Ira Sachs' acclaimed "Love Is Strange" and "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner's "Are You Here" are among the films joining a crowded specialty market this weekend, hoping to make a dent in the late summer box office. Will they? Here's our take:
- Are You Here (Millennium)
Director: Matthew Weiner
Cast: Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jay Gates, Jason Davis
Criticwire Average: 6 critics gave it a C average
Where It's Screening: 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa and Denver.
Box Office Expectation: Almost a year after it made a critically mixed debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the directorial debut of "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, "Are You Here," makes its way to theaters via Millennium Entertainment. Its reviews certainly won't help it, but Weiner's fanbase and the marketable trio of actors it features -- Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler -- should. The film stars Galifianakis as a man who inherits his estranged father’s fortune and has to challenge his sister (Poehler) for the money with the help of a womanizing local weatherman (Wilson). We'd doubt it could average much more than $5,000 from its 10 theaters, but if comes close that would be within expectation.
- Expedition To The End of the World (Argot Pictures)
Director: Daniel Dencik
Criticwire Average: 3 critics gave it a A- average
Where It's Screening: Exclusively at NYC's Film Forum
Box Office Expectation: This Danish documentary takes the journey its title suggests -- areas of Greenalnd that were formerly unnavigable but are now accessible for brief periods during the year due to climate change. Strong reviews and a unique focus should help bring audiences to its exclusive run at NYC's Film Forum. Perhaps around $8,000's worth?
- Love Is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics)
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Tatyana Zbirovskaya, Olya Zueva, Darren E. Burrows, Cheyenne Jackson
Criticwire Average: 22 critics gave it a A- average
Where It's Screening: 5 theaters: The Arclight and Landmark in Los Angeles; the Angelika, Lincoln Plaza and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas in New York.
Box Office Expectation: Ira Sachs' late-in-life gay love story "Love Is Strange" is surely the weekend's best bet at an indie hit. Sony Classics picked up the film at Sundance after it premiered to glowing reviews, and Sachs and his cast -- which includes John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei -- have aggressively been making the rounds. Controversy surrounding the MPAA's decision to give the film an "R" rating (despite no sex or violence in the film), will probably help it more than hurt it given its raised awareness about the film and made it even more of a film to root for. We're guessing that all equals a debut per-theater-average of $15,000.
- The One I Love (RADiUS-TWC)
Director: Charlie McDowell
Cast: Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson
Criticwire Average: 24 critics gave it a B+ average
Where It's Screening: The Angelika in New York and the Sundance Sunset in California, as well as on VOD.
Box Office Expectation: It's clearly a big weekend for both "Mad Men" folks in movies and Sundance debuts with "Love" in the title. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play a married couple on the brink of a separation in "The One I Love," which RADiUS-TWC is bringing to both theaters and VOD. At the urging of their therapist, they escape to a vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to salvage what’s left of their relationship. Clearly things don't go as planned. And though probably a better fit for VOD than theaters, we suspect the film itself will have a better planned weekend in the range of an $8,000 average.
- To Be Takei (Starz Digital Media)
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
Subjects: George Takei, Brad Takei
Criticwire Average: 9 critics gave it a B+ average
Where It's Screening: 35 theaters across the country.
Box Office Expectation: Another Sundance debut, Jennifer M. Kroot's documentary about "Star Trek" actor and LGBT rights activist George Takei and his husband Brad debuted on DirectTV last month already, and is now coming to an aggressive theatrical launch on 35 theaters across the country. Having already aired on television probably will dampen its gross potential, but people sure do love Takei and reviews have been solid. We'd bet that adds up to a per-theater-average around $4,000.
Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Check back for his weekend report here at Indiewire around noon EST on Sunday.