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During Week of Flops, Micro-Budget 'Cloud' Breaks Records

by Hooper Bellochio
 

 
October 25, 2015

With last week's toppers The Martian and Goosebumps holding on to their box office spots, this weekend saw four new wide releases fall far short of their predictions.   

Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter couldn't hunt down many moviegoers while the latest film from the Paranormal Activity franchise was unable to stir much activity, even with a new release strategy. And in the complete flop category, neither Jem and the Holograms nor Rock the Kasbah could climb over the $1.5 million mark. 

For a more detailed report on the disastrous weekend you can find our write-up here. In fact the only positive stories come from the specialty and limited release categories, where A Wonderful Cloud, a film with an obscure pedigree broke into the record books. 

Garnering a three-day cume of $81,226 from just one theater, Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, California, the independent rom-com put out domestically by FilmBuff, broke the single-theater weekend record for Southern California and surpassed Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda to become the second highest grossing single-theater domestic opening of all-time. Only Kevin Smith's notoriously self-distributed Red State, had a bigger three days. That's a daily average of a whopping $27,075.

Coming in with a reported budget of less than 50k and reportedly no marketing dollars spent, it's presumed that there must have been immense organic interest in the film and very strong local word of mouth. Receipts were helped by a speedy runtime of 81 minutes, which allowed it to play 5 times a day to packed houses, with some moviegoers reportedly standing in the back for the entirety. 

Reviews for the film by Eugene Kotlyarenko have been appropriately polarized. Variety celebrated it as "a 21st Century Annie Hall" while the Hollywood Reporter decried it as "a clot of ugly people wearing stupid clothes in crass situations." In a show of divisiveness that indicates just how hotly the film splits viewers, the LA Times correspondent for KPCC's weekly film show The Frame said it was "a romantic comedy like the Holy Roman Empire. It is neither romantic nor comedic." On the other hand the film critic for the same newspaper assessed that it "works well" and proclaimed it had "a welcome slapdash fringe-iness." It's possible this sort of lightning bolt reaction is among the reasons why so many have turned out for the film. Overall the CinemaGrade Scorecard gives it an 88 out of 100.

In a reversal of most industry wisdom, the date-and-day iTunes/VOD release, which has become standard for boutique roll-outs, has clearly not deterred theater attendance. Although we are told streaming figures have been quite healthy too, exceeding initial expectations. Presumably this has been helped by a pricing deal arranged by iTunes, with a discounted rental price of 99 cents. 

The film was initially supposed to open in two markets, before continuing it's life through streaming services and home video. However, after a last-minute ban from the State Censorship Board, the New York run was scrapped. This too may have galvanized Southern California audiences to take advantage of their unique opportunity to see a very small story on the big screen. The distributor reports that a single-screening is in the works for New York this Wednesday October 28th, but there will be no tallies, as it must remain free for legal reasons related to said ban. 

As of right now, A Wonderful Cloud will close it's run this Thursday after the 10:15pm screening. Asked whether they would extend or expand the run based on these box-office results, a rep for FilmBuff said that the filmmaker "prefers to go out on top."

You can browse the complete weekend results right here and we'll have weekend actuals Monday afternoon.

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