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Are Limited Releases Spreading Hope or Distress?

April 6th, 2012

It's a pretty big week for limited releases, although due to the holidays, we don't have hard theater counts for most of them. There are a large number of films that are earning some real measure of buzz and / or very positive reviews. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope might have had the best hope at finding an audience, but it is coming out on Video on Demand as well as in theaters. Likewise, The Hunter has an impressive cast and good reviews, but opened Video on Demand previously, and that tends to kill a film's box office chances. Damsels in Distress could be the big hit as well as it does have a few actors, and a director, that have Indie cred.

The Assault - Reviews
A look at the 1994 terrorist hijacking of Air France flight in Algiers and the French SWAT team that was sent in to rescue the more than 200 passengers. The film's reviews are weak, even compared to the average wide release. It deals with a real-life story, but not one that people here have a direct connection to. The Assault opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.

ATM - Reviews
Three co-workers are driving home after a long night and decide to get a midnight meal, but first they have to hit an ATM. Once they get their cash, they see a lone man watching them. This is a little weird, but it goes from weird to terrifying when the lone man kills a passerby. This film hits the trifecta for a limited release box office bomb. It's the wrong genre. It has earned terrible reviews. It has been released on VOD. ATM opens tonight in select theaters.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope - Reviews
Morgan Spurlock directs and co-writes this documentary, which is a love letter to Fandom. A ton of people are interviewed, from the average fan, to those who want to work in the industry, to celebrities from the world of comics, TV, and movies. The reviews are very good, but the movie is also opening on Video on Demand, so I'm not sure how well it will perform in theaters. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope opens tonight in three theaters in Portland, Oregon; Santa Monica, California; and San Francisco, California.

Damsels in Distress - Reviews
Whit Stillman made three movies in the 1990s, all of which earned good reviews and did well in limited release. However, he hasn't made a movie since The Last Days of Disco. He returns with Damsels in Distress, a movie about a group of college students led by Greta Gerwig, who try and help their fellow students be all they can be in terms of relationships and style. The films reviews are very good, but below the 80% positive level. That said, it has better than average buzz, so perhaps that will help. Damsels in Distress opens tonight at the Sunshine Cinema and Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York City, as well as the Arclight Cinemas and The Landmark in Los Angeles and could do well enough to expand.

The Hunter - Reviews
Willem Dafoe stars as Martin, a mercenary hired to hunt a rare Tasmanian Tiger, long since thought to be extinct. He poses as a college professor to blend in and stays with a local family while he looks for signs of the creature. His plan works at first, but as he becomes close to the family he's staying with, complications arise. This film has an amazing cast, which includes Willem Dafoe, Sam Neil, and others, while its reviews are very good. On the other hand, it is the wrong genre for limited release and previously opened on Video on Demand. I don't have high hopes for the film, but its home market numbers should be stronger. The Hunter opens tonight in four theaters, two in New York City and one in both Austin, Texas, and Bethesda, Maryland.

Keyhole - Reviews
The lastest film from Guy Maddin, who has previously made such films as Saddest Music in the World, Brand Upon the Brain!, and My Winnipeg. His films tend to earn good reviews, but they are strange enough to prevent mainstream appeal. Avant Garde is a good way to describe this movie. Keyhole opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Player Hating: A Love Story - Reviews
A documentary about a Hip Hop artist hoping his music can get him and his family out of the ghetto. The film is earning excellent reviews, but there are not a lot reviews, which suggests the buzz is not very strong. Player Hating: A Love Story opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Surviving Progress - Reviews
A documentary about progress, and how it is sometimes bad for society. By being able to produce so much for so little money, we've used up so much of the Earth's resources that the whole system is bound to collapse, if we don't change soon. There is good news: the wealth inequity might cause destructive riots before the environmental collapse kills us. Yeah, it's a depressing movie. That said, it is an important movie and one that is earning excellent reviews. Surviving Progress opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City before expanding on the 20th.

We Have a Pope - Reviews
A satire about the selection of a new pope, who turns out to be unprepared for the job and in need of a therapist. The film's reviews are mixed and I don't think it will find an audience in limited release. We Have a Pope opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

We the Party - Reviews
Mario Van Peebles writes, directs, and has a role in We the Party, a film about life in an ethnically diverse high school in Los Angeles. The reviews are unfortunately very negative and the movie has little chance of finding an audience in limited release. We the Party opens in a handful of theaters, mostly in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Hunter, Damsels in Distress, Habemus Papam, ATM, L'assaut, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, Surviving Progress, Keyhole, We the Party, Player Hating: A Love Story