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Limited Releases: Lagging Behind the Competition

October 24th, 2014

Laggies poster

Last weekend, Birdman opened with Oscar-worthy reviews and it wasn't the only film that was expected to be a hit at the box office. This weekend, there are no such films. CitizenFour and Force Majeure are both earning Oscar buzz, but one's a documentary and the other is a foreign-language film, so neither are likely to expand significantly. This leaves Laggies as the film with the loudest buzz, even if its reviews suggest it might not thrive in limited release.

1,000 Times Goodnight - Reviews
Juliette Binoche plays a war correspondent, who is nearly killed and as a result, her husband, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, tells her she has to quit her job or he will take her two daughters and leave the marriage. She agrees, but then an opportunity to photograph a refugee camp is offered to her, she is ensured it will be safe, safe enough that her daughter can come with her. This turns out not to be the case. The reviews for this film are good, but not great. It usually takes great reviews for a film to survive in limited release. Additionally, the film is playing on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are even weaker. 1,000 Times Goodnight opens tonight in select cities. Check out the official site for more details.

23 Blast - Reviews
An inspirational sports story that is based on real life events. There have been a lot of these and as a result, there is a long list of well-established genre clichés. Sadly, it seems this one uses too many of them. 23 Blast opens tonight in over 600 theaters, which is too many for a limited release.

CitizenFour - Reviews
A documentary about Edward Snowden, the whistleblower, and the two investigative journalists he worked with. This could wind up being the Oscar winner for Best Feature-length Documentary this year. Its reviews are that strong. CitizenFour opens tonight in five theaters. Check out the official site for more details.

Exists - Reviews
A group of friends go camping in the woods, and since this is a horror film, you know that turns out poorly for them. The reviews are bad and it's the wrong genre for limited release. The only way this film would have a lower chance at the box office is if it were playing on Video on Demand. Exists opens tonight in select theaters, but will likely have to wait till the home market to find an audience.

Force Majeure - Reviews
A family goes on a ski vacation, but when an avalanche hits, the father rescues his iPod and not his kids. Everyone survives, but the marriage might not. This film is earning stellar reviews and it is Sweden's official entry for Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar. That said, it is still a foreign-language film and those rarely have breakout success. Force Majeure opens tonight in two theaters, both in New York City, and expands over the coming weeks. Check out the official site for more details.

Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me - Reviews
A documentary about Glen Campbell, who went on a massive 18-month tour, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So far there are only four reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but they are all positive. Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me opens tonight in eight theaters in select cities nationwide. Check out the official site for more details.

Happy New Year - No Reviews
A Bollywood film about a dance competition. Like most Bollywood movies, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is really hard to judge if it will be a hit with its target audience. Happy New Year opens tonight and showtimes can be found here.

The Heart Machine - Reviews
A film about a couple who meet and fall in love over the internet. However, the man begins to suspect the woman actually lives in the same city as he does and tries to find her. So far, all twelve reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, which is an excellent sign. On the other hand, the buzz is not great and the film is playing on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are weak. The Heart Machine opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Laggies - Reviews
Keira Knightley stars as a 28-year old woman who hasn't figured out what to do with her life. After her high school sweetheart proposes to her, she leaves him, because she's not ready for adult life. She then beings hanging around a 16-year old girl, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, and later develops romantic feelings for the young girl's father, Sam Rockwell. The film is earning some of the best buzz and the best reviews on this week's list, but in both cases they are likely not strong enough to thrive in limited release. Had it opened wide with a full ad campaign, it likely would have been a midlevel hit. As it is, it will likely have to wait till the home market to find an audience. Laggies opens tonight in New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle, with a planned "nationwide" expansion on the seventh of November.

Life of Riley - Reviews
A French film that is based on a play that is about a play. A group of theater performers are trying to put on a play when they learn one of their friends has cancer. The reviews are just at the overall positive level, which would be fine for a wide release, but usually proves fatal for a limited release. The Life of Riley opens tonight at the Film Society Lincoln Center in New York City.

Low Down - Reviews
A movie based on memoirs of Amy-Jo Albany, who is portrayed in the movie by Elle Fanning and it is about her and her father, Joe Albany, a jazz pianist, who was dealing with addiction and poverty at the time. The cast is great, but the reviews are not, with critics complaining that is full of all the clichés of this type of film. Low Down opens tonight at the Sunshine Cinema in New York City before expanding over the coming weeks. Check out the official site for more details.

Pelican Dreams - Reviews
A documentary about a pair of ailing pelicans and their road to recovery. It was made by Judy Irving, who previously made The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, so I suspect it will be a great movie. However, there's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, so I suspect it will slip between the cracks at the box office this weekend. Pelican Dreams opens tonight in three theaters. Check out the official site for more details.

The Principle - No Reviews
A documentary that claims the Earth is the center of the solar system. ... I really think this movie is made by a Poe as some kind of joke.

Revenge of the Green Dragons - Reviews
A story of two immigrant brothers and their rise through the Chinese mafia. So far the reviews are terrible and there are too many other movies opening in limited release this week to think this one will rise above the pack.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls - Reviews
A Canadian movie that I previously talked about when it came to Canada. There are still only three reviews, which suggests it will slip between the cracks. Rhymes for Young Ghouls opens tonight in four theaters. Check out the official site for more details.

Stonehearst Asylum - Reviews
An adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story. It is set in a turn of the century mental asylum where the methods of treating patients are surprisingly modern. A new resident, Jim Sturgess, is impressed by the new work done by Dr. Lamb, but soon begins to suspect something isn't right. The film has a great cast, but the reviews are exactly 50% positive and it is already playing on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are nearly zero. Stonehearst Asylum opens tonight in select theaters, but will likely perform better on the home market.

The Trial - No Reviews
A high school student with a learning disability is charged with raping his teacher. It is a busy week and this film has no reviews, which is a bad sign. Also, it doesn't appear to have an official site for its North American release. (The film is originally from the Philippines.) I'm not 100% sure it is coming out this week.

White Bird in a Blizzard - Reviews
Shailene Woodley is going to win an Oscar. She's only in her early 20s and she already elevates any material she's given. Unfortunately, while the critics are praising her performance in this movie, overall, it just isn't enough to save it. White Bird in a Blizzard opens tonight in select cities, but it is also playing on Video on Demand.


Filed under: Limited Releases, 23 Blast, Laggies, Revenge of the Green Dragons, Exists, Stonehearst Asylum, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Aimer, boire et chanter, White Bird in a Blizzard, Turist, Pelican Dreams, Low Down, Tusen ganger god natt, The Principle, Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, The Heart Machine, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, CitizenFour, Happy New Year, The Trial, Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Elle Fanning, John Hawkes, Ben Kingsley, Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Jim Sturgess, Shailene Woodley, Judy Irving, Glen Campbell, Edward Snowden, Edgar Allan Poe, Lauryn Canny