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Limited Releases Have the Answer

July 24th, 2009

Summer is starting to come to a close on the limited release front, just as it is for wide releases. There are few releases in total, none of which seem destined to big hits theatrically, but two or three of them could find more receptive audiences on the home market.

The Answer Man - Reviews
The debut for writer / director John Hindman, but I'm confident in saying there is zero chance that this film will do well at the box office. First of all, it's a romantic comedy, and those almost never do well in limited release. Secondly, its reviews are well below the acceptable level for a limited release and are weak compared to the genre average. (Although, in the movie's defense, most critics are complaining about the formulaic nature of the script. Have they not seen any romantic comedies in the past? They are all formulaic.) Finally, it has already been released on Video on Demand, and I don't know of a single film that started out on VOD and then went on to have real success theatrically. I'm still interested in seeing the movie, mainly due to supporting cast members Kat Dennings and Olivia Thirbly, but I will have to wait till the home market. It wasn't offered via VOD in my area, and there's almost no chance it will expand theatrically. The Answer Man opens tonight in five theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City and Philadelphia, where it was filmed.

How to be a Serial Killer - No Reviews
A horror comedy opening in limited release with zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. There are a few reviews online that are mostly positive, but mostly from genre critics. The lack of "mainstream" reviews means there is a lack of buzz for this movie. Also, it's just the wrong genre to survive in limited release. That said, the "Serial Killer as Life Coach" approach this film takes could help it do well, while it should prove to be a bigger hit on the home market. How to be a Serial Killer opens tonight at the Gaslamp 15 in San Diego before coming out on DVD in October.

In the Loop - Reviews
Political satire about the Iraq War. That's strike one, two, and three when it comes to box office chances. At least it would be, except the reviews are exceptional, easily the best of the week. It could still be a little "too British" to find an audience here, but it could surprise. In the Loop is the widest limited release of the week, opening in 8 theaters in major cities nationwide (New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.).

Shrink - Reviews
An impressive cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Saffron Burrows, Gore Vidal, Keke Palmer, and plenty of others. However, the cast appears to be the most impressive part of the movie. It's a Hollywood introspective movie, which is a sub-genre that usually fails, and when these movies fail, they usually fail hard. The things people on the inside find fascinating about Hollywood are not the same things that the average moviegoer will find fascinating. Add in a plot that strains believability and far too much melodrama and this is not a movie that seems to have what it takes to attract an audience. Shrink opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

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Filed under: Limited Releases, In the Loop, Shrink, How to be a Serial Killer, The Answer Man