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Will Limited Releases be Defeated?

July 15th, 2011

It could be tough for limited releases this weekend. Not only is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 going to dominate the box office, but both new wide releases are earning Oscar-worthy reviews, so there's not a lot of room for limited releases to survive in. Fortunately, both wide releases are aimed at families, so perhaps a more dramatic film like Life, Above All or a documentary like Tabloid! can find a niche market.

Gunless - Reviews
A Canadian film starring Paul Gross as an American gunslinger on the run who winds up in a small Canadian town. It's a film that pokes fun at our neighbours to the south. It's lighthearted and gentle in the way it pokes fun, in fact, critics are saying its too lighthearted and it is little insubstantial. Still, it might be fun for Americans to see a Canadian perspective. Gunless opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Life, Above All - Reviews
When the newborn daughter of a family dies, rumors spread through their small village at a rapid pace and the mother is forced to leave. Her 12-year old daughter then leaves to find her. The film is earning amazing reviews, and was shortlisted for the Oscars this year for Best Foreign Language Film. Perhaps that will help it find an audience, but as a foreign language film, it's potential to expand is rather limited. Life, Above All opens tonight in five theaters, split between New York City and the Los Angeles area.

Lucky - Reviews
Colin Hanks stars as a man who just won the lotto. Or to be more accurate, he plays a serial killer whose latest victim had bought the winning lotto ticket. Now he's going to marry Lucy, the woman of his dreams. However, he doesn't know she's just a gold-digger. But she doesn't know he's been killing women that remind him of her. It's a Black Comedy, which is a genre that is hard to get right. And looking at the reviews, it's clear the filmmakers were not even close. Even worse, this is a genre that's hard to sell to moviegoers at the best of times. Lucky opens tonight in four theaters, half in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City and New Jersey.

Salvation Boulevard - Reviews
Religious satire with an amazing cast. (The five main cast members have two Oscars and nine nominations, not to mention the Golden Globes, Emmys, and other awards / nominations.) However, nearly all of the critics are complaining that the film picks targets that are too easy and the stereotypes used are lazy and / or mean. Perhaps the cast will draw people into theaters during the opening weekend, but I suspect that's the best the film can hope for. Salvation Boulevard opens tonight in four theaters, half in New York City, but also in Los Angeles, while it opens on Video on Demand on the 27th.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Reviews
A story set in two times following two characters in modern day, as well as two young girls in the 19th century. It is directed by Wayne Wang, who previously made The Joy Luck Club and Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, both of which earned incredible praise. He also directed Maid in Manhattan. This film was earning a lot of pre-release buzz, but unfortunately the reviews are the worst in Wayne Wang's career. It is also opening in 24 theaters, which is too many for a limited release.

Tabloid! - Reviews
It's rare for a documentary to have this much buzz going in, but it is also rare for a documentary to be about such a salacious topic. It's about Joyce McKinney, a former beauty pageant winner with a genius level I.Q., who kidnapped a Mormon missionary she had become obsessed with. It's not just the subject matter that could draw people into theaters, as the film was directed by Oscar-winner Errol Morris. That said, while it should do well on the art house circuit, I don't think it will expand significantly beyond that. Tabloid! opens tonight in fourteen theaters, which is rather high for this type of film.

The Tree - Reviews
Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as a wife and mother who has to deal with her husband's sudden death. Her youngest daughter soon begins to think her father is still around living in a fig tree and talking to her through the leaves. So far the reviews are very good, while the film was able to become a modest hit in a few international markets. However, it probably still has an upward climb ahead of it. The Tree opens tonight in two theaters, both in New York City.

The Undefeated - Reviews
There's a lot of interest in this film by a certain segment of the population. Two segments, actually. One group consists people who are fans of Sarah Palin and want her to become the next President of the United States. The second group consists of people placing bets over the film's chances. Will it or won't it do better than Atlas Shrugged? I'm betting it won't. It's reviews are still 100% negative, although there are only eight on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is too soon to judge the film's performance in that regard. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's popularity numbers are terrible, even among Republicans, even in her home state. On the other hand, while there are a lot of people who hold very negative opinions of her, there are still a lot that love her. Maybe not enough to become the Republican nominee, if she ever gets into the race, but perhaps enough to turn this film into an unexpected hit. The Undefeated opens tonight in select cities nationwide.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Gunless, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Salvation Boulevard, Life, Above All, Tabloid!, The Tree, Lucky, The Undefeated