Two limited films in fewer than 500 theaters– the Mexican “Pulling Strings” (Lionsgate/Pantelion) and Fox Searchlight’s “Enough Said”– made the top 10 this weekend as “Gravity” soared across the country with substantial adult audience support. Two new mid-level releases, the Christian-themed “Grace Unplugged” (Roadside Attractions) and “Parkland” (Exclusive/Millennium) yielded modest results in their mostly non-art house debuts. The basketball doc “Linsanity” and Chinese drama “A Touch of Sin” were the standouts among more limited releases, with no other fresh films having much strength.
Twenty-eight new films actually opened this week in at least one of the two biggest markets. Several of the more notable newbies –IFC’s “The Summit,” Magnolia’s “Bad Milo!,” Anchor Bay’s “Argento’s Dracula 3D,” Strand’s “I Used to Be Darker” and “The Missing Picture,” Phase IV’s “The Dirties” — most with impressive major festival pedigrees – haven’t reported yet.
“Linsanity” (Ketchup Entertainment) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 51; Festivals include: Sundance 2013
$103,000 in 9 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,444
Evan Jackson Leong’s documentary following NBA sensation Jeremy Lin opened in six cities, and even without a lot of critical support scored a decent PSA. Like so many successful recent docs, this is a celebrity-driven film, with its core appeal reaching beyond normal specialized audiences. New distributor Ketchup Entertainment did a solid job of marketing this, which included working with faith-based groups who have followed Lin’s career.
What comes next: These grosses will help this expand across the country just as the NBA season is about to start.
“A Touch of Sin” (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Cannes 2013, Toronto 2013, New York 2013
$24,000 in 2 theaters; PSA: $12,000
Two films received rave front page New York Times’ Weekend section reviews on Friday — “Gravity” and Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s “A Touch of Sin.” The latter, opening in two prime New York arthouses, outscored by some distance the initial figures for this acclaimed international director’s previous films (“Unknown Pleasures,” “The World” and “24 City” among them) which had top festival presence but little U.S. theatrical impact. Kino Lorber, which regularly acquires top world cinema films, positioned this to open right after its New York Film Festival showing (a traditional role for this venerable fest).
As with Jia’s other films, this is a study of a contemporary China struggling to reach modernity, told on a human scale as individual characters fight powerful government and business officials intent on not letting anything stop their goals. This is not the kind of conventional subtitled film that will breakout into wide release, but figures like these show that even in a difficult market a lauded tough-minded, artfully realized work can get attention and draw high-end audiences.
What comes next: This opens in Los Angeles on Friday, followed by key cities around the country over the next month.
“Grace Unplugged” (Roadside Attractions) – No Criticwire or Metacritic scores
$1,045,000 in 511 theaters; PSA: $2,045
Roadside Attractions has dabbled in films that appeal to heartland religious audiences (“Blue Like Jazz” grossed $600,000 last year), but with “Grace Unplugged,” similarly a story of a talented young person whose faith is challenged when encountering a secular world, they went much wider initially. Playing across the country, with an emphasis on non-coastal locations, “Grace” did modest business overall. But with its limited marketing expense (buttressed by grassroots contacts) and a likely afterlife, this looks like a good business move by this normally more core specialized oriented company (whose “All Is Lost” starts its Oscar push with its release in two weeks).
What comes next: This won’t be a long run theatrical film, but it should have considerable ancillary appeal.
“Besharam” (Reliance Big) – No Criticwire or Metacritic scores
$389,000 in 217 theaters; PSA: $1,793
Starring Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor as an auto mechanic who steals cars to support an orphanage, this comedy opened as usual in the U.S. around the same time as India, the Gulf States, the U.K. and other markets, for a representative if not stand out response.
What comes next: This looks like it will fall short of some the actor’s past films in the U.S.
“Parkland” (Exclusive Media) – Criticwire: 52; Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Venice 2013, Toronto 2013
$335,000 in 257 theaters; PSA: $1,304
This retelling of the JFK assassination told from the point of view of those working to save him at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital debuted to mixed response at Venice and Toronto. With an ensemble cast full of well-known actors (among them Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Billy Bob Thornton) and a docudrama feel trying to retell a well-known tale, it is the feature directing debut of journalist Peter Landesman. The somewhat similar “Bobby” in 2006 was an early Weinstein Company film, released with a lot of awards anticipation (unrealized) but OK business ($11 million ultimately, though disappointing considering how wide it went). This is nothing close, and looks like it doesn’t have a lot of additional potential.
What comes next: Not likely to expand much further, with a quick playoff now likely.
The best of the rest included “A.C.O.D.” (The Film Arcade), another Sundance-premiered film, got great theater placement in New York and Los Angeles, but this comedy about the delayed impact of divorce on adult children only managed $20,000 combined, below par for the locations. Mixed reviews likely played a role. Zeitgeist’s “Let the Fire Burn” (Zeitgeist), a documentary about the 1985 police attack on a black activist group’s Philadelphia headquarters took in $7,700 in 5 days ($5,400 for the weekend) at New York’s Film Forum.
Other openers that reported grosses all had PSAs of under $5,000. Radius/Weinstein’s “Concussion” (also from Sundance), about a lesbian wife who deals with her midlife crisis by working in a high-class brothel for female clients, took in $8,200 in 2 theaters to buttress its Video on Demand play. Two Anchor Bay films — “Nothing Left to Fear” and “All Is Bright,” the latter also on VOD — had PSAs of $1,500 or less in limited release.
Among the second-week more limited release films, Picturehouse’s “Metallica – Through the Never” did $683,000 in 589 theaters (+284), which after its first-week IMAX push still dropped 57% despite its expansion. Its total now is $2,724,000. Radius/Weinstein’s doc “Inequality for All” did $136,000 in 41 (+13) for an OK PSA of $3,317. EOne’s “We Are What We Are” managed only $7,700 in 8 theaters (+6).
Only five other longer running films managed grosses above $50,000. “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics) is down on theaters (289 left) but still added another $454,000 to reach $31.4 million. The same company’s Saudi Arabian drama “Wadjda” more than doubled to 44 theaters (+28) for $125,971 (PSA $2,863), steady but continuing its modest performance. Their third female-centric release “Austenland” on 65 (-42) grossed $66,938 to reach $1,846,000.
These were joined by Roadside Attractions “In a World” did another $62,700 in its 9th weekend, getting to $2.7 million. A24’s “The Spectacular Now” in its 10th weekend eked out another $50,000 to get to $6,750,000.