Monday, December 25, 2006

Limited releases everywhere

I usually talk about wide releases, so I figure it's time we recognize some films in limited release around the world.

Olivier Marchal's 36 Quai des Orfevres, which I saw in Hong Kong in March 2005 (and was quick to be compared to Infernal Affairs), is currently in fairly successful limited run in Tokyo. Playing in one theater, it found an audience of 1200 over its two-day opening weekend, earning 1,700,000 yen. If that doesn't sound very impressive by pure numbers, look at the theater - one-screen, 150-seat theater, showing the film 4 times a day. 1200 people, divided by 8 shows (over two days), and that an average of 150 people per showing. Personally, I think the film had a very good script supported by strong performances, but bogged down by a lack of fluid pacing and distracting music cues. Still, it's great to see any film score such a strong opening weekend.

(source: Eiga Consultant)

Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima and Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower also faced off in limited release this past weekend in America. Since CURSE was on 60 screens and LETTERS was only on 5, the only way to declare a winner is to look at per-screen average. While the estimates show a LETTERS win with a US$15, 300 per-screen average (and CURSE getting only 8,150), both films can be considered disappointments. LETTERS is nowhere near some of the biggest limited opening weekends for foreign films - Motorcycle Diaries had a 53, 273 per-screen, and even House of Flying Daggers had a 26498 per-screen in 15 theaters. Maybe as the awards continue to roll in for LETTERS, its performance will get better. I would've seen it on Wednesday, but I didn't even know it had come out in San Francisco because I haven't seen one ad for it.

(source: Box Office Mojo)

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