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Daydreaming of Limited Releases

April 15th, 2011

It's another big week for limited releases with a couple that are opening in far more theaters than most limited releases can dream of, plus they are opening with a lot stronger buzz. ... Or to be much more accurate, much louder buzz, as the two biggest releases are not exactly earning top notch reviews. The Conspirator is benefiting from an incredible pedigree, which includes Robert Redford as the director. Meanwhile, Atlas Shrugged: Part I is based on a book by Ayn Rand, who has a committed fan base. Personally, the film I'm most interested in seeing is Daydream Nation, which opens in Canada this weekend and in the United States next month.

Atlas Shrugged: Part I - Reviews
An adaptation of a book that some treat as though it's holy writ, while others mock mercilessly. The film is not generating the same divided opinion, as even critics that loved the book are giving the film negatives reviews. I'm not surprised in the slightest, and neither should anyone else who knows about the film's trek through development hell. The rights were bought nearly two decades ago and over the years many, many people were attached to the movie in various roles. At one point, there was even talk it would be a $100 million movie starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. That didn't happen. Instead is was rushed into production with principle filming beginning just two days before the producer would have lost the rights to the novel. Most critics are calling it a low-budget rush job, and that's exactly what it is. Maybe if it can tap into the Tea Party movement it can find an audience; that's certainly what the distributor is hoping for. Atlas Shrugged: Part I opens tonight in 300 theaters, but I seriously doubt there will be a Part II or III, not unless there's serious ring-wing welfare helping it out.

The Conspirator - Reviews
This movie has a lot in common with the previous film on this week's list. It's a politically motivated film, albeit coming from the opposite side of the spectrum. (It looks at the trials of those charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and uses it as an allegory to Guantanamo Bay.) It's opening in way too many theaters, even more than the previous film at over 700, which is enough for some to consider it a wide release. And its reviews are weak for a limited release. Although to be fair, its closer to the overall positive level than Atlas Shrugged: Part I is to 0% positive. There are some analysts that are predicting it will crack the top ten. It would only need to earn a per theater average of close to $5000, which is not out of the question. I'm not willing to predict it will get there, but it is a slim possibility. On the other hand, $2 million is far more likely, while opening below the Mendoza Line is also a possibility.

Daydream Nation - Buy from Amazon
This Canadian film opens tonight in select theaters north of the border before debuting in the United States next month. It stars Kat Dennings as a high school girl who moves with her father from the big city to a small town and doesn't quite fit in. She develops a bit of a negative reputation, gets involved with her teacher and one of her fellow students. The buzz is better than most Canadian films earn, but sadly that means very little with regards to its box office chances, as the Canadian movie industry does not have a good record when it comes to promoting movies. Hopefully it will be one of the exceptions. Daydream Nation opens tonight in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, while it has a special event at the AMC Younge Dundas in Toronto on Saturday and at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Vancouver on Sunday. Meanwhile, it opens in limited release in the United States on May 6th before coming out on DVD and Blu-ray.

The Double Hour - Reviews
This Italian film was a big hit at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Its two leads, Kseniya Rappoport and Filippo Timi, won Best Actress and Best Actor Respectively, while it won Best Italian Film. Looking at its reviews here and those results are no surprise. Critics are praising the combination of various genres from romance to noir to thriller, all mixed up with plenty of twists. The Double Hour opens tonight in New York City and expands to Los Angeles in a couple weeks.

Dumbstruck - Reviews
A documentary about ventriloquism. It specifically looks at five such performers at various stages of their careers. There's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a bad sign. At least it's positive, but it still suggests there not enough buzz for the film to thrive in limited release. Dumbstruck opens tonight at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta, Georgia, which is not the typical place to open a film in limited release. This is another bad sign.

Fly Away - Reviews
Beth Broderick plays the divorced mother of an autistic girl, Ashley Rickards, who is growing up, which is putting a strain on their relationship. (The Empty-Nest syndrome is much stronger in these cases.) The reviews are excellent, but its chances of box office success are slim to none, as it comes out on DVD in less than two weeks, which doesn't leave a long enough window to sell enough tickets. Fly Away opens tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City and the AMC Covina just outside of Los Angeles.

Footprints - Reviews
Sybil Temtchine plays a woman who wakes up on the handprints at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with no idea who she is or how she got there. The reviews are very weak with many critics complaining that it's too inside Hollywood to work outside of an audience who know the kind of people that hang around Hollywood Boulevard. Footprints opens tonight at the Laemmles Sunset 5 in Los Angeles and the Quad Cinema in New York City.

The Princess of Montpensier - Reviews
One of the few films on this week's list earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Melanie Thierry stars as the titular princess, who is betrothed to a well connected prince, even though she's in love with another. When he's called off to war, she has to navigate court politics. It is earning excellent reviews, but it is a foreign language film, which will limit its potential to expand. The Princess of Montpensier opens tonight in three theaters, the IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York City, as well as the Laemmle's Royal Theatre in Los Angeles.

Son of the Sunshine - Review
This Canadian film opened last week, but it has done well enough that it is being held over at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto, Canada for at least one more week.

Square Grouper - Reviews
A documentary about the 1970s drug trade in Florida, specifically the marijuana trade. Less violent than the cocaine that followed it, which writer / director Billy Corben dealt with in his previous documentary, Cocaine Cowboys. The reviews are not as strong this time around, so it will be interesting to see how well it does at the box office in comparison. Square Grouper opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, The Conspirator, Daydream Nation, La princesse de Montpensier, Dumbstruck, La doppia ora, Footprints, Square Grouper