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Limited Releases: Whipped into Shape

October 10th, 2014

Whiplash poster

We have a rather long list of limited releases this week, but sadly only three of them are earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Unfortunately, two of these films will likely not do well in theaters. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is a horror film, which is one strike against it, while it is also playing on Video on Demand. I Am Ali is a documentary, so it could do well in art house circuits, but its chances of expanding significantly are very limited. Finally there's Whiplash, which could lead the way on the Per Theater Chart.

Automata - Reviews
An insurance agent for the ROC robotics corporation is sent to investigate a case of a robot modifying itself, which is something its programming should prevent it from doing. It is an interesting setup for a movie, but the execution is flawed. A Tomatometer Score of 29% positive would be damaging for a wide release and it will likely prove fatal here. Automata opens tonight in theaters as well as on Video on Demand.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda - Reviews
A documentary about Paramahansa Yogananda, the Yogi who brought Yoga to North America. There are only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which suggests a lack of buzz. On the other hand, they are all positive. Awake: The Life of Yogananda opens tonight in the Cinema Village in New York City with a planned push next week. Check out the official site for more details.

The Canal - Reviews
A man learns his home was the site of a gruesome murder. He does nothing with this information, because he's more concerned with a possible affair his wife is having. The reviews are good, but not great, and this is the wrong genre for limited release. It is also playing on Video on Demand, which is where it will do most of its business.

Christian Mingle: The Movie - Reviews
A movie based on a website, or perhaps it is just 100% product placement. Lacey Chabert stars as a woman who decides to use Christian Mingle to find a boyfriend, but while she's nominally a Christian, she's not Christian enough for the guy she meets, so she reevaluates her life. There's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, but it is positive, so that's at least something. Even so, it will do better on the home market than in theaters.

The Devil's Hand - No Reviews
In a small town, six women give birth to six girls on the sixth day of the sixth month, thus fulfilling a prophecy. When these girls turn 18, they will become the Devil's Hand. This is a horror film opening with no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. (Currently there's one review there, but it is for a film from 1962 of the same name.) Additionally, it is playing on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are nearly zero.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead - Reviews
A sequel to Dead Snow, which is a movie about Nazi Zombies. It sounds like a premise to a really bad movie, but both the original and especially this one earned good reviews. In fact, the reviews for this film are so good that it might have had a chance to find an audience in theaters, despite the genre. Might have had, except it is opening on Video on Demand and will likely perform a lot better there.

The House that October Built - Reviews
A found footage horror movie about a group traveling the country looking at haunted houses set up for Halloween. They realize that one of these places was real and the evil has followed them home. The House that October Built opens tonight in nearly a dozen cities. Click here for more details.

I Am Ali - Reviews
A documentary about Muhammad Ali. There have been a lot of documentaries about the famous boxer, but this one has a hook. It includes plenty of audio recordings from Muhammad Ali himself. Most critics say this is not enough to truly stand out. I Am Ali opens tonight in nearly a dozen theaters, which is a lot for a documentary.

Kill the Messenger - Reviews
A film about Gary Webb, an investigative journalist who discovered the CIA knew about cocaine being smuggled into the United States by traffickers who were financially supporting the Nicaragua Contras. The reviews are good, but not overwhelmingly positive, so I'm not sure how well it will do at the box office. Kill the Messenger opens tonight in nearly 400 theaters, which will likely prove to be too many.

Kite - Reviews
A movie about a young girl, Sawa, whose parents were killed by sex traffickers and who now hunts down and kills those she thinks are responsible. The film pretends to be empowering, but the critics all complain that the lead character is sexualized in a very exploitative way. Kite opens tonight in select theaters, as well as on Video on Demand. However, with 0% positive reviews, you should skip it.

Meet the Mormons - Reviews
A documentary about Mormons that wants to tell outsiders that Mormons are people too. If you have to tell people your normal, you've lost the PR war. Also, if your film has 0% positive reviews, it might not be effective. Meet the Mormons opens tonight in select cities nationwide. Check out the official site for more details.

One Chance - Reviews
Based on the real life story of Paul Potts, who went from a shopkeeper to stardom after going on Britain's Got Talent. The reviews are good, but not great, and the story won't have the same resonance this side of the pond. It could find an audience on the home market, on the other hand. One Chance opens tonight in select cities.

The Overnighters - Reviews
A documentary about a group of homeless men who arrive in a small town and the conflict that comes when one church tries to help them. The town of Williston, North Dakota was experiencing an oil boom, so these men showed up looking for work, but there were more potential workers than there were jobs to be filled. Even those who do find work find it hard to find a place to live. This film has the best reviews of the weekend, but it is also a documentary, so its chances of expanding significantly are limited. Then again, it might become an Awards Season contender, which would certainly help it at the box office. The Overnighters opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City and there is even a Q&A with the director.

The Pact 2 - Reviews
The original film earned good reviews and did well for a low-budget horror movie, well enough to justify a sequel. This film, on the other hand, is earning terrible reviews with only one of the six reviews on Rotten Tomatoes giving it a thumbs up. Additionally, the genre rarely does well in limited release. Finally, it is already available on Video on Demand. If you are interested, I would rent it first.

St. Vincent - Reviews
This film earned a tremendous amount of pre-release buzz, but sadly the reviews aren't living up to the hype. It isn't a bad movie and many critics say Bill Murray's performance is enough to make the overall movie worth checking out. Most critics still complain about the sentimentality and the clichés in the movie, on the other hand. St. Vincent opens tonight in limited release and there is a planned wide expansion on the 24th. I'm not convinced that will happen.

#Stuck - Reviews
A couple have a one-night stand and then get stuck together in traffic and get to know each other. Wow, this sounds almost exactly like Two Night Stand. which came out only two weeks ago. This film is earning better reviews, but I really doubt it will find an audience in theaters. Romantic comedies rarely do well in limited release. #Stuck opens tonight in five theaters, as well as on Video on Demand. Check out the official site for more details.

Whiplash - Reviews
Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neyman, a young man who wants to become one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time. He is recruited by Terence Fletcher to be part of the school jazz band. Terence Fletcher is known for his... controversial methods. The film's reviews are award-worthy and the buzz is strong. Also, while there are a lot of other films on this week's list, there are almost none that are earning similarly strong reviews, so its direct competition is low. Whiplash opens tonight in six theaters, split evenly between New York City and the Los Angeles area.

You're Not You - Reviews
A classical pianist is diagnosed with ALS and she has to have a caretaker. Her caretaker is a rather irresponsible wannabe rock'n'roll singer. This feels like a film that was made to win awards, but the reviews are terrible. Additionally, it is opening on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are negligible. You're Not You opens tonight in select theaters, but it will likely not stay in theaters long.


Filed under: Limited Releases, St. Vincent, The Devil's Hand, One Chance, Kill the Messenger, Automata, Two Night Stand, Whiplash, Kite, You're Not You, Dod Sno 2, Christian Mingle, The Movie, Meet the Mormons, The Canal, I Am Ali, The Overnighters, The Pact 2, #Stuck, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, The Houses October Built, Lacey Chabert, Bill Murray, J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller, India Eisley, Muhammad Ali