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Will Bad be the Best of the Limited Releases?

November 20th, 2009

Normally it is very hard for a limited release to score breakout success. On a typical weekend, none of the films opening in exclusive engagements go on to a real measure of mainstream success. However, this week there are three films that could be able to do just that: Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans, Broken Embraces, Red Cliff. It will be interesting to see which one manages to be the biggest of the three.

Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans - Reviews
Werner Herzog directs and Nicolas Cage stars in this pseudo-remake of Bad Lieutenant. When this project was first announced, there were some bad words spoken. I believe the director of the original, Abel Ferrara, said, "I wish these people die in Hell." (Don't you have to be dead to go to Hell?) Amazingly, this film is earning better reviews that the original earned and with the controversy around it, it has a reasonable chance at expanding. Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans opens tonight in 20 theaters, mostly in New York City and the Los Angeles area, but also in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and others.

Broken Embraces - Reviews
Pedro Almodovar's latest film, and his fourth with Penelope Cruz, which might be enough to get a lot of people interested in the movie, even if they know nothing else about it. Lluís Homar stars as a man who used to have two identities. He directed films under his real name, Mateo Blanco, while he wrote under a pseudonym, Harry Caine. However, after an accident left him without sight, he decided to "kill off" his real name and live his life as Harry Caine. The film is just on the 80% positive level normally associated with success on the limited release market, but with this star power, it should thrive. I don't think it will do as well as Volver, but it should hit a few milestones. Broken Embraces opens tonight in two theaters, the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Sunshine Cinema, both in New York City.

Fix - Reviews
A drama about a documentary film crew filming in Los Angeles. Reviews are only mixed at exactly 50% positive and it might be a little too "inside baseball" for the average moviegoer. Fix opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.

Invisible City - Review and Review
A Canadian documentary about the inner city of Toronto. There are only two reviews I've seen online, and they are both mixed. On the one hand, it's a subject worth exploring, but the two boys they follow don't seem to be able to rise above their environment, despite the actions of their mothers or teachers who try to help them. This makes it hard to watch for 75 minutes. Invisible City opens tonight in Toronto, Canada.

Kurbaan - No Reviews
The latest Indian film is opening this week and like most such films it has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It also has almost no chance at crossover appeal. Kurbaan opens tonight in 86 theaters, but that's likely as wide as it will go.

Mammoth - Reviews
Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams feature in this movie as husband and wife. The story takes place in New York, where they live, Thailand, where he's on an extended business trip, and the Philippians, where they maid is from, and whose family has to cope without her. The reviews are only mixed, which is never a good sign, but this is usually fatal for a limited release. Add in competition from Awards Season players, and this film could really struggle at the box office. Mammoth opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Missing Person - Reviews
Writer / director Noah Buschel's third film, but looking at the reviews it might be a step back for him. On the other hand, he was nominated for the Breakthrough Director Award at this year's Gotham Awards, so that could help the film at the box office. The Missing Person opens tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City.

Red Cliff - Reviews
John Woo's historical epic. This movie became the highest grossing Chinese film of all time, which is good news, because it was also one of the most expensive. Reviews have been excellent, and Woo has a history of box office success here, which makes this movie one of three films on this week's list that I expect to expand significantly over the coming weeks. Red Cliff opened in New York city on Wednesday and expands into more cities next Wednesday.

Until the Light Takes Us - Reviews
A Rockumentary. And not just a Rockumentary, but a Rockumentary about Black Metal. ... Norwegian Black Metal. I don't think there's a huge crossover audience between Norwegian Black Metal music and documentary films. Additionally, there's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment. It is positive, but the lack of reviews suggests a lack of buzz, which will likely hurt the film at the box office. Until the Light Takes Us opens tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz in Austin, Texas.

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Filed under: Limited Releases, Los abrazos rotos, Mammoth, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Red Cliff