Art House Wars
So this is the time of year when the "good" movies come out, the ones that actually need strong reviews and to build word of mouth to really succeed.
The ones that open in a handful of theaters, usually in Los Angeles and New York. If they do well in those runs, they expand to more markets and theaters; if they don't, they quickly disappear, and show up three months later on DVD.
Sadly, one of the season's earliest casualities is John August's THE NINES, which despite some very good reviews just never found an audience. It won't be coming to a theater near you.
Currently, there are a lot of good and semi-good movies in art houses/prestige theaters, fighting to be the one to get its chance to jump to thousands of screens. This past weekend was a big test for many.
The biggest success was INTO THE WILD, which averaged over $51,000 per theater, in only 4 theaters.
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES averaged a solid $28,800 per theater, in 5 theaters.
Everything else pretty much tanked. There are a lot of movie corpses littering the landscape today.
EASTERN PROMISES expanded to 1404 theaters, and did $5.7 million, an average of just over $4000 per theater. Not terrible, but not good.
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH expanded to 317 theaters, and only did about $1.3 million. Its chances of expanding much farther are pretty grim.
Headed for oblivion is THE HUNTING PARTY, which jumped from 40 to 329 theaters, but only averaged about $1000 per screen. Gone.
KING OF CALIFORNIA jumped from 5 to 18 screens, but only averaged $2000 per screen. Gone.
FIERCE PEOPLE jumped from 5 to 25 screens, but only averaged $1000 a screen. Gone.
DEDICATION jumped from 2 to 8 theaters, but only averaged about $1200. Gone.
Moderately more successful was ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, which did over $2 million in only 276 theaters, an average of over $7000 a theater. Still, that movie has gotten enough bad reviews to make its future prospects a bit dubious.
The same goes for THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, which opened in 25 theaters, but only averaged a little over $6000 per screen. Those aren't numbers that will get anyone excited.
Among the big openers, RESIDENT EVIL did a surprising $24 million. GOOD LUCK CHUCK did a solid $14 million. SYDNEY WHITE managed $5.3 million.
Look for all three to fall off big next weekend.