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Limited Releases: Looking for the Perfect Limited Release

April 11th, 2014

Perfect Sisters poster

This weekend is almost as busy for limited releases as last week, and on the plus side, there are a handful of films that are worth checking out. Only Lovers Left Alive and Joe are both earning great reviews. On the other hand, Only Lovers Left Alive is probably too "Art House" to thrive, while Joe is opening too wide and on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are also limited. Dancing in Jaffa is earning perfect reviews, but documentaries rarely have breakout success. Finally, Disco Singh could be a surprise hit, as it could be on track to break records in its native India.

Bhoothnath Returns - No Reviews
A sequel to Bhoothnath, a Bollywood movie about an inept ghost who is a pariah in the afterlife, because he was so bad at haunting that he made ghosts look bad. Now he's back on Earth to prove he can be scary, but instead gets mixed up helping a poor boy and taking down a corrupt politician. Like most similar movies, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is hard to judge the movie. The original opened with a per theater average of just over $5,000 in 64 theaters, so it will be interesting to see if this film can top that.

Cuban Fury - Reviews
Nick Frost stars as a former child dancer who has to find a way to get back onto the dance floor and back into life. The film has a great cast, but only mixed reviews. A lot of critics are complaining that the film is far too predictable and simply no funny enough to work. Cuban Fury opens tonight in 79 theaters, which is likely too many to thrive.

Dancing in Jaffa - Reviews
A documentary about a ballroom dancing instructor who returns to his home town in Israel and teaches a dance class to a group of 10-year olds, some of whom are Palestinian and some of whom are Jewish. The film's reviews are so far 100% perfect and this is a subject matter that could find an audience in limited release. Dancing in Jaffa opens tonight in two theaters in New York City with planned showings in many more places in the coming weeks and months. Check out the official site for more details.

Disco Singh - Reviews
Busy week for Bollywood films. This film is about a man forced by a local crime boss to pretend to be his daughter's boyfriend... I think. There are no reviews online and the trailer didn't exactly explain things very well. (It is not in English, which is part of the problem.) I've read some news articles saying it could become the biggest Punjabi film of all time and it is opening very wide. In fact, it is playing in my home town. (That's not too big of a surprise, as there is a huge Punjabi community where I live. In fact, there's an historic Punjabi temple right near my place.) Disco Singh opens in limited release tonight and could be the surprise hit of the weekend.

A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times - Reviews
A documentary about Jayson Blair, who as you might remember, was involved in a huge plagiarism scandal while at the New York Times. If you didn't remember that, you could just read the name of the movie and you will be caught up. The reviews are good, but not great, and limited releases tend to need great reviews to survive. A Fragile Trust opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Go with Le Flo - Reviews
A French romantic comedy involving two love triangles. There's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is negative. It is also the wrong genre for limited release. Finally, it is playing on Video on Demand as well. Go with Le Flo opens tonight at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles.

Hank and Asha - Reviews
A romantic comedy about a long-distant relationship between an Indian woman living in Prague, Asha, and a man living in New York City, Hank. The film's reviews are 67% positive, which is great for a romantic comedy, but likely too weak for a limited release. Additionally, this genre rarely does well in limited release. Hank and Asha opens tonight in New York City at the City Cinemas Village East, while it expands to Los Angeles next weekend.

Hateship Loveship - Reviews
Kristen Wiig is a great actress, but she's chosen some bad roles. This is one of them. In the movie, she plays a housekeeper hired by Nick Nolte to look after his granddaughter, Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a prank on her by setting her up with her divorced father, Guy Pearce. At the moment, the film is only getting 39% positive reviews, which would be bad for a wide release. It will likely prove fatal here. Hateship Loveship opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City, while it is also playing on Video on Demand.

Jesus People - Reviews
A mockumentary about a pastor who looks to a Christian rock band to reach his teenage son, before he dies. Well, for a comedy, this has a rather morbid plot. The film was made in 2009 but is only getting a release now. That's a bad sign. There are only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but two of them are positive, so it could be worse. Jesus People opens tonight in select theaters.

Joe - Reviews
Nicolas Cage plays Joe, an ex-con just looking to stay out of trouble, something he has had difficulty doing in the past, so he's become a loner. However, when he meets a young boy, Tye Sheridan, he becomes protective of him. The film's reviews are excellent, with a lot of praise going to Nicolas Cage's performance. On the other hand, the film is playing in Video on Demand, so its chances at the box office are reduced. Joe opens tonight in 48 theaters in select cities, which will likely prove to be too many to thrive.

Kochadaiiyaan 3D - No Reviews
A Bollywood digitally animated movie that was supposed to come out this week, but I also hear that it was pushed back until May. That's not good news, because it was supposed to come out April of last year. It reportedly cost $21 million to make, so it will need to be a huge hit for a Bollywood film to break even.

Only Lovers Left Alive - Reviews
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star as two lovers, who are also vampires. Before you run away, it is directed by Jim Jarmusch, so it is not some bad vampire romance movie. In fact, it is earning some of the best reviews of the weekend. Even so, it might be too "art house" for mainstream audiences. Only Lovers Left Alive opens tonight in four theaters and should win the race on the per theater chart.

Perfect Sisters - Reviews
Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley star as two sisters whose alcoholic mother accidentally drowned in the bathtub. ... Or was it really an accident? This movie is inspired by real life events and there's some minor controversy over how the mother is portrayed in the movie. More troubling from my perspective are the reviews, which are only mixed. Perfect Sisters opens tonight in theaters and on Video on Demand. I think it will perform better in the latter than the former.

The Railway Man - Reviews
Colin Firth stars in this real life story of a former World War II prisoner of war who learns his captor, and torturer, is still alive and goes to confront him. At one point, this film was scheduled to open wide. It's too bad it's not, because 69% positive reviews is fine for a wide release, but it will likely prove fatal for a limited release. The Railway Man opened tonight in four theaters and there is a scheduled expansion next weekend, but I'm not sure how wide that will be.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Railway Man, Only Lovers Left Alive, Dancing in Jaffa, Hateship Loveship, Cuban Fury, Joe, Kochadaiiyaan, Hank and Asha, Perfect Sisters, Jesus People, Bhoothnath Returns, Go with Le Flo, Disco Singh, Nicolas Cage, Abigail Breslin, Colin Firth, Nick Frost, Georgie Henley, Tom Hiddleston, Jim Jarmusch, Nick Nolte, Guy Pearce, Tilda Swinton, Kristen Wiig, Hailee Steinfeld, Tye Sheridan, Mahira Kakkar, Andrew Pastides