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Limited Releases on the Defensive

February 19th, 2010

Oscar night is approaching, a fact which has influence on both the most significant limited release of the week, and the relative weakness of limited releases in general. It would be hard to argue that 2010 Oscar Shorts is not the biggest release of the week, but the most interesting release might be Defendor.

2010 Oscar Shorts - Reviews
This is the fifth year in a row that they've released a compilation of the Oscar nominated short films and every year the box office numbers have grown. Theater owners have taken note, as the theater count more than doubled from last year to 95 (hopefully that's not too many). I think it is fair to say the prime draw will the Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf or Death, while I've heard good things about The Door, Lady and the Reaper, Logorama and others. 2010 Oscar Shorts opens tonight in 95 theaters in select cities nationwide and should be the biggest hit at the box office this weekend.

Blood Done Sign My Name - Reviews
This movie is based on the novel of the same name, which is about the civil right battle that ensued in 1970s North Carolina after two white men were acquitted of murdering a black man. It's a powerful story, but the reviews are only mixed, and it is opening in nearly 100 theaters, which is way too many for this type of release. On the other hand, it is a timely release, as it is Black History Month. Expectations are still a little on the low side for this film. Blood Done Sign My Name opens tonight in 95 theaters across the country, but that it likely as far as it will go.

Defendor - Reviews
This Canadian movie marks the directorial debut of Peter Stebbings, who also wrote the screenplay. The film stars Woody Harrelson as a man who is a little on the slow side and is dealing with obvious issues, who decides to become a costumed super hero fighting the evil Captain Industry, whom he blames for his mother's death. Along the way he meets up with a prostitute named Kat, who is played by an actress named Kat. ... Weird. So far there are not a lot of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, because it is not opening in the States this week. Defendor opens this week in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto, while it makes its debut south of the border next week.

Ghost Writer - Reviews
This is Roman Polanski's most recent film, and it may or may not benefit from his recent appearances in the news. It might need it, as the reviews are good, but just shy of the 80% positive usually associated with films that thrive in limited release. The star power on both sides of the camera should help, but I'm not convinced it will be able to expand truly wide. Ghost Writer opens tonight in four theaters, two in New York City and two in the Los Angeles area.

The Good Guy - Reviews
Alexis Bledel stars as Beth Vest, a woman living in the big city who is looking for the perfect life. It appears she has it until she is torn between two men. It's not a very original plot and this is hurting it with critics, but it doesn't help that a lot of critics are also not impressed with the overall execution of the story. The Good Guy opens tonight in nine theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but that might be as wide as it goes.

Happy Tears - Reviews
Parker Posey and Demi Moore star as two sisters who have to deal with their father, who is dealing with dementia. One of several limited releases this week that is only earning mixed reviews. It is also opening in more theaters than I like for this type of release and in select cities, which is a tough release strategy to pull off. Happy Tears opens tonight in 14 theaters across the country including Ohio, Texas, Florida, Oregon, as well as more traditional places like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Reel Injun - Review
A documentary about the way Native Americans have been portrayed in movies throughout the years. Generally the depiction of Native Americans in films has ranged from "Well-meaning but wrong" to "Oh my god! What were they thinking?" If you were Native American and you grew up during a time when Indians were the most popular villain, it would have a major effect on your psyche, which is one of the topics explored in this film. Reel Injun opens tonight at the Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver and the AMC in Toronto.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Ghost Writer, Happy Tears, Defendor, The Good Guy, 2010 Oscar Shorts, Blood Done Sign My Name