Arthouse Audit: ‘Lore’ and ‘Charles Swan’ Modest Openers, Holdovers Stay Strong

Arthouse Audit: 'Lore' and 'Charles Swan' Modest Openers, Holdovers Stay Strong

With few significant new openings these days and competition for multiple adult-appealing Oscar contenders still significant, "Lore" and "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" both posted just average opening grosses. The snow in New York likely had some impact on box office there (both films opened only in NYC and Los Angeles), but the reality is 2013 is starting off slowly in terms of debuting releases.

Though not expanded yet beyond their initial limited runs, last week's documentary openers "The Gatekeepers" and "Koch" held up well this weekend. "Quartet" and "Amour" both expanded their respective still less-than-wide profiles, with the former showing a good deal more appeal despite its lack of any awards love.


"Lore" (Music Box) – Metacritic score: 73; Festivals include: Sydney 2012, Toronto 2012, Hamptons 2012

$31,000 in 6 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $5,133

The grosses aren't standout for this German-language, Australian-produced (that country's submission for the Foreign Language Oscar), but two intervening factors contribute to this. Two of the three prime theaters were in Manhattan, affected by the snow on Friday, and the run included three outlying theaters in Los Angeles which don't gross as much usually as more central ones.

Director Cate Shortland (who made "Somersault" which first brought Abbie Cornish attention) turned the normal conventions of families in peril in Germany during World War II around, featuring a group of children of Nazi higher ups on the run at the end of the conflict. With decent reviews and still not much fresh product around for core specialized theaters, there is a real opening for a new film to catch attention. The initial grosses so far might not be indicative of its ultimate success, but these are less than hoped for.

What comes next: Chicago opens next week, with most other major markets added on post-Oscars as the current group of films continue to compete with anything fresh.

"A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" (A24) – Metacritic score: 26; Festivals include: Rome 2012; also available on Video on Demand

$12,000 in two theaters; PSA: $6,000

Roman Coppola directed "CQ" a decade back, as well as shoing multiple music videos and collaborating on films directed by his dad and sister as well as with Wes Anderson. This low-budget effort stars Charlie Sheen as a 1970s album cover artist  suffering from self-doubts over his free-wheeling ways, which sounds (reinforced by the C.S. initials they share) suspiciously like a one-step removed self-portrayal inspired more by John Cassavetes. The result – with Video on Demand viewing also available – was a so-so gross in two leading New York and Los Angeles theaters.

After the Oscar-qualifying run of "Ginger and Rosa" (to go into regular release shortly), this is the initial film from new New York-based A24, which began acquiring edgier independent films at Toronto last fall and continued at Sundance this year.

What comes next: This will see most of its play on VOD.


"The Gatekeepers" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 2

$42,400 in 3 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $14,133; Cumulative: $153,000

Particularly with one New York theater in the mix, a drop of around 30% in the same three theaters from last week's strong opening is a positive result for this Best Documentary Feature contender from Israel. Unusual among recent successful docs, this is not performance and/or personality driven, but rather a serious issue film (multiple interviews with Israeli security heads speaking out about the country's security and risky future), which makes the strong response even more impressive.

What comes next: Most of the country won't get a chance to see this until after the awards (a handful open on Feb. 22), but irrespective of its chances there this looks like it will find a decent audience nationwide. With modest results in its country of origin, it likely will have more impact here, at least initially.

Koch" (Zeitgeist) – Week 2

$27,988 in 3 theaters (+1); PSA: $9,330; Cumulative: $79,724

Still playing only in New York, and thus weather-impacted (one of the two outlying theaters wasn't able to open), this maintained a decent level as enough locals braved the weather with an attitude not unlike the ex-Mayor who is the subject of this documentary.

What comes next: The next opening, Los Angeles, comes on March 1. The interest there likely will be greater than what would exist for a mayor from that city in New York theaters.

"Quartet" (Weinstein) – Week 5

$951,000 in 244 theaters (+42); PSA: $3,898; Cumulative: $5,010,000

The PSA fell by more than a third with a small uptick in theaters, but this remains a decent performance for this English retirement home comedy/drama that continues to draw the "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" audience, although at much smaller levels.

What is significant though about this film is that, though timed to take advantage of awards attention, it is giving a decent accounting for itself without having any itself right in the heart of the voting.

What comes next: This should easily outdo Weinstein's best limited release last year ("Intouchables") and continue to expand over the following weeks.

"Amour" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 8

$381,000 in 125 theaters (+31); PSA: $3,048; Cumulative: $3,024,000

Slowly expanding in advance of its planned most significant widening this Friday, this has so grossed about $1 million more than last year's "A Separation" at the same point, although this has played in more theaters earlier than last year's Foreign Language Oscar winner. The PSA fell about a third, and it continues to perform as a high-end limited-appeal film more than a potential crossover success (such as "Quartet" potentially).

What comes next: Between the expansion and one or more likely Oscars ahead, this should easily surpass "A Separation" (which grossed $7 million).

"The Impossible" (Lionsgate) – Week 8

$915,000 in 739 theaters (-26); PSA: $1,268; Cumulative: $16,626,000

A decent hold at modest levels, with grosses just a drop in the bucket compared to the $138 million (so far) this Spanish film has done in the rest of the world.

What comes next: The PSA is miniscule, but with this volume of theaters the gross keeps adding up to its likely (without an upset Best Actress win) $20 million + domestic total.

Also playing (+ totals)

"Hyde Park on Hudson" (Focus Features) Week 10 – $131,000/$5,816,000

"Anna Karenina" (Focus Features) Week 13             –  $55,700/$12,653,000

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