Almodóvar's a hit in U.S., while 'The Artist' does well in France
Two movies by foreign filmmakers found success in two very different parts of the world this weekend.
"The Skin I Live In," the latest movie from Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar, got off to a strong start in the U.S. And "The Artist," a silent film written and directed by a Frenchman, had a robust debut in France.
Almodóvar's picture, starring Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon who is keeping a woman captive in his house, collected $230,979 this weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures Classics. The movie played in six theaters, meaning it had a solid average of $38,497 in each establishment.
The filmmaker's movies have long resonated with the American art-house crowd. And while "The Skin I Live In" performed well this weekend, some Almodóvar films have done even better at the box office in recent years. His last film, 2009's "Broken Embraces," starring Penélope Cruz as a woman caught up in a volatile relationship, debuted in two theaters and averaged $53,556 in each, ultimately grossing about $31 million worldwide. His biggest hit to date has been "Volver," which also features Cruz. The movie, about a woman trying to protect her teenager daughter, collected $85.6 million globally in 2006.
"The Artist" is being released by the Weinstein Co. in the U.S., but Warner Bros. acquired distribution rights in France, where the movie was No. 1 this weekend with $3.3 million in ticket sales. In addition to being made by Michel Hazanavicius, a French filmmaker, "The Artist" also stars two French actors, so it makes sense that the movie would perform well in the country.
The solid foreign debut for the film could be an indication that it may have some commercial appeal. The movie about an aging silent film star debuted to tremendous buzz at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and many pundits believe it may already be a shoo-in for a best picture nomination at the Academy Awards next year. Still, it remains to be seen if a broad audience in the U.S. will embrace a film with no dialogue. The movie hits theaters stateside on Nov. 23.
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: Antonio Banderas stars with Elena Anaya in "The Skin I Live In." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics