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Is Bollywood Ready for the Big Time?

November 9th, 2007

An even dozen limited releases this week and strangely they are even divided between the films playing in just a few theaters or less, and those playing in a couple dozen theaters or more. Included in the latter group is Saawariya, the first Bollywood film released by a major studio, and No Country for Old Men, a serious Oscar contender.

Choking Man - Reviews
Written and directed by Steve Barron, who is best known for his work in music videos, including Bryan Adams's Reckless and A-Ha's Take on Me, although he has directed movies before including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Electric Dreams. The film is earning strong reviews from the cream-of-the-crop critics, but not so much from the regulars. Choking Man opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

The Education of Charlie Banks - No Reviews
A coming of age story set in an upstate New York college during the 1980s. The film stars a number of up and coming actors, including Jesse Eisenberg, Chris Marquette, Jason Ritter, and Eva Amurri. However, there are no reviews and no buzz, which means there is little chance it will be a box office hit. The Education of Charlie Banks opened on Wednesday at the The Movie on Exchange in Portland, Oregon.

Holly - Reviews
A movie about child prostitution starring newcomer Thuy Nguyen as the titular character. A very difficult subject, the film will be aided by its strong reviews; however, there is little chance the film will reach outside the art house circuit, if it even survives there. Holly opens tonight at the Clearview's 62nd & Broadway in New York City.

I'll Believe You - No Reviews
A comedy about a late night radio host who caters to conspiracy nuts. Originally called First Time Caller, this sci-fi spoof has struggled to make it to theaters, but it certainly has the potential to become a bit of a cult hit on the home market. Unfortunately, most people won't get a chance to see till it does reach the home market. I'll Believe You opens tonight in 30 theaters nationwide.

The Life of Reilly - Reviews
An autobiographical account of the under-appreciated performer, Charles Nelson Reilly, who sadly passed away earlier this year. A fascinating storyteller, this film should be of interest to anyone who knows the actor from his numerous, and I mean numerous, TV appearances, (Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space' is arguably the best X-Files episode during its entire 9-year run). The Life of Reilly opens tonight at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles before expanding next week to New York City, Atlanta, Cambridge, etc.

National Lampoon Presents Electric Apricot - No Reviews
Considering how bad National Lampoon films have been recently, I'm amazed they are even putting their name in the title. That said, while there are no reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, there is some very positive reviews out there. ... Or should I say review. There is also a very negative review leading me to believe this movie has cult potential but will not earn an audience till after it debuts on Comedy Central shortly. In the meantime, National Lampoon Presents Electric Apricot opens tonight in more than two dozen theaters nationwide.

No Country for Old Men - Reviews
There have been a lot of films that looked like Oscar contender on paper than failed to live up to those expectations on film. This is not one of those films. In fact, this is arguably the best film the Coen brothers have made since Fargo, and that movie earned seven nominations and two wins. Early buzz says that not only can this film outperform Fargo with critics, it could top it at the box office as well. Fargo opened in 1996 is more theater earning over $700,000 during its first week of limited release. No Country for Old Men opens tonight in 28 theaters and is tracking to hit $1 million over the weekend. That's a lot of pressure to perform, but if it can match those numbers, it will have an excellent shot of expanding wide right in the middle of award season.

Om Shanti Om - No Reviews
Unlike the next film on this week's list. This is the typical Indian release opening with no reviews, no buzz, etc. It is also the widest limited release of the week at over 100 theaters and should do well with its target audience.

Saawariya - Reviews
The first Bollywood film to be released by a major studio. It is not a surprise that this would happen, however, since these films have been strong performers in niche markets for a while now. In fact, with films like Bollywood/Hollywood and Bride and Prejudice earning some degree of mainstream success, I'm surprised it took this long for Hollywood studios to attempt to earn a slice of that box office pie. Saawariya opens tonight in 85 theaters, and with more promotion than most similar films have to deal with, it could be a surprise hit.

Steal a Pencil for Me - Reviews
A documentary about a Holocaust survivor who was held in a concentration camp with his wife, and his girlfriend. The movie looks at these horrible events from one of the darkest periods of human history in a fresh light, which is something that is surprising a lot of critics. Steal a Pencil for Me opens tonight in three theaters, two in the Los Angeles area and the other in New York City.

War Dance - Reviews
A documentary about three refugees in Uganda who compete in their nation's music and dance festival. The film is only earning mixed reviews, at least compared to the level needed to escape the art house circuit. War Dance opens tonight in four theaters, half which are in New York City.


Filed under: No Country for Old Men, Om Shanti Om, Saawariya, Holly, War Dance, The Life of Reilly, Steal a Pencil for Me, The Education of Charlie Banks, I'll Believe You, Choking Man, Electric Apricot