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Searching for Killer Limited Releases

July 27th, 2012

There are not a huge number of limited releases on this week's chart, but all of them are earning overall positive reviews, and a few of them are generating some strong buzz. Killer Joe is one such film, but its rating could prevent it from reaching a sizable audience. Ruby Sparks has far more populous appeal, but weaker reviews. Searching for Sugar Man has some of the best reviews of the month, but documentaries rarely escape the grasp of limited release.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry - Reviews
A look at Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who is just as concerned with politics as he is with art. This film is earning amazing reviews and it could be a hit on the art house circuit. On the other hand, I don't see this film expanding into multiplexes. Almost no documentaries make that leap, and the subject matter here is even more limiting. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry opens tonight in six theaters in New York City, San Francisco, and other cities.

Killer Joe - Reviews
Emile Hirsch plays a drug dealer whose mother, Gina Gershon, steals his stash. Now he has to pay his supplier, or he will be killed. He conspires with his father, Thomas Haden Church, to kill his mother. They try to hire Matthew McConaughey, a corrupt cop / hit man, to do the job, but they don't have the money to pay him up front. However, he says he will do the job without being paid in advance, if he can take Juno Temple's virginity, his sister, his younger sister. The film's reviews are excellent and the film is generating a lot more buzz than most limited releases. However, it has to deal with an NC-17 rating, which will likely keep it from expanding significantly. Killer Joe opens tonight in four theaters, all in New York City, before expanding to Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Chicago, and other cities next week.

Klown - Reviews
Frank got his girlfriend pregnant. His girlfriend doesn't think he'd make a very good father. To prove her wrong, he kidnaps her 12-year old nephew and tries being a father to the boy by taking him on a canoe trip with Frank's equally unfit friend. That's a terrible idea. On the other hand, this is a good movie earning nearly 80% positive reviews. That's close to the level needed to find an audience in limited release. That said, it likely won't expand significantly beyond the art house circuit. Klown opens tonight in six theaters, mostly in Austin, Texas, but also in New York City and Los Angeles.

Ruby Sparks - Reviews
Paul Dano plays a writer who had early success, but now can't write due to major writer's block. He finally has a spark of imagination and creates the perfect woman for his next book. As he continues to write, she become more real in his imagination, and then Ruby becomes real in real life. The film is earning good reviews, but not great reviews, but its buzz could compensate. Ruby Sparks opened on Wednesday in more than a dozen theaters and earned just under $20,000. This is good, but not great. Its theater count will make earning a truly great per theater average much harder. It should do well enough to pave the way for a strong home market run.

Sacrifice - Reviews
A ruthless warlord kills his enemies, and all of his enemies' family, except for one infant who was rescued by the doctor who delivered him. He trains the boy to become a tool of revenge. The film has earned good reviews, but not great reviews. It is also an action film, which it not the right genre for limited release. If you are a fan of the genre, it's worth keeping an eye out for, even if you have to wait till the home market to see it. Sacrifice opens tonight in more than a dozen theaters.

Searching for Sugar Man - Reviews
In the 1960s, a rock musician by the name of Rodriguez was discovered in a Detroit bar by two music producers who thought he would be the next big thing. However, the album they recorded flopped and he disappeared from the music scene. His album found a very appreciative audience in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s and now two documentarians, who grew up on his music, travel to America to try and find him. The film's reviews are unbelievably positive and the movie is earning a lot more buzz than most limited releases earn. It is still a documentary, so expanding wide is very, very unlikely. Hopefully it will still be a success in limited release. Searching for Sugar Man opens tonight in three theaters: Angelika Film Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York City, plus The Landmark in Los Angeles.

United States of Africa - No Reviews
A Canadian documentary about hip hop, specifically the creation of Didier Awadi's album to celebrate great African leaders. Like most Canadian films, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. There are some reviews online, mostly in French, so it's hard for me to judge the quality here. United States of Africa opens tonight in Toronto.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Killer Joe, Zhao shi gu er, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Searching for Sugar Man, Klovn: The Movie, Ruby Sparks