After months of films with mostly older-audience appeal playing off during the awards circus, Fox Searchlight's "Stoker," a stylish thriller from a noted Asian cult director making his English-language debut, boasted the best limited opening of any 2013 release so far. Although not performing at the initial level of most recent Oscar nominees or other hits like "Quartet," this marks a pleasant surprise despite less-than-stellar reviews.
"Stoker" (Fox Searchlight) - Metacritic score: 59; Festivals include: Sundance 2013, Rotterdam 2013
$158,000 in 7 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $22,500
Korean master Park Chan-wook's first American film earned reviews below his earlier efforts ("Old Boy," "Lady Vengeance") but managed a decent start, backed by a strong campaign and booked in top theaters. Fox Searchlight went to five cities rather than the normal platform of two, a risky strategy that usually reduces the PSA. In this case, even with the slightly wider release, it achieved the highest specialized PSA of the year so far.
Starring Nicole Kidman (continuing her risk-taking choices that include recent "The Paperboy" and "Rabbit Hole"), the horror thriller was launched in the Premiere section at Sundance. The first from that group to be released theatrically, it is performing (accounting for different theater counts) a bit below the level of two earlier Searchlight films -- "Cedar Rapids" and "Win Win" -- that also had a similar Park City presentation on their way to $6.8 and $10.1 million ultimate takes.
After their modest (but disappointing compared to expectations) take from "Hitchcock," Searchlight is pushing this as the sort of intricate creepy thriller specialized in by the master. Whether younger upscale audiences will take to this remains to be seen beyond this initial positive opening, but Searchlight deserves credit for getting this initial sampling with one of their lesser critically-supported efforts.
What comes next: After modest expansions in its current cities, this will roll out wider by mid-month. Whether this deserves a multi-hundred theater break with the extra marketing expense that requires remains to be seen.
Worldwide gross: $2,642,488 [Source]
Can't believe there hasn't been a new Park Chan-wook / "Stoker" article since my last post about it!! A really stylish and disturbing dramatic horror/thriller film that I really advise everyone to check out. There is also a really nice Matthew Goode interview you can read here, (who absolutely stands out in this film).