The Indie Week That Was

By Michael Lynderey

May 21, 2009

He had a rough night of driving a golf cart around a neighborhood.

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The Limits of Control, on the other hand, comes equipped with a two decade-long indie film pedigree. It is, after all, the latest film by Jim Jarmusch, purveyor of avant-garde mood pieces like Stranger than Paradise, Ghost Dog and, most recently, the excellent Broken Flowers. This one even features two cast members from that latter film, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, in bit parts. Although Jarmusch productions usually range between highly and exceptionally praised, Limits fell on the lower ebb, garnering 32% on Rotten Tomatoes and, accompanying a hilarious review, a rating of half of one star from Roger Ebert. The apparently plot-less film, about a mysterious character traveling through desolate locations, is typical Jarmusch road trip territory, but I guess he dropped the ball on this one. Still, the Jarmusch name is usually enough to awaken the interest of art house connoisseurs, and indeed the three theater opening generated a terrific average gross of $18,607. Usually, when a movie opens with an average that high, even in only a handful of screens, it's got a mandate to expand to possibly as many as a hundred theaters. In this case, though, it looks like the word-of-mouth got out - the week two expansion to 11 screens dipped the average gross to the $4,000s, and by week three, the movie was only generating a per-theater average of a little over $2,000 from 21 locations. Using basic math, one can imagine what misfortunes will befall the per-theater-gross if the screen count dares to double again.


Speaking of indie filmmakers - Atom Egoyan, the man responsible for a few of Canada's few critically praised recent films, had a new one out, too. Adoration, which follows a typically odd Egoyan premise - something about a high school student's class assignment and the strange path it leads his family on. Egoyan had a few very well-reviewed movies in the 1990s, like Exotica and the Sweet Hereafter, but the 2000s seem to have dipped him into less praised waters, with his Ararat (2002) and Where the Truth Lies (2005) getting little notice, even on the indie scene. Yes, his new film did have 67% on RottenTomatoes, but Egoyan's name isn't what it used to be - and so the 10 theater opening weekend could only generate an average gross of $3,936. While that's not awful, it's a telling sign that the movie isn't going to have a long shelf life (the second week score, an average of $2,211 in 16 theaters, was confirmation of that fact).

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