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Some Good Limited Releases, Some Not So Good Limited Releases

October 9th, 2009

Has Awards Season officially begun? There are more than 10 limited releases on this week's list, including three that have to be considered potential Awards Season players. These three films are The Damn United, An Education, and Good Hair , and in addition to earn strong reviews, could also be breakout hits. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of films coming out in too many theaters with too few positive reviews.

Adventures of Power - Reviews
A story about a boy's desire to become the world's greatest 'Air Drummer'. It's an Indie comedy that tries too hard to be hip to succeed and terrible reviews will likely kill any chance it has at the box office. It had some early buzz from its festival run last year and there is a chance it could become a cult hit, but there's almost no chance it will be a box office success. Adventures of Power opens tonight in two theaters, including the AMC Loews Village 7 in New York City.

Bronson - Reviews
A biopic about a petty thug that became one of the U.K.'s most notorious prisoners due to his violence while behind bars. The film's controversial nature could help it find an audience here, while the reviews won't hurt. That said, the competition is very high this weekend. Bronson opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

The Damn United - Reviews
Michael Sheen could become a perennial Awards Season favorite, as he puts in another amazing performance in this movie. Here is stars as Brian Clough, who managed several football teams throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This movie focuses on the year he managed Leeds United, which was the team he hated the most while he managed Derby County. Well, he didn't hate the team as much as its manager, Don Revie. Reviews are Oscar-worthy and there's a serious chance that it could expand significantly, even though soccer isn't popular here, and that's a serious detriment to its box office chances. The Damn United opens tonight in six theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City.

An Education - Reviews
Carey Mulligan stars in this coming of age story set in 1960s England. The buzz surrounding this movie is very impressive, and it already won a couple awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Its reviews are 90% positive, so it could be an Awards Season contender. A fast start this weekend could give it the exposure it needs to earn some hardware, or at least some serious nominations. An Education opens tonight in four theaters, half in New York City and half in the Los Angeles area.

Free Style - Reviews
This is a movie I'm not so sure about. Firstly, its reviews are terrible for a limited release. Secondly, it doesn't feel like the kind of film that thrives in limited release, regardless of the reviews. Thirdly, it is opening in nearly 200 theaters, which is way too many theaters. In the film, Corbin Bleu stars Cale Bryant, who is trying to win a spot on the Grand National motocross racing team. It also co-stars Madison Pettis, which gives the movie a Disney vibe that could hurt its chance in limited release as well. We will see on Monday.

From Mexico with Love - No Reviews
The widest release of the week, but so far there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The film focuses on a Mexican immigrant who wants to become a boxer and gets help from a washed up trainer. It is aimed at a niche market, so it might have a chance to do well within that group; however, its chances of expanding are almost non-existent. From Mexico with Love opens tonight in nearly 300 theaters.

Good Hair - Reviews
One of the best-reviewed movie of the week. One of the best-reviewed documentaries of the year. In the movie, Chris Rock hosts (as well as writes and produces) this movie about African-American obsession with hair, which is a $9 billion industry. Normally documentaries operate under the radar of 90% of the moviegoers, but this movie has been featured in mainstream press. (Chris Rock's association certainly helps.) That said, it is opening in nearly 200 theaters, which is a huge amount and perhaps too much to thrive. On the other hand, it has a slim chance at reaching the top ten over the weekend.

Passport to Love - No Reviews
Directed by Victor Vu, who also co-wrote the movie. It's a romantic comedy about Vietnamese students studying in the United States and whose lives change once they get here. So far there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a bad sign. It is also opening in six theaters tonight, but in smaller markets like Sugar Land, Texas and Chamblee, Georgia. Its chances at the box office are limited.

Peter and Vandy - Reviews
Jason Ritter stars as Peter and Jess Weixler stars as Vandy in this movie about a relationship that shows us how they got to where they are. Its reviews are not bad for this type of film, but not bad is definitely not good for a limited release. Peter and Vandy - opens tonight in 3 theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City.

St. Trinian's - Reviews
The largest Indie hit from the U.K. This is not a movie that is earning great reviews, or even good reviews, but it's the kind of movie that could have real popular appeal. That said, it is opening in 76 theaters, which is roughly 7 theaters per positive review, which is insanity for a limited release. I don't expect it to be a strong player during its theatrical run, but this could be a major hit on the home market.

Trucker - Reviews
Michelle Monaghan stars as Diane Ford, a trucker who is trying to reconnect with her 11-year old son, Peter, whom she hasn't seen in nearly a decade, after her husband goes into the hospital. This film was made in 2007 and has struggled to find a theatrical release for more than a year. Trucker opens tonight in seven theaters, including New York City, the Los Angeles area, Chicago, and other major markets.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Damned United, Trucker, An Education, Free Style, Good Hair, From Mexico with Love, Bronson, St. Trinian’s, Adventures of Power