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The Princess and Orson Welles and other Limited Releases

November 26th, 2009

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Only four wide releases this week, and only one of them has a Tomatometer Score above the 80% level usually associated with films that thrive in limited release. That said, the other three all have Tomatometer Scores in the 70s, and all could earn at least a slice of mainstream success. Also coming out this week is a Canadian movie, which doesn't have as rosy a box office future.

Coopers' Camera - Review
This film has a simple premise: It's Christmas 1985 and the Cooper family is in for a rough day. Thanks to the video camera Gord Cooper bought for his family, we get to see it all. This movie has an impressive cast of Canadian actors including co-writer Jason Jones, as well as his Daily Show co-star (and real life wife) Samantha Bee. There are a few more names that will be recognizable for fans of Canadian TV like Peter Keleghan and Jennifer Baxter and the highlight of the movie could be a very revealing performance by Dave Foley. On the other hand, it is a Canadian movie, so most people north of the border will have to wait until the home market to see it, while those in the United States will likely have to import it when it hits DVD. Coopers' Camera opens on Friday at the Granville Cinemas in Vancouver and The AMC in Toronto.

The Princess and the Frog - Reviews
If you only pay attention to one limited release this week, it will likely be this one. The return of Disney to traditional animation. Sort of. It's actually a hybrid between cell animation and computer animation, which is not surprising, as computers have been aiding in traditional animation for at least 20 years, beginning with Oliver & Company. However, since Disney announced they were closing down their traditional animation department, there is a lot riding on the success of this movie. Fortunately, they started with a great story and the vast majority of critics think the end product is worth it. In fact, there's an excellent chance the film could pick an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature-Length Film, and a good chance it could pick up additional nominations in other categories. As for its box office chances, it should have the highest per theater average for any film this year, and there's a slim chance it could earn more than the other four limited releases at the box office during the weekend, which is impressive as The Road is playing in more than 100 theaters and this one is playing in just two. Those two theaters are the Walt Disney Studios Main Theatre in Burbank, California and the Clearview Ziegfeld in New York City.

Me and Orson Welles - Reviews
Zac Efron stars as the titular "Me," a recent high school grad who bluffs his way into a role on Broadway in a play being directed by a pre-fame Orson Welles. This coming of age story is directed by Richard Linklater, who was recently informed his upcoming Liars (A-E) is no longer upcoming, as the studio's operating budget was slashed and his film was one of the casualties. Given the reviews, it has a good chance at expanding significantly, but there's not a lot of crossover appeal between Zac Efron's 'tween fanbase and a period piece about the behind-the-scenes machinations of 1937 Broadway, so mainstream success is probably not on the cards. Me and Orson Welles opens tonight in four theaters, two in New York City and two in the Los Angeles area.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Reviews
Robin Wright Penn stars as Pippa Lee, a woman married to the much older Herb Lee. After her husband moves them to a retirement community, she has to deal with the her comfortable life unraveling. If this was a wide release, then its reviews would be a major selling point, but they are just below the level normally associated with success in limited release. Then again, it does have an impressive cast and there is a lot of praise being heaped on the performances, so there's a good chance it will at least hold its own over the holiday season. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee opened on Friday in 10 theaters mostly spread throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but also in the Los Angeles area.

The Road - Reviews
This post-apocalyptic road trip movie boasts some impressive performances, but many critics complain that it is unrelentingly depressing, moves too slowly, and doesn't have a major pay-off for those who endure to the end. It is also the widest limited release of the week but opens with the weakest reviews; granted, 70% positive would be great for most wide releases, but it is sub-par for a limited release. Add in a theater count of 111 and I have a hard time believing it will be a major hit. It could surprise and earn $1 million over its opening 5-day weekend, but there's also a chance it will miss the Mendoza line over the 3-day weekend.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Me and Orson Welles, The Road, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Princess and the Frog