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Limited and VOD Releases: Shining a Spotlight on Limited Releases

November 6th, 2015


It is a short list this week, due to technical considerations. However, there are seven films here that are earning good reviews and some measure of pre-release buzz. The film with the best shot at mainstream success is Brooklyn (Reviews). It isn't the only film that could succeed, as Spotlight, Trumbo, and the rest could also find receptive audiences during Awards Season.

Brooklyn - Reviews
Saoirse Ronan stars as a young woman who immigrates from Ireland to the United States during the 1950s. At first, she struggles with her new life, but then she begins to build something new for herself. The reviews are nearly prefect and Saoirse Ronan is earning serious Oscar-buzz for her performance. Of all of the films on this week's list, this one has the best shot at mainstream success.

In Jackson Heights - Reviews
A documentary about Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in Queens, said to be among the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the United States. The film looks at not only how this diversity brings its own challenges, but also how it is also a major strength for the community. The reviews are unanimously positive, but it isn't the only documentary on this week's list that can boast that claim.

Miss You Already - Reviews
Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette play lifelong friends in this film. The reviews are overall positive, but not overwhelmingly so. The number one complaint seems to be that the movie crosses the line from emotional to emotionally manipulative a number of times. I don't think that's going to be a problem for its target audience. It's being sold as a tearjerker, so it comes with the territory. Unfortunately, there are a few other films on this week's list earning better reviews and / or louder buzz, so it could slip between the cracks.

Palio - Reviews
A documentary about the world's oldest horse race that takes place in Siena, Italy. The reviews are unanimously positive at the moment, but even under the best of circumstances, documentaries rarely have breakout success in theaters. It should find a receptive audience on the home market.

Spotlight - Reviews
A film about the real-life story of the child abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church and how investigative journalism helped crack that story and bring it to light. The cast is amazing, as are the reviews, but this is not a story that has obvious mainstream appeal. It will need to do well during Awards Season if it is going to find an audience in theaters. Unfortunately, it will need to find a substantial audience in theaters for enough Awards Season voters to have seen it in order to vote for it during Awards Season. It's a catch 22.

Theeb - Reviews
This is a foreign-language film from Jordan. Normally foreign-language films have very little chance of finding an audience in theaters, even on the art house circuit. However, this film's reviews are so strong that it could appear on the Oscar Shortlist for Best Foreign-Language Film next month. It could even earn one of the five nominations. Unfortunately, that will likely take too long to really have an effect on the film's box office chances.

Trumbo - Reviews
Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter, blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s. He can't officially write anymore, but is he still in demand and figures out a way to get around the law. The film has an stellar cast and even earned some pre-release Oscar buzz. However, while the reviews started off amazingly, they have since cooled to just above the overall positive level. The film could still find an audience in limited release thanks to its starpower, but I don't expect it to expand truly wide.

Filed under: Limited Releases, Trumbo, Spotlight, Brooklyn, Theeb, In Jackson Heights, Miss You Already, Palio, Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Bryan Cranston, Saoirse Ronan