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Limited and VOD Releases: Shanghaied

October 2nd, 2015

A Christmas Horror Story

It is a bad week for limited releases. Shanghai is the biggest release on this week's list, but that just means it is opening in way too many theaters to thrive. The film I'm most interested in is A Christmas Horror Story, but I do have a well-known pro-Canada bias.

A Christmas Horror Story - Reviews
Video on Demand
A Canadian horror anthology movie set during Christmas and featuring William Shatner in the wrap-around story. This film is earning excellent reviews, better than some of the Oscar-bait movies. However, it is the wrong genre for limited release and it is playing on VOD, so its box office chances are nearly zero.

Freeheld - Reviews
A film about the groundbreaking LGBT rights cause fought for by Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree. Laurel Hester was a cop and when she was diagnosed with cancer, she wanted to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, like she would have been able to do if she married a man. This is the type of movie you see a lot this time of year, as dramas based on real life stories tend to be rewarded by Awards Season voters. However, while the critics are praising the performances, they are attacking the script for following too many Oscar-bait clichés.

He Named Me Malala - Reviews
A documentary about girls' education activist, Malala Yousafzai. The reviews are good, but not great, as many critics are complaining that it is a Hagiography, a shallow Hagiography. Unfettered praise of Malala Yousafzai makes complete sense, but a shallow documentary is more troubling. He Named Me Malala opens tonight in four theaters, split evenly between New York City and the Los Angeles area, before expanding dramatically next week. Check out the official site for more details.

Labyrinth of Lies - Reviews
A German film set in the 1950s. It focuses on a new prosecutor who learns of an Auschwitz guard and wants to prosecute him. However, his superiors don't want dig up this particular part of German history. The reviews are good and the subject matter could help it on the art house circuit. Labyrinth of Lies opened on Wednesday in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles, with planned expansions over the coming weeks. Check out the official site for more details.

Northern Soul - Reviews
A British film about the 1970s invasion of Northern Soul, a style of music that came from and took off in certain parts of the U.K. It focuses on two DJs who were looking for fame and to travel to the U.S. on the strength of their music, but fame has a price. The reviews are good enough that it has a chance to find an audience in limited release. However, I'm not sure enough people here remember Northern Soul to help drive ticket sales. Northern Soul opens tonight in ten theaters in select cities nationwide. Check out the official site for more details.

Partisan - Reviews
An Australian film about a young boy, Jeremy Chabriel, who has grown up in a cult. When he begins to question their leader, Vincent Cassel, he is put on a dangerous path. The reviews are currently just below the overall positive level, which is generally fatal for a limited release. Partisan opens tonight in a dozen theaters in select cities nationwide. Check out the official site for more details.

Shanghai - Reviews
This film was made in 2010, but despite having a Hollywood cast, it is only coming out in limited release now. Want to know why? Check out the reviews. They are a mere 5% positive. Now it is opening in just over 100 theaters, which is way too many for a limited release.

Talvar - Reviews
A Bollywood film. There's nothing unusual about that. However, there are reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is very unusual. Additionally, both of the reviews are positive, which could be a great sign for the film's box office chances. Talvar opens in the usual places. Go to Now Running for more details.

Taxi Tehran - Reviews
A documentary made by Jafar Panahi. He drove around his native Tehran in a taxi picking up passengers and asking them questions about the world. The reviews are amazing and this film could find a receptive audience in art house theaters. Expanding significantly will likely be out of reach, as documentaries rarely have breakout success.

Filed under: Limited Releases, Shanghai, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens, Northern Soul, Taxi, He Named Me Malala, Freeheld, Partisan, A Christmas Horror Story, Talvar, Vincent Cassel, Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, William Shatner, Jafar Panahi, Jeremy Chabriel, Malala Yousafzai