Out of all the specialty releases that have appeared in theaters -- including American indies, docs, and world cinema -- why is one standing out this summer as a "word-of-mouth" hit? That's how Steven Zeitchik in The Hollywood Reporter descibes Guillaume Canet's terrific French thriller Tell No One, which has grossed nearly $1.7 million since opening in New York and Los Angeles at the beginning of July.
Zeitchik provides background on distributor Music Box Films and its founder William Schopf and then says that strong reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker "certainly helped, particularly with the film's older demo." (Hmm, did someone take a poll?) He also speculates that press days for director Canet, its mystery/thriller genre, and timing -- an indie slipping between the cracks of the big summer movies -- may have been factors.
Tell No One opened the same July 4th holiday weekend as Hancock, and the mixed reviews for the Will Smith picture may indeed have pushed some folks to try the French flick. But The Wackness also opened that weekend, and despite some very good reviews and a smashing opening weekend, its per-screen average has declined as it has expanded across the country. More than one million dollars at the box office is a decent return for a rather desultory stoner period comedy-drama, in my opinion, though it's far less than others thought it could achieve. Still, why did Tell No One -- with, evidently, a substantially smaller marketing budget -- catch on and not The Wackness?