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Four Films Fight for Limited Dollars

December 19th, 2003

This week four films open in limited release this week, but unlike the new films mentioned in the box office predictions these films don't have the marketing push behind them to get them on the charts. But they shouldn't be ignored by the general public either. So starting this week, every Friday I'll try and give a rundown of such films.

But before we get to the films, lets look at limited releases in general. When a film opens in limited release, it usually falls under one of four categories:

Prestige Opening: Mainstream Hollywood movie opening in a limited number of theatres to increase excitement.

Award Hopeful: As the name suggests, these films rely on awards, or at least nominations to get the publicity needed to reach a wider audience.

Art House: These films will never reach a wider audience since they are too avant garde, inaccessible or just plain weird to appeal to most people.

Niche Market: Because these films focus on such a narrow demographic, they can only play in cities with either a very large population or a disproportionately high amount of their target demographic.

This time of year most limited release films fall under the Award Hopeful category, but you do get the occasional example of other categories.

Calendar Girls - Reviews: Opening in 24 theatres, it has the widest release of any of the limited release films. It could also the most mainstream. Even if it doesn't find an audience here, its international performance has made it a hit.

The Fog of War - Reviews: As a documentary, it is automatically a niche market film. More people saw Lord of the Ring: Return of the King on Wednesday than see documentaries in the average year. But it is also an Award Hopeful, and given the early buzz it could pick up the Oscar on February 29th, 2004.

The Hebrew Hammer - Reviews: This is also a niche market film and one that has had a rather unique release schedule. It was actually shown on TV before it opened in theatres. Unlike the previous film, this movie has no pretensions about winning awards.

House of Sand and Fog - Reviews: Another award hopeful film, which has already picked up a Golden Globe nomination for star Ben Kingsley. Perhaps too emotionally involving for the average moviegoer who is looking for escapism, but should be given a chance.

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Filed under: Calendar Girls, House of Sand and Fog, The Hebrew Hammer