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Arthouse Audit: All Quiet on the New Opener Front

Arthouse Audit: All Quiet on the New Opener Front

Following two weeks with outstanding new limited openings of anticipated Toronto premieres, this week offered only one new opening — Film Arcade’s “The Other Dream Team” — with any traction in the market. At least ten other films opening in significant specialized theaters didn’t even report grosses, suggesting very little business.

Meanwhile, the wider marketplace has several outstanding films competing for adults ($32 million gross total in the top ten for three acclaimed films with smart-house appeal), plus “Arbitrage,” which is still going strong. But the low grosses for most of the new openings were more a factor of their limited draw than their competition. Although several significant films are opening in the next few weeks (“The Paperboy,” “The House I Live In,” “The Sessions”) it seems likely that September’s specialized openings could wind up performing better than October’s –which is not the usual pattern.


“The Other Dream Team” (Film Arcade) – Metacritic score: 65; Festivals include: Sundance 12, Seattle 12

$22,714 in 2 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,357

A documentary about a 1990s Lithuanian basketball team might not seem like prime theatrical fare, but this Sundance competition entry opened to a respectable gross at two NY/LA Landmark theaters. The PSA was about $2,000 above “Searching for Sugar Man,” another decent doc that gained traction through word of mouth after a modest opening. This is the first release for Film Arcade, a new company founded by production and acquisition veterans.

What it means: Already set in most major cities, this gross should help the film get more attention.

“Vulgaria” (China Lion) – Metacritic score: 52

$36,000 in 16 theaters; PSA: $2,250

Typical gross for the same month release for this new Hong Kong comedy about triads financing an adult movie.

What it means: Won’t go much beyond core Chinese community theaters.


“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Lionsgate) – Week 2

$1.137,300 in 102 theaters (+98); PSA: $11,150; Cumulative: $1,462,000

A successful entry into new markets while expanding in NY/LA after the initial big limited grosses last weekend. Still drawing heavily female, though a little older than initially, it likely competed for the same audience as Universal’s debuting “Pitch Perfect” (which opened in over 300 theaters, also with strong female appeal).

What it means: All signs indicate that this Summit Entertainment production should be able to go much deeper in the market to significant success.

“Diane Vreeland – The Eye Has to Travel” (IDP) – Week 2

$95,200 in 14 theaters (+11); PSA: $6,800; Cumulative: $198,000

Adding several cities quickly after its strong NY/LA openings, these grosses are about on par for similar docs about well-known creative personalities.

What it means: This should continue to expand into further markets and reach decent grosses. A similar initial performer, “The Queen of Versailles,” has grossed over $2 million, a bit more than this likely will, but still a reasonable benchmark.

“Brooklyn Boys Beat the Best” (Oscilloscope) – Week 2; also available on Video on Demand

$3,954 in 3 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,318; Cumulative: $8,418

Little response theatrically for this musician on the road comedy.

What it means: VOD will be its main venue.

“How to Survive a Plague” (IFC) – Week 2; also available on Video on Demand

$17,600 in 7 theaters (+3); PSA: $2,200 $; Cumulative: $58,000

Adding VOD this week as well as some added theaters, this fell quickly from its OK PSA last weekend.

What it means: Limited future theatrical play.

“Arbitrage” (Roadside Attactions) – Week 3; also available on Video on Demand

$923,000 in 256 theaters (+12); PSA: $3,600; Cumulative: $5,164,000

Holding well (the PSA was down only a quarter even with some added theaters) and now almost even with the total gross for the similarly released “Margin Call” last year, this shows no signs of slowing down.

What it means: The VOD means that it won’t go much wider, but this likely ends up grossing above what Roadside’s “Friends With Kids” – with no simultanrous VOD – did earlier this year. Attention will be paid to that.

“Liberal Arts” (IFC) – Week 3; also available on Video on Demand

$49,600 in 31 theaters (+11); PSA: $1,600; Cumulative: $160,000

Josh Radnor’s Sundance film stays consistent at its modest level as it expands further.

What it means: Not likely to add a lot more, with VOD the main platform now.

“Detropia” (LoKi) – Week 4

$28,050 in 11 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,550; Cumulative: $179,000

Continuing its steady modest run, this Detroit-set doc added the Bay Area this weekend as this self-distributed film (by the directors) makes its way to more big cities.

What it means: Los Angeles comes on board this week.

“Hello, I Must Be Going” (Oscilloscope) – Week 4

$9,545 in 11 theaters (-4); PSA: $904; Cumulative: $84,990

Little traction for this comedy – the total gross is under what the PSA was for its initial two theaters.

What it means: Limited ongoing interest for this.

“For a Good Time, Call…” (Focus) – Week 5

$52,123 in 84 theaters (-21); PSA: $620; Cumulative: $1,211,000

Dropping fast, and now facing much strong female-centric films in the market.

What it means: Just about done.

“Sleepwalk With Me” (IFC) – Week 6; also available on Video on Demand

$165,100 in 127 theaters (-8); PSA: $1,300; Cumulative: $1,890,000

In decline now after its initial strong performance pre-VOD.

What it means: This will still be one of the top grossing early VOD release films this year.

“Samsara” (Oscilloscope) – Week 6

$153,695 in 60 theaters (+1); PSA: $2,562; Cumulative: $1,400,000

A modest PSA drop as this carefully nurtured visual epic continues to perform well.

What it means: This will continue to play for some time.

“Robot and Frank” (IDP) – Week 7

$111,000 in 111 theaters (-45); PSA: $1,000; Cumulative: $3,076,000

Passing the $3 million mark without ever having gone close to wide, this still has a way to go before it’s done.

What it means: Of the nine films in the Sundance 2012 “Premiere” section that have opened, only “Arbitrage” has grossed more.

“Searching for Sugar Man” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 10

$96,649 in 37 theaters (-1); PSA: $2,612; Cumulative: $1,320,000

The PSA actually improved this week, a further sign of steady positive reaction to this doc, now in its third month.

What it means: At some point, this will run out of steam, but it seems to have life left in it still.

“Intouchables” (Weinstein) – Week 18

$139,000 in 121 theaters (-35); PSA: $1,149; Cumulative: $12,475,000

And the beat goes on. This has now outlasted both “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Beasts of the Southern Wild,” outgrossing the latter.

What it means: In length of run, if not total gross (though that is impressive for a specialized film, let alone a subtitled one), this is turning into 2012’s “Midnight in Paris.”

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