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Limited Releases Looking for the Way to the Top Ten

January 21st, 2011

There are a large number of limited releases this week, including a few that are opening in a large number of theaters. One might even sneak its way into the top ten, as The Way Back is opening in more than 600 theaters. It is also possible that we could have an Oscar winner on this week's list, as Incendies is on the short list of nine films up for Best Foreign Language Film.

Applause - Reviews
A formerly famous actress tries to make a comeback while dealing with her alcoholism. This film is earning excellent reviews, among the best on this week's list. Unfortunately, with the Oscar short list for foreign language film released yesterday, it might be overshadowed, especially since fellow Danish film, Haevnen, a.k.a., In a Better World, was among the nine films announced. Applause opens tonight in five theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

The Company Men - Reviews
When this movie was pushed back from an October release to a December release, I thought this was great news, as it indicated the studio was positioning it to be an Awards Season contender. Then when it was pushed back again until January, those hopes evaporated. Given its reviews, it was unlikely that it was ever going to be an Awards Season hopeful. That's not to say the film is bad; in fact, its reviews are better than a lot of wide releases earn. But Oscar worthy? No. Now it's opening in more than 100 theaters, which is far too many for a limited release, and it will likely struggle to find an audience during what could be a short stay in theaters.

Dhobi Ghat, a.k.a. Mumbai Diaries - Reviews
An Indian film opening in a massive number of theaters. So far there's nothing unique about that. But it's opening with a significant number of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Usually these films have such niche appeal that mainstream critics don't even review them. Could this mean this film has the potential to earn mainstream success? Hopefully. Its reviews are nearly 80% positive, which is close to the level normally associated with success in limited release, but it still has some pretty major obstacles ahead of it, including its theater count. Mumbai Diaries opens tonight in 79 theaters, which is high for most limited releases. Its niche market will likely come out and support it, while its chances with art house crowds and multiplex moviegoers is less certain.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance - Reviews
The latest film in the Evangelion franchise, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. It is very popular in its native Japan, but like most anime, it only has niche market appeal here. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance opens tonight in more than a dozen theaters in select cities nationwide.

Fathers & Sons - Review
This Canadian film is the follow-up to the award-winning Mothers & Daughters. (Next year the director, Carl Bessai, is releasing a film called Sisters & Brothers.) There are not many reviews online, but the ones I've seen have been very positive and fans of ensemble / anthology storytelling will certainly want to check it out. Fathers & Sons opens tonight at the Cineplex Odeon International Village in Vancouver, Canada, and the 7:30 p.m. showing tonight and the 1:30 p.m. showing tomorrow have special events associated with them.

Hanyo, a.k.a. The Housemaid - Reviews
A Korean film about a young woman hired by a rich family to take care of their young daughter and the very pregnant wife. But when she is seduced by the husband, and becomes pregnant herself, she learns just what these people are willing to do to keep their happy family together. This film was a solid hit in its native market, but with reviews are are barely above the overall positive level, it might not have what it takes to find an audience here. At least theatrically; it could find one on the home market. The Housemaid opens tonight at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the IFC Center, both in New York City.

Incendies - Reviews
After opening in Quebec in September, this Canadian film opens in the rest of Canada, and the timing couldn't be better. Yesterday it was announced that this film was one of nine on the short list for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and the five nominations will be announced next week. By the time it opens in the United States in April, it could be an Oscar winner.

The Way Back - Reviews
Not too long ago, some were thinking this could be an Oscar contender; in fact, it had an Oscar-qualifying run at the end of the year. However, while its reviews are good for a wide release, I'm not sure they are good enough to thrive in limited release and they are definitely not Oscar-worthy. Worse yet, the film is opening in the dreaded "Select Theaters" level of release. Too many theaters for a targeted ad campaign, but too few to justify a nationwide campaign. It would only need to make about $3 million to reach the top ten, which is possible, but missing the Mendoza Line is just as likely. The Way Back opens tonight in 650 theaters nationwide.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Company Men, The Way Back, Applause, Incendies, Hanyo, Evangerion shin gekijôban: Ha, Dhobi Ghat