and its creators beyond what a more typical release might have achieved.
"The Master" (Weinstein) – Week 8
$180,000 in 138 theaters (-63); PSA: $1,304; Cumulative: $15,511,000
"Searching for Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 15
$163,000 in 105 theaters (-9); PSA: $1,554; Cumulative: $2,424,000
"Arbitrage" (Roadside Attractions) – Week 8; also available on Video on Demand
$132,000 in 110 theaters (-15); PSA: $1,200; Cumulative: $7,547,000
"Samsara" (Oscilloscope) – Week 11
$70,300 in 62 theaters (-5); PSA: $1,134; Cumulative: $2,305,000
"The Paperboy" (Millennium) – Week 5
$51,700 in 42 theaters (-34); PSA: $1,231; Cumulative: $632,000