24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Babies

Mixed results for summer's specialty releases so far

May 25, 2010 |  2:10 pm

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We know that "Shrek Forever After" is off to a slow start, "MacGruber" is an unmitigated bomb, and "Iron Man 2" has surpassed $250 million in domestic theaters. Not surprisingly, the results are just as varied at the art house, where the gap between the haves and have-nots is equally wide.

While a number of highly touted specialized film titles have yet to premiere--Focus Features' "The Kids Are All Right" lands in theaters on July 9, while Music Box's "The Girl Who Played With Fire" opens on July 2--it's not too early to spot the early season's hits and misses.

Perhaps the biggest surprises so far are two documentaries about very different subjects: Focus' "Babies" (with a domestic gross of $5.1 million in three weeks of release) and Producers Distribution Agency's self-released "Exit Through the Gift Shop," which has sold more than $1.6 million in tickets in six weeks of limited release in only 45 locations.

"Babies," which has no narration, follows small children from four different corners of the globe and is playing in 553 locations.

"Gift Shop," a world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is a documentary made by (and, intermittently, about) the English street artist Banksy. "Gift Shop" has been playing strongly in markets as diverse as Pasadena, Denver, Detroit, Austin and Boston. PDA, a distribution concern created by the film's sales agents after the film failed to land a big Sundance deal, has yet to take "Gift Shop" to smaller markets, where the film's arty appeal could prove a trickier sale.

Among other successful art house releases, Sony Pictures Classics' Oscar-winning foreign film "The Secret in Their Eyes" has grossed $2.7 million in six weeks, Anchor Bay's "City Island" is approaching $4.2 million in 10 weeks, and Music Box's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" stands close to $6.3 million after premiering 10 weeks ago. 

The summer's specialized film underachievers so far include Reliance Big Media's "Kites" (the Bollywood movie grossed a modest $959,000 in its premiere weekend), Magnolia's "Casino Jack and the United States of Money" ($96,000 in three weeks in theaters), Apparition's "The Runaways" ($3.6 million, despite once playing in more than 200 locations with lots of free publicity) and IFC Films' "Looking for Eric" (a mere $20,000 in two weeks). 

--John Horn

Photo of Banksy in "Exit Through the Gift Shop" from Producers Distribution Agency



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