THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE is the story of the five young men who were wrongfully convicted for the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park. It examines how the legal system's rush to judgment - fueled by a city racially divided and fearful of crime - resulted in false confessions and no reassessment of the charges as conflicting evidence came in. This left a brutal rapist on the streets and robbed five innocent kids of their youth, all of whom served out their full terms. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, after directing a thorough re-investigation when the actual rapist came forward and confessed, and realizing his office's mistakes, joined with the defense to request that the convictions be vacated, which was instantly granted by Judge Charles Tejada.
Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories, an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.
This time of year tends to be really bad on the home market. By this late in spring, there are only a few late winter releases still finding their way on the home market. Last weekend it was Django Unchained and next weekend it will be Silver Linings Playbook. This week, there are no such releases. The best selling release according to Amazon.com is Jurassic Park, which makes its home market 3D debut. (It is still in the top ten at the box office, so that might be helping the sales.) I hope to get a screener to review but so far it is late, so I'm not sure if the 3D upgrade is worth the triple-dip. As far as Pick of the Week Contenders, there are not many. The Impossible is probably the best bet, but I'm still waiting for the screener. The week is so bad, that I took the time to review Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three on Blu-ray a week in advance, just so I would have something to choose as Pick of the Week this week. It is expensive, but there are several classic episodes that aired this season and there is a ton of new extras on the six-disc set.
Surprises seems to be the word of the day, as the WGA nominations included a number of them. Granted, Zero Dark Thirty and a lot of the other films that have earned Awards Season success thus far were here, but there were almost as many surprises as there were obvious choices.
The Independent Spirit Awards has a special place in the Awards Season. The nominations are the unoffficial start of Awards Season, but the actual awards aren't given out until Oscar weekend, so they are the beginning at the end of Awards Season. They also help out a lot of limited releases that would otherwise not get enough buzz, although they are not so good at predicting Oscar wins. This year, two films tied for most nominations, Moonrise Kingdom and The Silver Linings Playbook, both of which earned five nominations. They weren't the only films to earn multiple nominations though.
It was a particularly busy week on top of the per theater chart with seven films topping the $10,000 mark. Leading the way was Hitchcock with an average of $16,924 in 17 theaters. This is good for a limited release, but not great, and given the competition at this time of year, it needed to be great to survive. Anna Karenina expanded from 16 theaters to 66 earning an average of $13,580. Again, this is good, but not great. Rust and Bone was next with an average of $13,577 in two theaters. If it had sold just one more ticket, it would have earned second place instead of third on this list. Lincoln actually saw its per theater average grow reaching $12,724. It has already expanded truly wide and it should expand at least a little bit more. Likewise, Silver Linings Playbook should also expand more, as its per theater average this week was $11,945; however, it likely won't expand wide. The overall box office leader, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, was next up with an average of $10,723. The Central Park Five topped $10,000 on the per theater chart, barely, with an average of $10,190 in three theaters. Skyfall was the final film in the $10,000 club with an average of $10,069. It is pretty rare for a film to remain above that mark for three weeks in a row.
It's a pretty light week for limited releases. Hitchcock is by far the biggest release, but its reviews are only mixed, so its box office chances are not strong. On the other hand, The Central Park Five is earning reviews that are strong enough that it should thrive, at least in limited release. It is very rare for a documentary to expand wide, even under the best of circumstances.
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