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This Weekend Could Be Murder on Limited Releases

February 18th, 2011

It's really hard to find many limited releases that are earning more than 80% positive reviews, which is usually the level needed to thrive in limited release. There are several that are on the bubble, but it could be really hard for any of them to find breakout success. There are a few that are earning a lot of positive buzz, including Small Town Murder Songs, but I really don't think any will thrive.

Brotherhood - Reviews
Trevor Morgan stars as a fraternity pledge who has to rob a convenience store as part of his initiation. But when the prank goes wrong and one of the fellow robbers dies, the fraternity tries to cover things up. This is writer / director Will Canon's feature-length debut, and while the reviews are only mixed, it's a good start. Brotherhood opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas, Texas, which is near where the film was shot.

The Chaperone - Reviews
Out of all of the films on this week's list, this one quite possibly has the least chance to thrive in limited release. Ironically, if all of the films on this week's list were to open wide instead, this one could have done the best. After all, doesn't it really look that much worse than The Game Plan or The Pacifier. In the film, Paul Levesque plays an ex-con trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Ariel Winter from Modern Family and Phineas and Ferb). He goes so far to be the chaperone on her school trip, which is complicated when his old bank robbing crew come calling. Its reviews are way too weak to think it will thrive in limited release (plus WWE Films do not have a strong track record in that regard). On the other hand, it should perform better when it reaches the home market. The Chaperone opens tonight in ten theaters nationwide.

Even the Rain - Reviews
One of the better reviewed films of the weekend, the latest from director Iciar Bollain is about a documentary film crew who are shooting a film about Spain's conquest of South America. During filming, the locals start an uprising because a corporation privatizes the water supply, going so far to charge people who collect rain water. That part is inspired by real life and it is a powerful story to tell. The reviews are just shy of the 80% positive level, but it is a foreign language film, so success will be hard to find. Hopefully it will find success, but the odds are against it. Even the Rain opens tonight in eight theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

I Am - Reviews
Writer / director Tom Shadyac is best known for rather broad comedies like Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, and Patch Adams. But here he has created a documentary about the state of the world and what we can do to make it better. There are not many reviews, and the reviews that are on Rotten Tomatoes are merely mixed, so it could struggle at the box office. I Am opens tonight at the Regal Fox Tower 10 in Portland, Oregon.

Immigration Tango - Reviews
Two foreign students, studying in the United States, are in a committed relationship, but their visas are about to expire. If she is forced to go back to Russia and he is forced to go back to Columbia, they will never see each other. So they do the only sensible thing, marry their best friends, who are also in a committed relationship. Okay, that really only makes sense in the world of cheesy romantic comedies, which is exactly what this movie is. Unfortunately, calling the film "cheesy" might be a compliment, as the reviews are awful. To be fair, most negative reviews are not aggressively negative and merely complain that the film is of sitcom quality as opposed to really bad, so perhaps fan of the genre will be interested in watching it. But even then, wait till the home market. Perhaps wait till it is on cable TV. Immigration Tango opens tonight in 30 theaters nationwide.

The Last Lions - Reviews
A documentary about the plight of lions in Africa, specifically one lioness protecting her cubs. The film is earning the best reviews of the weekend, but it is always a tough road for a documentary to find theatrical success. The Last Lions opens tonight in four theaters, half in New York City, but also in Los Angeles and Bethesda, Maryland.

Saat Khoon Maaf - No Reviews
The latest Bollywood film stars Priyanka Chopra as a woman looking for love, but while she has an easy time finding a husband, they turn out to be less than ideal. Then they turn up dead. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but that's not a surprise for the genre. I did find one online and it is positive, so perhaps the film will find an audience with its target demographic. Saat Khoon Maaf opens tonight in nearly 80 theaters in the usual markets.

Small Town Murder Songs - Reviews
This Canadian film is the sophomore effort by Ed Gass-Donnelly, and it is earning a lot of positive buzz, even if its reviews are not overwhelmingly positive. In fact, it got him on Variety's list of Ten Directors to Watch. Let's hope that translates into box office success, but it will be a hard climb, as there really isn't the infrastructure up north to support home grown films. Small Town Murder Songs opens tonight in Edmonton and Toronto before expanding into B.C. next week. Meanwhile, it has a few film festival dates next month in the United States in San Jose, Miami, and Cleveland.

Vanishing on Seventh Street - Reviews
A group of New Yorkers hide in a bar after a blackout happens and anyone caught in the darkness disappears. It's a cool premise, the director Brad Anderson has made some excellent movies in the past. However, so far the reviews are only average and even with a cast with higher name recognition than most limited releases, it could struggle theatrically. Vanishing on Seventh Street opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Last Lions, I Am, Brotherhood, Vanishing on Seventh Street, The Chaperone, I Am, Immigration Tango, Even the Rain, Saat Khoon Maaf