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Hoping Limited Releases Don't Go Away

June 5th, 2009

The latest attempt at an independent sleeper hit opens this week with Away We Go. Sadly, it doesn't have reviews that inspire confidence, but hopefully it can beat expectations. That's the biggest release of the week, but there are also a couple of documentaries that are worth checking out.

The Art of Being Straight - Reviews
A comedy about college and sexual identity. Mixed reviews won't help, nor will the niche market. The Art of Being Straight opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Away We Go - Reviews
The biggest limited release of the week, at least when it comes to potential. There's a lot of talent on both sides of the camera, but the reviews so far have been just mixed and seem to be settling just below the overall positive level. It already has several scheduled expansions over the next few weeks, and while it could crack $10,000 on the per theater chart during its opening weekend, I don't know how well it will perform as it expands. It could be the big sleeper hit of the summer, or it could fizzle out in short order. Away We Go opens tonight in four theaters in New York City and the Los Angeles area with expansions throughout the month, and beyond, if it can muster the momentum.

Downloading Nancy - Reviews
Maria Bello stars as an unhappy woman who hires a hitman to kill her, but the two fall in love. She gives an impressive performance, but the film itself is likely too depressing to find an audience, even on the art house circuit. A film doesn't need a happy endings to be worth watching, but if it is too dark, it becomes a test of endurance to sit through. Downloading Nancy opens tonight in six theaters, mostly in the Laemmle chain in the Los Angeles area.

Herb & Dorothy - Reviews
A documentary about two average people, who just happen to collect art. For decades they bought art from little known and under-appreciated artists until they filled their small, one-bedroom apartment. ... And then they gave it away to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and then they started again. The film is earning perfect reviews so far, and it is the kind of subject that should draw in art house moviegoers. Herb & Dorothy opens tonight in two theaters in New York City, the Cinema Village and the Beekman Theatre.

Seraphine - Reviews
A biopic of the French artist, Séraphine Louis, who came into prominence early in the 20th century before declining mental health cut her career short. Reviews are excellent, and this is the type of film is the kind that can thrive in limited release. Seraphine opens tonight in six theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City.

Tennessee - Reviews
The widest limited release of the week, but it is only earning mixed reviews. Reviews that are 55% positive are hardly terrible, and would be good for most wide releases, but it's not enough in the tougher limited release market. The road trip flick, which stars Mariah Carey, among others, could find an audience, but likely not before the home market. Tennessee opens tonight in 16 theaters in select cities, which is another strike against it.

Waterlife - Reviews
A Canadian documentary about the Great Lakes narrated by Gord Downie, lead vocalist of The Tragically Hip. Having a musician narrate the movie could explain the huge amount of music, which many would consider a selling point, but some might think is a distraction. Waterlife opens tonight in Toronto before expanding into Vancouver in a couple of weeks.

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Filed under: Limited Releases, Away We Go, Seraphine, Downloading Nancy, Tennessee