It's been more than a year since Anchor Bay Entertainment decided to reinvent itself. Rather than handle low-budget genre titles, the subsidiary of Overture Films moved into the specialized film business, looking for small movies (often those with festival pedigrees) that might benefit from a limited theatrical release. "We are looking for great independent films, great stories and great casts," says President Bill Clark.
The early returns from the new plan weren't particularly impressive. The Sundance title "Frozen" grossed just $246,000, while the AFI Film Festival feature "After.Life" sold just $107,000 in tickets. But as we write about in this week's Word of Mouth column, Anchor Bay now might have its first real hit, the Andy Garcia family dramedy "City Island." Even though the film is in just a handful of theaters, its per-screen averages have actually increased from week to week, a testament to the film's positive word of mouth.
This weekend, the movie moves into wide national release, trying to continue to ride a wave of enthusiastic moviegoer buzz since opening March 19.
It may not be "Iron Man 2," but "City Island" looks like a minor audience sensation.
Photo of Andy Garcia in "City Island." Credit: Phillip V. Caruso / Overture Films