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Limited Releases: The Master of Limited Releases

September 14th, 2012

There are ten films on this week's list, including three that are opening in more than 100 theaters each. There are also three films earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Amazing, one of these films is in both groups: Arbitrage. I think the theater count will hurt it more than it will help, so it might struggle on the per theater chart. On the other hand, The Master could have incredible success.

10 Years - Reviews
This is Jamie Linden's directorial debut, while he has previous written two screenplays. It's an ensemble comedy set at a 10th anniversary high school reunion. That's not even close to being original. However, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive and with an impressive cast, it might find an audience in theaters. 10 Years opens tonight in three theaters, split between New York City and Los Angeles.

Airborne - No Reviews
A plane takes off in a storm, but shortly afterward, the passengers learn the pilots have been killed, and soon they start dying as well. It's the wrong genre for a limited release and there are no reviews. Both of those are really bad signs. Airborne opens tonight in 12 theaters, which is a bit too many for a film like this.

Arbitrage - Reviews
Richard Gere stars as a Wall Street hedge fund manager whose empire is overextended and if he doesn't sell soon, it will collapse. He's trying to keep that fact hidden from the bank interested in buying his firm, as well as his wife and daughter. He's also trying to keep them in the dark about his mistress. It's topical, it has a great cast, and overwhelmingly positive reviews. It is also opening in nearly 200 theaters. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear the theater count will sink this film.

Bangkok Revenge - No Reviews
This film is the wrong genre for limited release and it has no reviews online. It has almost no chance of being a hit in theaters, but it could thrive on the home market. Bangkok Revenge opens tonight in 19 theaters.

Barfi - No Reviews
A Bollywood film about a love triangle between a partially deaf man and the woman he falls in love with. Her family pressures her to marry someone "normal" so she can have a more normal life. However, years later their paths cross, but he is now in love with another woman. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is usually a bad sign, and the film is opening in 132 theaters, which is usually way too many. However, Bollywood films don't play by the usual rules, so there's no telling how well it will do.

Liberal Arts - Reviews
Josh Radnor writes, directs, and stars in this movie, which is about a man in his 30s going through an early mid-life crisis / delayed adulthood. When he is invited to speak at his favorite college teacher's retirement and meets a sophomore student there, his life is reinvigorated. The reviews for this film are not bad, but they are not exactly good either. A Tomatometer score of 59% positive would be fine for a wide release, but that's probably not enough for a limited release. Liberal Arts opens tonight in four theaters, split between New York City and the Los Angeles area.

The Master - Reviews
A film about a strange cult that everyone knows is a thinly veiled take on Scientology. Given the organization's reputation for being litigious, I'm a little surprised this film got made. On the other hand, given the film's pedigree, I'm not surprised it is the most talked about film of the weekend. Its director and its three main stars have thirteen Oscar nominations between them, although only one win. Both numbers might increase by the time Awards Season wraps up. The Master opens tonight in five theaters, split between Los Angeles and New York City and is playing in 70mm format.

Snowman's Land - Reviews
A hitman is recovering from a job gone wrong when he and his friend are hired by an organized crime boss to protect his house, and his wife. This job sounds a lot simpler, but it also goes tragically wrong. Dark comedies are really hard to get right, because the change in tone is tricky. The early reviews suggest something went wrong here. Also, the genre rarely thrives is limited release, so that's another strike against it. Snowman's Land opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Step Up to the Plate - Buy from Amazon
A biopic of Michel and Sébastien Bras, filmed during the transition at the family's three-star restaurant from father to son. There's a lot of similarities between this movie and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Both are about three-star restaurants. Both about about sons following in their fathers' footsteps. However, this film is only earning 50% positive reviews, which will likely prove fatal. Step Up to the Plate opens tonight at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the Quad Cinema, both in New York City.

Stolen - Reviews
Can somebody pay Nicolas Cage's IRS bill, so he doesn't have to take every role offered to him and he can get back to making good movies. In the movie, he plays a former thief who is caught and sentenced to eight years in prison. When he gets out, he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. However, his former partner kidnaps her demanding his share of the loot from their last heist. Nic doesn't have it, so he has to steal $10 million more to get his daughter back. So far there are only two reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and they are both negative. Stolen is opening in 141 theaters and if it can top the Mendoza Line, the distributor should be happy.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, 10 Years, Arbitrage, The Master, Liberal Arts, Stolen, Entre les Bras, Elephant White, Barfi, Snowman’s Land