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Melancholia and the Limited Releases

November 11th, 2011

We are getting into Awards Season with a real contender, Melancholia, opening this week. There are a few other releases with incredible reviews, like The Conquest, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within and Into the Abyss. I would love to think all four films will be able to find an audience during their limited release. However, odds are Melancholia will be the only one to do so, as foreign language films and documentaries rarely escape the art house circuit.

11-11-11 - Reviews
At one point, it looked like this film would open wide, but that's not the case. It is the widest release on this week's list debuting in 19 theaters, but this could be its undoing. It's the wrong genre for limited releases, it only has one review on Rotten Tomatoes and it's negative. There's not much going for it.

About Fifty - No Reviews
Wendie Malick stars as Kate, who, at 50, decides to go on a road trip with two of her male friends, Adam and Jon, who are also 50 years old. The three of them head to Palm Springs for much needed rest and relaxation and a bit of romance. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a bad sign. About Fifty opens tonight in Palm Springs, which makes sense given the location of the movie, but it is not a typical location for a limited release to open, which is another complication.

The Big Fix - Reviews
A documentary about the catastrophic environmental disaster that happened when the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig sank. It talks about how profits have been put ahead of public health, which is a very, very important subject. So far there is only one review on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a positive review, but only one review suggests there is no buzz going on and that can be just as fatal as bad reviews. The Big Fix opens tonight in one theater in New Orleans, before expanding to Los Angeles next week and New York City next month.

The Conquest - Reviews
A political biopic about the rise of Nicolas Sarkozy, played in the film by Denis Podalydes. The film's reviews are among the best of the week, but I'm not sure there are a lot of people who will be interested in seeing the film. While there are a lot of people here who enjoy French cinema, only a smaller subsection of those will be interested in a film based on current events. The Conquest opens tonight in eight theaters, mostly in New York and the Los Angeles area.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - Reviews
The first Elite Squad was a huge hit in Brazil earning more than $11 million in that market, but it earned less than $10,000 here. This film, on the other hand, earned more than $60 million and with perfect reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it could have much more success in this market. I don't think it will expand wide, but it could earn some measure of mainstream success. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within opens tonight at the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

The Greening of Whitney Brown - Reviews
Sammi Hanratty stars as the titular Whitney Brown, a teenage girl whose father was rich, till he lost his job and his investments. Her family was forced to move back to his family home in the country and away from everything she's known. Once there, she becomes friends with a horse. Most critics are calling the film a fluffy tween flick that is better suited as a TV movie. In addition to the weak reviews, the film is aimed at the wrong target demographic for limited release. Perhaps it will find an audience when it reaches the home market, but it will likely struggle theatrically.

Into the Abyss - Reviews
Werner Herzog has created yet another critically acclaimed documentary. This one deals with death row inmates and what could drive them to kill, as well as the what drives the state to kill them. The film's reviews and Werner Herzog's track record suggest it could do well in limited release. It might even earn some Awards Season buzz. Into the Abyss is opening in twelve theaters in eight markets, which is a little high for this type of release, but hopefully that won't hurt the film's box office chances.

London Boulevard - Reviews
This film certainly has an impressive cast when compared to most limited releases. The cast includes Keira Knightley, Colin Farrell, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis and others. This should give it a boost at the box office. However, the film's reviews are quite bad, while it opened on Video on Demand last month. London Boulevard opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City, but I do not have high hopes for its box office chances.

Melancholia - Reviews
This is the big limited release for the week. This is the film that not only has the best shot at earning some measure of mainstream success, but it could be a player during Awards Season. It was written and directed by Lars Von Trier, who is no stranger to winning awards. It stars Kirsten Dunst, among others, and some are calling her performance in this movie the best of her career. The film's reviews, which are 80% positive, do suggest it will thrive in limited release, but I'm not sure it will be enough to be a player during awards season. It should earn some buzz, but perhaps not enough to win. Melancholia opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.


Filed under: Limited Releases, London Boulevard, Melancholia, 11-11-11, La conquête, The Greening of Whitney Brown, Tropa de Elite 2: O Inimigo Agora É Outro, Into the Abyss, The Big Fix, About Fifty