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Limited Releases: Not a Big Week for Limited Releases

May 8th, 2015

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

This week's list of limited releases isn't exactly short, but it is short on potential hits. Maggie and 5 Flights Up both have strong casts, but are playing in potentially too many theaters and also on Video on Demand. Noble is earning some of the best reviews, but its high theater count and lack of star power could hurt it. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is also earning great reviews, but it is one of the rare documentaries that is taking the Video on Demand route.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared - Reviews
A Swedish film about a man who decides to have an adventure, at the age 100. The reviews are only good and not great, while it is playing on Video on Demand. (It is apparently not on Amazon.) Foreign-language films rarely have breakout success, while its reviews suggest it won't find an audience with art house aficionados.

5 Flights Up - Reviews
A couple bought a small apartment in a bad part of New York many, many years ago. Since then the neighborhood has become a trendy place to stay and their apartment is worth a fortune. However, when they try to sell it, a rumor of a terrorist plot causes chaos. The cast is great, but the reviews are mixed. Additionally, it is playing in 87 theaters, which is probably too many, and it is also on Video on Demand, which further hurts its box office chances.

The D-Train - Reviews
The biggest limited release of the week, at least in terms of its theater count. The reviews are just below 50% positive and the buzz isn't strong, but the film is opening in over 1,000 theaters. At the amount, it only needs to avoid the Mendoza Line to get into the top ten. I'm not convinced it will be able to do that.

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story - Reviews
A documentary about Carroll Spinney, who has been playing Big Bird on Sesame Street for longer than I've been alive. The reviews are good; however, it is playing on Video on Demand, which is unusual for a documentary. I Am Big Bird opened on Wednesday and is currently playing at the IFC Center in New York City.

Maggie - Reviews
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a father living through a zombie plague. Abigail Breslin plays the titular Maggie, his daughter, who is also one of the infected. He tries to protect her as she slowly turns into a zombie. The reviews are mixed with most critics praising the performances and the overall ideas, but complaining that the execution is mixed. Its box office potential, on the other hand, is much, much worse than its reviews would indicate. Firstly, it is opening in 79 theaters, which is way too many for this type of release. Secondly, it is playing on Video on Demand. However, and this is important, there is a change in the market and for many limited releases, the theatrical numbers are an afterthought. Unless a film is aiming to win Oscars and can expand at least semi-wide, the Video on Demand numbers will probably be a lot more important than its box office. In fact, we're starting to see movies with healthy budgets ($10 million or more) being made specifically for Video on Demand, bypassing theaters entirely.

Noble - Reviews
An Irish film about Christina Noble, who left Ireland with almost no money to travel to Vietnam to help the children there. This is one of the best-reviewed films of the week and films about inspirational stories based on real life events tend to do well in limited release. On the other hand, Noble is opening in more than a dozen markets, which might be too many. Check out the official site for more details.

Playing it Cool - Reviews
A romantic comedy opening in limited release. This isn't an uncommon event, but it is very rare for films of this genre to do well when they are released in limited release. Additionally, the reviews are bad, even for the genre. And finally, it is playing on Video on Demand.

Saint Laurent - Reviews
A biography of Saint Laurent, starring Gaspard Ulliel. I heard quite a bit of pre-release buzz for this film, but its reviews are just above 50% positive. The subject matter might help it find an audience this weekend, but its chances of expanding are nearly zero. Saint Laurent opens tonight in four theaters split between New York City and Los Angeles.

The Seven Five - Reviews
A documentary about the largest corruption case involving the New York Police Department and the cop at the center of it. The reviews are good, but right on the border between merely good and good enough to thrive in limited release. The Seven Five opens tonight in two theaters, both in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Saint Laurent, 5 Flights Up, Maggie, Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann, Playing It Cool, The D Train, Noble, The Seven Five, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, Abigail Breslin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carroll Spinney, Gaspard Ulliel