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Limited Releases: Success Not Guaranteed

June 8th, 2012

There are quite a few limited releases on this week's list, including quite a few that earned some pre-release buzz: Bel Ami, Dark Horse, Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, Lola Versus, and Safety Not Guarenteed. Unfortunately, only the last one is earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Hopefully it will perform well enough that it can escape the art house circuit and earn some measure of mainstream success.

1 out of 7 - No Reviews
Laura Ramsey stars as Lexi, a girl who runs away from home but life on the streets gets a lot harder when she become pregnant. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but a couple I found online were positive. Unfortunately, a lack of buzz will hurt, while going Video on Demand along with its theatrical release will probably kill its box office chances.

Bel Ami - Reviews
Robert Pattinson has been struggling to get away from the Twilight franchise, because if he's too associated with just those films, he might find it impossible to get other work. So far, the results have been mixed. Bel Ami is one of the biggest limited releases in terms of cast and buzz, but the reviews are only mixed. Mixed reviews might be fine for a pop corn flick, but they will likely kill a limited release. Also, the video has been playing on Video on Demand for a while, and that too usually kills a film's box office number. Bel Ami opens tonight in 15 theaters in select cities.

Dark Horse - Reviews
Written and directed by Todd Solondz. It should come as no surprise that it is about misfits and outcasts, as that's the people he almost always makes movies about. In this film, Jordan Gelber stars as a man in his 30s who still lives at home and collects toys, while Selma Blair stars as the black sheep of her family. The two fall in love, but it is a troubled romance, as they are both not quite adults despite their age. The reviews are very good, but I'm not sure if they are good enough for limited release and Todd Solondz's box office numbers have slipped with his recent films. Dark Horse opens tonight in select cities.

For the Love of Money - Reviews
The film follows an immigrant who is trying to make the American Dream come true, but runs foul of organized crime. So far there is only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is negative. For the Love of Money opens tonight at the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding - Buy from Amazon
I had high hopes for this film, because of its impressive cast. (This includes a couple personal favorites, like Catherine Keener.) Also, the film's director has been nominated for two Oscars, and so has Catherine Keener, while Jane Fonda has two wins. Unfortunately, the reviews have been overwhelmingly negative. To be fair, they are not aggressively negative and most critics simply say the positive aspects are not enough to compensate for the negative aspects, but there's still something here to enjoy. Or to be more precise, the acting is good, but the script is lazy. It's probably better to catch it on the home market. Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding opens tonight in 28 theaters in select cities.

Letters to Elena - No Reviews
A young boy is adopted by the mail man in a small Mexican town and as he grows up, he helps the mailman perform his duties. Part of the duties is reading letters to the many illiterate citizens; however, the boy becomes depressed after having to give bad news to so many people, so he decides to lie and come up with happy stories. It could be a good movie, but there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and very few I've found online. This indicates a lack of buzz which would hurt the film, unless it is well marketed to a niche audience. Letters to Elena opens tonight in a dozen theaters in select cities.

Lola Versus - Reviews
Greta Gerwig is arguably the Indie Queen at the moment, although she does have more than a few mainstream Hollywood films under her belt. Depending on who you talk to, either her performance saves this movie from mediocrity, or her performance isn't enough to save this film from mediocrity. Unfortunately, the latter is the more prevalent opinion. I had high hopes for the film, but with its reviews, it will likely fail to make an impact at the box office. Lola Versus opens tonight in four theaters, including the Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles.

Paul Williams Still Alive - Reviews
When I first heard this title, my initial thought was, 'Were there rumors Paul Williams was dead?' This documentary details the life and career of the singer / song writer / actor, who has been working for decades. The film's reviews are nearly perfect and fans of the man will certainly want to check it out. In fact, watching the film might make you a fan if you've never heard his name in the past. Paul Williams Still Alive opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in New York City, before expanding to Los Angeles in two weeks.

Safety Not Guarenteed - Reviews
Based on a real story, loosely based on a real story. Someone put an ad in the classified paper asking for someone to travel back in time with them and warned that safety was not guaranteed. This movie takes that premise and writes the story about three magazine writers who try and find him and write a story about him. The film was earning a lot of pre-release buzz, but a lot of times buzz turns out to be nothing more than hype. However, in this case, the reviews suggest that buzz might have under-sold the film, not over-hyped it. If there's one limited release on this week's list that might break out and earn some mainstream success, this is it. Safety Not Guarenteed opens tonight in nine theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Bel Ami, Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, Dark Horse, Cartas a Elena, Lola Versus, Safety Not Guaranteed, Paul Williams Still Alive, For the Love of Money, 1 Out Of 7