Cannes' arty class of '08 too cool for major play: small distribs squeeze B.O. from releases as studios mainly shy away.
Only two titles cumed north of $3 million: France's Oscar foreign-language nominee "The Class" ($3.6 million, still in release) and Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut "Synecdoche, New York" ($3.1 million).
Despite some star power (Gwyneth Paltrow) and some highly visible but strange publicity surrounding co-star Joaquin Phoenix right before the film's release, "Two Lovers" was perhaps too arty to do more major business beyond its $2.9 million gross.
Nabbing a foreign-language Oscar nomination boosted the profile of animated Israeli pic "Waltz With Bashir." Italian mob drama "Gomorrah" enjoyed some buzz but no Oscar nom.
"Two Lovers," among a handful of available U.S. titles unspooling in the 2008 Cannes competition--"Synecdoche" and Steven Soderbergh's "Che" included--was certainly high profile enough on paper but met with lukewarm responses. "Che" only found a buyer (IFC) months later.
Along with Sony Classics, IFC was one of the busiest buyers at Cannes last year. The distrib, which also does day-and-date VOD releasing, has seen a strong start for Brit Steve McQueen's "Hunger." Film has posted good per-location averages since Opening in early March.
Sony Classics' "Tyson," from director James Toback, scored a per-location average of $7,817.
There's nothing wrong with smaller grosses, but it's getting harder and harder to justify art-house acquisitions, particularly for the studio specialty labels such as Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and Miramax. For the most part, they left Cannes empty-handed last year.
Sony Classics and IFC are more nimble and able to pick up smaller or foreign-language fare that may catch fire during awards season but, in these tentpole times, might not spark big time at the box office.
Whether it's the smaller labels or studio arms that dominate this year's fest will depend on if the Croisette offers films with broader appeal, such as "We Own the Night," which cumed north of $28 million after Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired the pic out of the Cannes lineup in 2007.
PICKUPS ON REWIND Release date Title U.S. distrib ([dagger]) The Class Sony Classics Dec. 19 Synecdoche, New York Sony Classics Oct. 24 Two Lovers Magnolia Feb. 13 Waltz With Bashir Sony Classics Dec. 12 Che IFC Dec. 12 Gomorrah IFC Dec. 19 A Christmas Tale IFC Nov. 24 Wendy and Lucy Oscilloscope Dec. 10 Tokyo! Liberation March 6 Tokyo Sonata Regent March 13 Tyson Sony Classics April 24 Moscow, Belgium NeoClassics Feb. 20 Hunger IFC March 22 The Black Balloon NeoClassics March 15 Serbis Regent Jan.30 The Song of Sparrows Regent April 9 Il Divo Music Box April 24 Widest Domestic Title locations B.O.* The Class 125 3.7 mil Synecdoche, New York 119 3.1 mil Two Lovers 148 3.0 mil Waltz With Bashir 208 2.3 mil Che 39 1.7 mil Gomorrah 50 1.5 mil A Christmas Tale 57 1.1 mil Wendy and Lucy 40 866K Tokyo! 18 313K Tokyo Sonata 10 220K Tyson 11 205K Moscow, Belgium 15 198K Hunger 12 135K The Black Balloon 8 96K Serbis 4 63K The Song of Sparrows 4 55K Il Divo 2 50K ([dagger]) since late 2008 * as of May 4 Source: Rentrak; NeoClassics B.O. reported by distrib
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|Title Annotation:||ON THE CROISETTE|
|Date:||May 11, 2009|
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