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Everything is a Limited Release

November 7th, 2014

The Theory of Everything poster
There are a ton of limited releases coming out this week, including The Theory of Everything, which many people think will be an Awards Season contender. There are also a couple of foreign-language films worth checking out, Why Don't You Play in Hell and The Way He Looks. And finally, there are a trio of documentaries, Actress, Death Metal Angola, and National Gallery. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of films earning mixed or weaker reviews, so hopefully the good films don't get squeezed out.

21 Year: Richard Linklater - Reviews
A documentary about Richard Linklater. You would think a film about such an accomplished filmmaker would be great, but the reviews are mixed, at best. Additionally, the film is playing on Video on Demand and there is no official site. I don't think it is going to do well in limited release.

Actress - Reviews
A documentary about Brandy Burre, an actress who retired to start a family. When she returned to acting, her family life fell apart. One of a handful of films on this week's list earning amazing reviews and the interesting stylistic choices could help it thrive in art house theaters. Actress opens tonight at the Film Society Lincoln Center in New York City with other screenings planed for the coming weeks / months. Check out the official site for more details.

Bank$tas - No Reviews
I talked about this film previously when I thought it was coming out. That release date turned out to be false, but since there are still no reviews, I'm not 100% convinced this release date is right.

The Better Angels - Reviews
A biopic about Abraham Lincoln, but one that focuses on his childhood. The cast is great, but the reviews are not. It's a common complaint with limited releases this week. The Better Angels opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles. Check out the official site for more details.

Death Metal Angola - Reviews
A documentary about an orphanage in Angola run by a metal guitarist who uses heavy metal to help heal the ravages of war. The reviews are very strong, perhaps strong enough to find an audience in theaters. On the other hand, Death Metal Angola debuts in Los Angeles tonight, it expands to Video on Demand in just two weeks and the film will likely perform better there.

Elsa and Fred - Reviews
A film about romance in the autumn years. The film's cast is strong, but the reviews are really poor. It's a romantic comedy that follows the clichés built into the genre too closely and the chemistry of the two leads is not enough to save the film. Elsa and Fred opens tonight in select theaters.

Fugly! - Reviews
John Leguizamo writes and stars in this movie, which is partially based on his autobiographical one-man show. Unfortunately, the reviews are weak and there's lots of competition. So like so many other films on this week's list, its box office chances are limited. Fugly! opens tonight at the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

Jessabelle - Reviews
A horror film directed by Kevin Greutert, who previously directed a couple of installments in the Saw franchise. I read some fairly good advance buzz for this movie, but current reviews suggest that the movie didn't live up to expectations. Jessabelle opens tonight in select cities, as well as on Video on Demand. It will very likely perform better on the latter than the former.

The Lookalike - Reviews
A drug dealer is obsessed with a woman, but when she dies, his partners need to find a lookalike or their deal will fall apart. The reviews are terrible and the the competition is strong, so its box office chances are very weak. The Lookalike opens on Wednesday in select theaters.

A Merry Friggin' Christmas - Reviews
A dysfunctional family Christmas movie. Its reviews are terrible, but it is one of Robin Williams' final films, so that might draw in some moviegoers, but more likely they will watch it on Video on Demand instead.

Mr. Pip - Reviews
Hugh Laurie stars as the last white person living in a small town in Papua New Guinea during that country's civil war. He becomes an English teacher and has a great effect on one of his students, played by Xzannjah Matsi. The has mixed reviews, it is a busy week, and it is playing on Video on Demand, so its box office chances are weak. This could explain why the official site is pushing the Video on Demand more than the theatrical release.

National Gallery - Reviews
A documentary about London's National Gallery and the people who run it. The reviews are nearly perfect and this film practically screams art house. That said, it certainly doesn't even whisper mainstream multiplexes, so while I think it could do well on the per theater chart, I don't expect it to expand significantly once it does. National Gallery opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City with more planned exhibitions over the coming weeks / months. Check out the official site for more details.

On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter - Reviews
A sequel to an award-worthy documentary about motorcycle racing. This film's reviews are mixed and motorcycle racing isn't popular enough to make up the slack. On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter opens tonight in more than 200 theaters, which will likely kill the film's chance at the box office. Check out the official site for more details.

Open Windows - Reviews
Elijah Wood plays a fan who wins a dinner date with his favorite actress, only to have the date canceled. He soon is given access to her phone by a mysterious person, who clearly has an agenda. The film is the wrong genre for limited release, its reviews are weak, and it is opening on Video on Demand. That's three strikes for its box office chances.

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker - No Reviews
A documentary about Sophie Tucker, who was a vaudeville star, radio star, Broadway star, etc. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and it is only opening in southern Florida, so I'm not bullish about its box office chances. The Outrageous Sophie Tucker opens in nine theaters. Check out the official site for more details.

The Theory of Everything - Reviews
A biopic about Stephen Hawking, played by Eddie Redmayne. This film is earning some of the best reviews of the week and many think Eddie Redmayne will get an Oscar nomination for his performance. The Theory of Everything opens tonight in five theaters and out of all of the films on this week's list, it has the best chance of earning some measure of mainstream success.

The Tower - Reviews
A look at communist East Germany during its final years. There are only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which suggests there is not enough buzz to thrive in limited release. Worse still, all three reviews are negative. The Tower opens tonight at the Cinema Village before hitting Video on Demand on Tuesday.

The Way He Looks - Reviews
A blind teenager looking for independence becomes involved in a love triangle with his best friend and the new guy in school. The reviews are amazing, but as a Foreign-Language film, its chances of expanding significantly are very limited. It is Brazil's official selection for Best Foreign-Language Film, so if it picks up that nomination, it could earn some measure of mainstream success. The Way He Looks opens tonight in select theaters.

Wayward: The Prodigal Son - No Reviews
A faith-based film based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. There are no reviews, but that might not be fatal, if the film can develop buzz within the churchgoing community. However, that's a big "If" and I don't think it will happen. Wayward opens tonight in select cities. Check out the official site for more details.

West - Reviews
After the death of her husband, a woman tries to cross from East Germany to West Berlin, but her life in the West isn't as smooth as she hoped. There are not a lot of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the ones there are not overwhelmingly positive. Add in the number of other new releases and it is likely this one will fail to find an audience. West opens tonight for a one-week engagement at the Anthology Film Archives Theater. Check out the official site for more details.

Why Don't You Play in Hell - Reviews
Due to reasons too complicated to get into here, a group of talentless filmmakers have to make a movie for the Yakuza or die. Fortunately, they don't have to worry about things like safety, as the gang members are willing to die to get this movie made. The reviews are excellent and the director, Sion Sono is developing an audience here. That said, this is probably too out there for art house theaters or mainstream moviegoers. Why Don't You Play in Hell opens tonight in New York City and Austin, Texas, as well as on Video on Demand. Check out the official site for more details.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Lookalike, The Theory of Everything, Jessabelle, Bank$tas, The Theory of Everything, Mr. Pip, Elsa & Fred, National Gallery, The Better Angels, Wayward: The Prodigal Son, On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter, A Merry Friggin' Christmas, Open Windows, Lagerfeuer, 21 Years: Richard Linklater, Actress, Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho, Jigoku de naze warui, Death Metal Angola, Der Turm, Saw, Robin Williams, Kevin Greutert, Hugh Laurie, John Leguizamo, Richard Linklater, Eddie Redmayne, Elijah Wood, Sion Sono, Sasha Grey, Brandy Burre, Xzannjah Matsi