Limited Releases: There's Always a Silver Lining

There's good news and bad news this week when it comes to limited releases, and both focus on the same film: Silver Linings Playbook. At the beginning of the month, this was one wide release I was really looking forward to and I thought it had a real chance of being a sleeper hit. However, it was moved up a week and is rolling out in limited release this week before expanding to select cities next week. It should be the biggest hit this week, but expanding wide is never an easy task. There are a few other limited releases this week that have earned some measure of pre-release buzz, but none of them have earned reviews to match.

Anna Karenina - Reviews
There was a lot of talk about this film being a potential Awards Season contender. Given its current Tomatometer Score, that seems unlikely. Keira Knightley stars as the titular Anna Karenina, who is married to Alexei Karenin but falls in love with Count Vronsky. It is an ideal film for Awards Season, but its reviews are below the level normally associated with success in limited release and its is well below the level associated with Awards Season success. It might pick up Oscar nods for technical categories, on the other hand. Anna Karenina opens tonight in 16 theaters nationwide.

Barrymore - Reviews
A biopic about film legend John Barrymore starring another film legend, Christopher Plummer. The film's reviews are good, but not great. This is true of so many limited releases this week that it is hard to imagine any of them will find breakout success.Barrymore opened on Thursday at the Angelika Film Center in New York City and the Sundance Cinemas in Los Angeles.

Buffalo Girls - Reviews
A documentary about child Muay Thai prizefighters in Thailand. The film follows two 8 year-old girls as the fight for championships, and the money that comes with it. It's an interesting topic, but the critics haven't been too kind to the movie, because it seems to shy away from the important questions. For instance, what are the long term health effects of this kind of fighting? I think it is pretty clear the answer would be negative. Buffalo Girls opened on Wednesday at the IFC Center in New York City.

Cafe de flore - Reviews
Two stories set in two different time lines. Back in the 1960s, a single mother raises her son, who has Down Syndrome and her son is in love with a girl, who also has Down Syndrome. In the modern day, a man is torn between his new girlfriend and his ex-wife. The film's reviews are good, but not great. Additionally, it is a foreign language film, so its chances of expanding outside of the art house circuit is even weaker. Cafe de flore opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Texas.

Hitler's Children - Reviews
A documentary about the descendants of the leaders of the Nazi movement. This is certainly an interesting topic, but the reviews are only good and not great. Additionally, it is harder for a documentary to have breakout success in limited release. Hitler's Children opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan - Reviews
A Bollywood film opening in more than 100 theaters. That's not too surprising, but it actually has reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. These movies are usually aimed at such a niche market that they are rarely reviewed by mainstream critics. Not only does it have some reviews, but all four are positive. Then again, it is really hard to predict the success of these films. Jab Tak Hai Jaan opened on Tuesday in 161 theaters.

Price Check - Reviews
Parker Posey was at one time the Queen of Indie films, until she started to get more studio films. This film is closer to her roots, and she is earning praise for her performance. However, the overall reviews are merely good and not great. Usually limited releases need great reviews to thrive. Perhaps the presence of Posey will help. Price Check opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Silver Linings Playbook - Reviews
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as two people dealing with mental health issues who find each other and fall in love. That doesn't sound like an Oscar-worthy film, but its reviews are currently 91% positive and early buzz suggests Jennifer Lawrence is the early favorite for Best Actress Oscar. It is earning the best Tomatometer Score out of all releases this week, at least out of the films with five or more reviews, and it is also earning the best buzz. Let's hope it also leads the way on the Per Theater Chart. Silver Linings Playbook opens tonight in 15 theaters before expanding next week to 420.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2012-11-16