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Limited and VOD Releases: Exorcising Your Options

July 24th, 2015

The Vatican Tapes

Every once and a while, I feel the need to apologize for the pun in the headline. This is one of those weeks. It is also one of those weeks where I can't find a limited release that has a good chance at earning some mainstream success. Unexpected is the biggest release, but its reviews suggest it will do better on Video on Demand than in theaters. There are a few documentaries that might do well on the art house circuit, but it is unlikely that any have what it takes to find mainstream success.

10 Cent Pistol - Reviews
Video on Demand
Two brothers caught up in crime have to deal with the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. Its reviews are not good enough to thrive in limited release, but it could do well on VOD.

American Heist - Reviews
Video on Demand
Two brother, Adrien Brody and Hayden Christensen, plan one last heist that will hopefully allow them to retire. Good cast, terrible reviews, playing on VOD. This film cost $10 million to make, which either means the studio was planning on releasing it wide, but something went wrong, or the VOD market has grown to the point where a studio can recoup that much money on VOD alone.

Big Significant Things - Reviews
Video on Demand
A man lies to his girlfriend so he can go on a solo road trip. The reviews are terrible and it is playing on VOD. As a result, its box office potential is negligible.

Capital C - Reviews
Video on Demand
A documentary about crowdfunding that itself was crowdfunded. There are only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and they are not overwhelmingly positive. Also, like most films on this week's list, it is playing on VOD.

Dark was the Night - Reviews
Video on Demand
A horror film earning weak reviews that is also playing on VOD. ... Moving on.

Five Star - Reviews
Video on Demand
This movie focuses on Primo, a real-life gang leader in New York City. In the movie, he takes a young man under his wings, after this man's father dies. He also contemplates leaving gang life to be a better husband and father. The reviews are very good, but the film is playing on VOD, just not on

A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile - Reviews
Video on Demand
A documentary about Amina Arraf, a lesbian blogger living in Syria. Her blogs captured the world's attention, especially when she was allegedly captured by the Syrian secret police. However, it turned out she didn't exist. That's a great hook. The reviews are just as good, but it is playing on the SundanceNow Doc Club, so its box office chances are very limited.

Horse Money - Reviews
A documentary by Pedro Costa, who again looks in on the lives of the poor and troubled. His style is not easily accessible, but this film is certainly enthralling the critics. Horse Money opens tonight at the Film Society Lincoln Center in New York City with a couple of other screenings scheduled in the future. Check out the official site for more details.

Lucky Stiff - Reviews
Video on Demand
A man has to take the corpse of his dead uncle to Monte Carlo in order to collect his inheritance. If I recall correctly, conditions like that are not legally enforceable in a will. Regardless, the film's reviews are too weak to expect it to have any shot at box office success. On the other, the reviews are acceptable for a rental.

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker - Reviews
I'm 90% sure we've already talked about this film in this column. It is a biography of Sophie Tucker, a major Vaudeville star, whose career that lasted from the early 1900s to the beginning of the age of television. The reviews are excellent and it has a chance to do well for a documentary. The Outrageous Sophie Tucker opens tonight in eight theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area. Check out the official site for more details.

Jian Bing Man - No Reviews
This Chinese film opened huge in its native market last weekend, but I'm not sure about its chances here. It is about a filmmaker trying to finish his film in spite of having no more money to do so. He tries to get big stars in his film by using "guerrilla filming techniques", or as the law would describe it, "felony assault". This means the film has lots a cameos, but the drawing power won't extend here.

Samba - Reviews
A French film about a illegal immigrant who has dreams of becoming a chef. It wasn't a major hit in France and its limited release prospects here are even weaker, because its reviews are only good and not great. On the other hand, it was written and directed by the same people who make Les Intouchables, so that might give it a boost here.

Smosh: The Movie - Reviews
Video on Demand
This film only has one review, so normally I would have ignored it. However, it is the latest in a string of films featuring YouTube stars and this could become an important genre of film.

Unexpected - Reviews
Video on Demand
Cobie Smulders stars as a teacher who learns she is pregnant. She also learns that one of her students, Gail Bean, is pregnant as well. They bond over their shared situation. This is arguably the biggest new limited release of the week, but its box office chances are terrible. Firstly, its reviews are good, but not great. Secondly, it is playing on VOD. That said, its certainly worth renting if you want to say home over the weekend.

The Vatican Tapes - Reviews
At the beginning of the month, there was a chance this film would open wide. It didn't. It is a horror film opening in limited release, which is bad. It is a horror film opening in limited release, which is terrible. At least it is not also a VOD release, because that would have been strike three. On the positive side, at least it stars Olivia Taylor Dudley from five-second films.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Vatican Tapes, Samba, Cavalo Dinheiro, The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, Dark Was the Night, Smosh: The Movie, American Heist, Five Star, Unexpected, 10 Cent Pistol, A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile, Capital C, Lucky Stiff, Big Significant Things, Jian Bing Man, Adrien Brody, Hayden Christensen, Cobie Smulders, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Pedro Costa, Grant James, Sophie Tucker, James 'Primo' Grant, Gail Bean