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Arthouse Audit: Maysles’ ’70s ‘Grey Gardens’ Best of Limited Releases

Arthouse Audit: Maysles' '70s 'Grey Gardens' Best of Limited Releases

In what is something of a loss to core specialized big city theaters, Fox Searchlight opted to releases its sequel “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” wide this week. Its playdates include many of the top theaters, but with grosses not as strong as they’d likely have been with more limited play.

All documentaries, the leading new entries this week include a 40-year-old film, “Grey Gardens” (Janus Films), co-directed by Albert Maysles, one of the founders of modern nonfiction film who died on Thursday at the age of 88. Two other docs also opened, with Abramorama’s “An Honest Liar” besting the much higher profile “Merchants of Doubt.”


“Grey Gardens” (Janus)  (reissue)
$12,300 in 1 theater; PSA: $12,300

This classic documentary about two women – mother and daughter, relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy and eccentric East Hampton denizens – is along with “Gimme Shelter” the best known of the many top films of pioneer directors Albert and David Maysles. This date at New York’s prime Film Forum was planned as part of a restoration and reissue of the film, with its co-director’s unexpected death (his latest, “Iris,” opens soon, and another premieres at Tribeca) making this date more poignant. In a fitting tribute, it became the most impressive opening of the week, a strong performance for this small venue.

What comes next: Janus has this scheduled for limited calendar dates over the next few months starting with Washington on March 20. This gross likely will add to its interest.

“An Honest Liar” (Abramorama) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Tribeca, Newport Beach 2014, Palm Springs 2015
$15,022 in 2 theaters; PSA: $7,511

Exclusive New York and Los Angeles runs for this documentary on James “The Amazing” Randi, an illusionist who specializes in exposing paranormal and other magic fakery, resulted in a respectable showing, particularly considering its lower-level ad profile. This fits into the profile that has been working in docs of focusing on lesser known but quite interesting performers and showing a behind-the-scenes narrative that elevates audience interest.

What comes next: This should be niche film going forward. It opens in 15 other cities on March 20 and 20 more shortly after.

“Merchants of Doubt” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto, New York, AFI 2014, Palm Springs 2015
$20,437 in 4 theaters; PSA: $5,082

Its high profile festival presence was the high point for this important documentary (whose topic is businesses paying apparent experts to counter negative scientific data, from smoking decades ago to climate change today), but it failed to make the Oscar semi-finalist list. Its opening post-awards season came with decent reviews, but despite SPC as usual getting the best possible New York/Los Angeles theaters, this had a weak initial response.

What comes next: This will get maximized release, per the usual SPC backing, even with these lesser numbers. But it doesn’t look like it will get the attention it deserves, particularly coming at a time when the press has uncovered how lucrative these deceptive practices are for some so-called experts.

“Road Hard” (FilmBuff) –  Metacritic: 49; also available on Video on Demand
$112,909 in 22 theaters; PSA: $5,132

Adam Carolla co-directed this dark comedy about a character similar to himself dealing with the trials of show business. The respectable gross comes from a combination of 11 full weekend dates and 11 additional one-night event showings.

What comes next: Carolla’s media profile should help add to the boost these theatrical dates have provided to mainly ongoing home viewing opportunities.

“Buzzard” (Oscilloscope) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: South by Southwest, New Directors/New Films, AFI 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$7,000 in 10 theaters; PSA: $700

Joel Potrykus’ Detroit-set story about a low-life office temp who doubles as a conman has gained a following after some key festival dates last year. Its multi-city opening looks to be secondary to its parallel VOD presence, where it will get most of its attention.

What comes next: Its theatrical component is likely limited to future calendar and possible midnight showings, with home viewings its main life.

New Asian Releases

“Crazy Beautiful You” (Star)
$(est.) 500,000 in 47 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 10,638

A Filipino romantic drama about a girl reluctantly along with her mother on a medical mission features female director Mae Czarina Cruz (her ninth feature, all made for local audiences). This gross shows there is also a market in selected North American cities with a similar ethnic background — these are very impressive numbers for a film with a limited audience.

“12 Golden Ducks” (Asia)
$(est.) 90,000 in 10 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 9,000

Limited release of the Hong Kong comedy (once a vital core of Asian genre cinema, ranking just behind martial arts films) from director/actor Matt Chow. The focus is a prostitute played by actress Sandra Ng, previously the star of the “Golden Chicken” trilogy, and similarly released around Chinese New Year. In its limited targeted run, these are decent initial grosses, although it likely won’t have much additional expansion.

“Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island”
$(est.) 50,000 in 19 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 2,631

This South Korean action sequel beat “Kingsman” for the top spot at home a couple weeks ago, and now found a modest sampling with interested audiences here.

Week 2

“’71” (Roadside Attractions)
$70,590 in 16 theaters (+12); PSA: $4,411; Cumulative: $145,838

British director Yann Demange is getting major attention from top production companes as his acclaimed Northern Ireland conflict film expands. “71” is getting excellent reviews but finding at best mixed audience attention at this limited level of exposure so far, indicating again the problems many of the best current releases are having gaining traction.

“A la mala” (Lionsgate)
$850,000 in 383 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,214; Cumulative: $2,599,000

This Mexican rom-com dropped only 39% its second weekend as once again Lionsgate’s production partner Pantelion finds success in targeted U.S. theaters.

“The Hunting Ground” (Radius/Weinstein)     
$8,936 in 2 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $4,468; Cumulative: $45,822

Kirby Dick’s acclaimed Sundance documentary took a big drop from its initial lower-than-estimated opening, and seems to be meeting theatrical audience resistance.

“Maps to the Stars” (Focus) – also available on Video on Demand
$64,000 in 61 theaters (-5); PSA: $1,049; Cumulative: $264,100

David Cronenberg’s Hollywood satire continues to hold theaters against its VOD play, doing minor business, down more than 50% from last weekend.

“Deli Man” (Cohen)
$64,527 in 25 theaters (+10); PSA: $2,581; Cumulative: $120,159

New York and Los Angeles added on this week after mainly Florida initial openings, this is getting some sampling if not a breakout reaction.

Ongoing/expanding (Under 1,000 theaters, over $50,000 gross)

“The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) Week 15    1103
$1,161,000 in 862 theaters (-241); Cumulative: $88,484,000

didn’t win anything but screenplay, but give TWC major credit for
getting this to a gross double or more of the best of the top category
winners. It will fall a bit short of $100 million.

“Birdman” (Fox Searchlight) Week 21- also available on Video on Demand & DVD/Blu-Ray
$733,000 in 777 theaters (-436); Cumulative: $41,550,000

The home viewing availabilities are keeping the post-Oscar gross to an unremarkable level, but this is still creeping up to the level that last year’s winner “12 Years a Slave” reached.

“What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison/Paladin) Week 4       
$329,140 in 100 theaters (+54); Cumulative: $932,211

Continuing to expand well, this New Zealand romantic vampire comedy has been one of the year’s few successful new specialized releases.

“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 22; also available on Video on Demand & DVD/Blu-Ray
$276,000 in 289 theaters (-249); Cumulative: $12,734,000

Still pulling in some minor theatrical gross despite its parallel home viewing.

“The Theory of Everything” (Focus) Week; also available on Video on Demand & DVD/Blu-Ray
$257,000 in 355 theaters (-256); Cumulative: $35,497,000

Only a $724 PSA, but considering this also is viewable at home, it’s all found money for Focus

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$144,690 in 28 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $538,661

director Damien Szifron scored an English-language project through SPC
parent company Sony, and meantime his Oscar nominated multi-story film
continues to expand well early in its run. This looks like word of mouth
as well as more limited competition at the moment could propel it to a
solid $2 million or better gross.

“Mr. Turner” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12
$127,322 in 114 theaters (unchanged); Cumulative: $3,532,000

Mike Leigh’s biopic looks to be heading to $4 million, a best for him in recent years despite its not getting its expected awards profile other than some key best actor wins for Timothy Spall.

“Leviathan” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$71,160 in 71 theaters (-9); Cumulative: $994,198

This Russian drama is heading to a credible $1 million+ take even though its individual theater grosses have never reached significant levels.

“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem” (Music Box) Week 4     
$53,361 in 15 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $226,528

Holding steady in its current dates, Music Box is launching a 22 theater expansion next week for this Israeli divorce drama, primarily in the New York area.

“Timbuktu” (Cohen) Week 6     
$63,565 in 36 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $734,024

Winding down, this has had a respectable showing as a tough subject story from Africa.

“Red Army” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7
$63,360 in 40 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $375,431

A big expansion for this hockey documentary brought in continued minor response despite its crowd-pleasing aspects.

“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem” (Music Box) Week 4     
$53,361 in 15 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $226,528

steady in its current dates, Music Box is launching a 22 theater
expansion next week for this Israeli divorce drama, primarily in the New
York area.

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