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Flight of the Limited Releases

April 4th, 2008

It's hard to look at this week's list of limited releases and point to any of them and say, "That's this week's big hit." In fact, it is hard to find any films that have a better than 50/50 chance at serious expansion over the coming weeks.

Flight of the Red Balloon - Reviews
A remake of the Oscar winning French short film, Le Ballon Rouge. Remaking a film like this just seems like suicide, after all, it is the only short film to win an Oscar outside the short film categories, and there's almost no way this version will live up to the original. It is still getting good reviews, but not great reviews, and limited releases generally need great reviews to survive the tight competition. Flight of the Red Balloon opens tonight in two theaters, the IFC Center and the Paris Theatre, both in New York City.

Jellyfish - Reviews
The lives of three very different women intertwine in this movie from Isreal. The film is structured very much like Crash or Magnolia or any number of other films. This sense of familiarity is hurting the film's reviews, which will hurt it at the box office. Jellyfish opens tonight in 4 theaters, all in New York City.

Meet Bill - Reviews
At 31 theaters, this is the widest release of the week, and it has more star power than most limited releases have, which should give it an advantage when it comes to out-grossing the other films on this week's list. At least in terms of raw dollars. However, with almost no reviews, and those it does have almost all negative, so it is unlikely to land in the upper reaches of the per theater charts this weekend. Aaron Eckhart stars as the titular Bill, a doormat of a man who has no spine. In the movie we are supposed root for him to rise up, however, most critics are saying he is just too pathetic to cheer for. Meet Bill opens tonight in more than 30 locations, mostly in Missouri, where it was filmed.

My Blueberry Nights - Reviews
Wong Kar-wai, who has garnered quite a following here with films like 2046, makes his English language debut with this film. The road trip flick stars Norah Jones, who is making her acting debut in a role that war written specifically for her. Sadly, the reviews are only mixed, but this is not the singer's fault as the biggest complaint is about the banality of the script. My Blueberry Nights opens tonight in 5 theaters, mostly in New York City.

Sex and Death 101 - Reviews
A black comedy written and directed by Daniel Waters, who previous wrote Heathers, which is a classic of the genre. However, he also wrote Hudson Hawk and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Sadly, this film appears to be in the latter category and is earning some of the worst reviews of the week. To make matters worse, as a genre, black comedies are difficult films to market at the best of times and it is unlikely this movie will thrive. Sex and Death 101 opens tonight in three theaters, one in New York City and the other two in the Los Angeles area.

Tuya's Marriage - Reviews
The latest from screenwriter Wei Lu, who wrote such films as Farewell My Concubine. This is the screenwriter's first film in a decade, which should draw in some moviegoers, but there's not a lot of hype surrounding the film. It could do well with some art house crowds, but will have trouble expanding. Tuya's Marriage opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Water Lilies - Reviews
I've often commented on how there is a lack of strong roles for women in movies and how this has extended to films about homosexuality. While there has been an explosion in Gay Cinema, Lesbian Cinema has lagged behind. Fortunately, movies like this might help change that. Not only is the French film earning very good reviews, but it was also earned three César nominations. It is a niche market film, and a foreign language niche market film, but it should do well among its target audience. Water Lilies opens tonight at the Sunshine Cinema in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, My Blueberry Nights, Le voyage du ballon rouge, Jellyfish, Tuyade Hunshi, La Naissance des Pieuvres, Meet Bill, Sex and Death 101