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Limited Releases are Killer

March 11th, 2011

Quite a busy week for limited releases with a number of films opening, including several that are earning excellent reviews. A few of these, like Jane Eyre and Certified Copy, might even do well enough to find some measure of mainstream success.

3 Backyards - Reviews
The story of three families from the same suburb whose stories intertwine. It's writer / director Eric Mendelsohn's sophomore effort, but it has been more than a decade since his first film, Judy Berlin, came out. (Both films star Edie Falco.) The reviews are good, but not great, and it might have trouble finding an audience in limited release. 3 Backyards opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Bay Rong - Reviews
The widest limited release on this week's list at just nine theaters. This Vietnamese martial arts movie is about a woman who hires a hitman to help her complete some tasks given to her by a crime boss who kidnapped her daughter. So far there's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, it is positive, but the fact that there's only one review is likely more important when it comes to its box office chances. Bay Rong opens tonight in nine theaters nationwide.

Black Death - Reviews
Set during the height of the Black Plague, Sean Bean stars as Ulric, a monk sent to investigate a village seemingly untouched by the disease. On the very surface, it sounds a little too much like Season of the Witch. I'm not saying that perception is fair, but it could have an effect on the box office. Also, its reviews are just below the level normally associated with success in limited release, while it might be the wrong genre for art house crowds. Given its reviews, it should find an audience, but it might take till the home market to do so. Black Death opens tonight in three theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.

Certified Copy - Reviews
Juliette Binoche star in the latest from writer / director Abbas Kiarostami. It's a dialogue driven film co-starring William Shimell as an author who meets Juliette's character while on tour to promote his book. It's earning excellent reviews and there's some talk it could be the biggest hit on this week's list. Certified Copy opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Desert of Forbidden Art - Buy from Amazon
During the Stalin regime in the Soviet Union, art that was considered unacceptable to the powers that be was destroyed. This documentary is about Igor Savitsky, who helped rescue more than 40,000 works of art and ensure that the world could see them today. One of the best-reviewed films of the week and worth checking out for fans of the genre or of art history in general. The Desert of Forbidden Art opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Elektra Luxx - Reviews
The sequel to Women in Trouble, which was not a good movie, nor was it a box office hit. Since this film's reviews are not significantly different, I'm not expecting it will be better at the box office. Perhaps its home market sales will be enough to cover its expenses. Elektra Luxx opens tonight in four theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Cambridge.

Harvest - Reviews
Limited releases live and die by their reviews. They generally don't have the advertising budget, so bad reviews can be fatal, but no reviews is not much better. This film is opening with no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It is also opening at the Living Room Theaters in Boca Raton, Florida, which is an unusual market for a premiere.

Jane Eyre - Reviews
One of the best-reviewed releases of the week, and it is also the kind of film that is tailor-made for art houses. Costume dramas based on classic novels are so associated with success in limited release that my only question is, "Why wasn't this released during Awards Season?" Jane Eyre opens tonight in four theaters, split evenly between New York City and the Los Angeles area.

Kill the Irishman - Reviews
In Cleveland in 1976, two organized crime families went to war, one run by the Italians and the other by the Irish. The film stars Ray Stevenson as the titular Irishman, and there are a number of recognizable names in the film. On the other hand, the reviews are just shy of the overall positive level and well below that associated with success in limited release. Maybe it will find an audience, but it will likely have to wait until the home market to do so. Kill The Irishman opens tonight in five theaters, including three in the Cleveland area.

Making the Boys - Reviews
Made in 2009, I thought it was released in 2010, but it appears to finally be getting its theatrical release this week. Its reviews are perfect so far, so it looks like it was worth the wait and fans of documentaries or gay cinema should check it out. Making the Boys opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Monogamy - Reviews
A wedding photographer takes a second job to raise extra money before his own wedding. This job has him following his subjects while taking candid photos. When one of his clients has him follow her while she gets into sexy situations, he worries what his fiancee would think. Reviews are only mixed, which is usually fatal for a limited release. Monogamy opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, Jane Eyre, Kill the Irishman, Making the Boys, Black Death, Copie conforme, Harvest, 3 Backyards, The Desert of Forbidden Art , Monogamy, Elektra Luxx, Bay Rong