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Limited Releases Live for a Weekend

March 7th, 2008

Big list of limited releases, including one that's opening so wide it could reach the top ten and another that could expand wide later on. I wouldn't put money on either film doing that, but there's certainly a legitimate chance.

Bar Starz - No Reviews
A comedy about a guy trying to win an internship to Bar Starz, which is the people who personify cool. (Although I didn't get that appearance from the trailer.) The film is opening in many theaters, too many theaters, and, without enough buzz to fill them, it is likely it will have a poor opening per theater average and never expand past 44 theaters.

Black and White - No Reviews
The latest Indian release brought to us by Eros Entertainment, which has had more than a few niche market hits over the last few years. Like most such films, there's no buzz, no reviews, and little crossover appeal. That said, it should do well with its target audience and earn quite a bit in its 30 theaters.

Blindsight - Reviews
A documentary about six blind teenagers trying to climb one of the peaks of the Himalayas. The filmmakers are obviously aiming for inspirational and manage to hit the mark, which is a lot more difficult that it sounds, but it is also a gripping film in other ways. Blindsight opened on Wednesday at the IFC Center in New York City.

CJ7 - Reviews
Stephen Chow has been working in Hong Kong for a long time and is one of the biggest stars there. Here, he is just starting to build a fanbase with Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, the latter of which was a breakout hit. However, it seems this film will be a step back, both with critics and at the box office. So far, the film is earning a Tomatometer score of below 50% positive, while the family friendly nature of the film is not likely to win over many art house moviegoers, and that could prevent it from expanding wide enough to reach its target audience. CJ7 opens tonight in 19 theaters, mostly in New York City and Los Angeles.

Fighting for Life - Reviews
A documentary about army medics. The film is earning good reviews, but it does deal with the current Iraq war and that has been the kiss of death lately. Fighting for Life opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Girls Rock! - Reviews
A documentary about a camp that uses Rock'n'Roll to help girls overcome self-esteem issues, among other problems, concentrating on four girls ages 8 to 18. Hollywood tends to have trouble creating fiction that deals with women on an emotional level, so it is great to see it done here. Worth checking out, but I'm not as enthusiastic about its chances at expanding. Girls Rock! opens tonight in seven theaters, about half of which are in the Los Angeles area.

Last Stop for Paul - Reviews
A slice of experimental filmmaking as the two filmmakers, Neil Mandt and Marc Carter, had no script, no cast, no crew and just traveled picking locations and actors on the fly. This alone should draw in fans of art house cinema, and the film should earn good word-of-mouth, although perhaps not good enough to expand significantly. Last Stop for Paul opens tonight in two theaters, both in the Los Angeles area.

Married Life - Reviews
Chris Cooper stars as Harry Allen, a man about to leave his wife for his mistress only to have his plans complicated when his best friend sets his eyes on her as well. The film is only earning mixed reviews with some critics complaining that the movie doesn't bring anything new to the genre, while others are saying the performances are not inspired. It has so far failed to reach the overall positive level, which is usually a deathblow to limited release and even with an impressive cast, it is unlikely to expand too far. Married Life opens tonight in 9 theaters, some in New York City, the rest in the Los Angeles area.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Reviews
The widest limited release of the week. In fact it is opening so wide it could reach the top ten. Frances McDormand stars as the titular character, a fired London governess who finds herself working for an American movie star, played by Amy Adams. The film is both a romantic comedy and a period piece and certainly has the charm to find an audience. That said, it is opening in 535 theaters, which is way too many for a limited release and far too few for a wide release. This awkward release schedule could be its downfall.

Paranoid Park - Reviews
The latest from Gus Van Sant, who has made some interesting cinematic experiments over the years. This film is likely to remind a lot of people of Elephant, and the reviews are slightly better. However, it still suffers from some of the same flaws. For instance, the movie suffers from a pacing problem and the non-actors are not experienced enough to carry the film, especially in lead roles. Paranoid Park opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center and the Lincoln Plaza, both in New York City.

La Rondine - Reviews
One of the wider releases of the week is from 1958. It is a performance of Giacomo Puccini's opera, La Rondine, a.k.a. The Swallow, by Rosanna Carteri and Giuseppe Gismondo. Should be a hit with fans of the composer, but with an opening theater count of 120, I'm not expecting much on the per theater charts.

Snow Angels - Reviews
The interwoven story of three relationships in various stages are at the center of this ensemble drama. There are some great performances here, and the overall reviews are strong; however, they are not strong enough to suspect it will be able to expand wide, especially with the massive competition this week. Snow Angels opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

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Filed under: Limited Releases, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Married Life, Paranoid Park, Snow Angels, CJ7, Girls Rock!, Blindsight, La Rondine, Fighting for Life, Last Stop for Paul, Bar Starz