Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The third full weekend of January is relatively quiet for newcomers in the specialty market. Two features are among the titles hitting a limited number of theaters including New Yorker Films’ Cannes 2011 title Hors Satan by French filmmaker Bruno Dumont. The distributor admitted that finding exhibitors was a challenge and illustrated how art house cinema has changed. Also headed to theaters is Sheldon Candis’ Luv via Indomina which is partnering with AMC Independent for its limited theatrical run.

Aside from those newcomers, the Weinstein Company is capitalizing on its eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director for Silver Linings Playbook this weekend. TWC’s decision to open more slowly than originally planned for David O. Russell’s film appears to have paid off. The title initially bowed in 16 cinemas with a solid $27,688 average, not spectacular for a film that had a heavy dosage of awards buzz but good. The following week, the title added 351 runs and earned a decent $11,945 average and added more theaters afterward. Over the New Year’s weekend it added 374 more theaters taking SLP’s count to 745 and the result was an uptick in its per screen average over the previous week to $5,476 and it placed 12th in the overall box office. The following week, it averaged $4,855, while last weekend it added 65 locations, again seeing a jump in its revenue (38.8%) and its PTA at $6,196. Plus it rose to No. 10 at the overall box office. Silver Linings Playbook will expand to a total of 2,523 theaters this weekend.

Hors Satan (Outside Satan)
Director-writer: Bruno Dumont
Cast: David Dewaele, Alexandra Lematre, Christophe Bon, Juliette Bacquet
Distributor: New Yorker Films

French-born director Bruno Dumont won a Grand Prize of the Jury in 2006 for Flanders and a Camera d’Or for his 1997 feature The Life Of Jesus in addition to other recognition at festivals around the world. Yet his latest film, Hors Satan, in the opinion of New Yorker Films, outstrips them all, and yet booking the movie has been tough. “In spite of Hors Satan being Dumont’s best-reviewed film to date, I’ve found most bookers — even in usually intrepid New York City — extremely [and] perhaps overly cautious about taking on such challenging material,” said Jonathan Howell, New Yorker Films’ VP Theatrical Distribution & Acquisitions. “Yet if you think of this film coming out 10 years ago, it would have fit right in at nearly every art house theater across the country. It’s just another indication of the sea change in specialty cinema in the past few years.” The drama, which debuted at Cannes in May 2011 and screened that September at the Toronto Film Festival, follows a drifter in a coastal French village who embarks on a strange relationship with a young woman who has suffered abuse.

Hor Satan plays New York City’s Film Forum this weekend and will screen at the Harvard Film Archives in Boston beginning February 1st and in Seattle at the Northwest Film Forum March 1st. Plans include runs in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Los Angeles as well as other major markets, but dates are pending. “As you can see from even those two confirmed venues, this film seems likely to gravitate toward cinematheques and independent theaters, unless the critical response is so overwhelming as to make it a “must-see” film,” added Howell. “We are, of course, hoping for that to happen, so stay tuned over the next week. As we like to say, we’ll know a lot more on Monday.”

Director co-writer: Sheldon Candis
Co-writer Justin Wilson
Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton
Distributor: Indomina

Specialty outfit Indomina caught wind of Sheldon Candis’ Luv last year at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. “There was buzz on it and we were attracted to it,” Indomina exec Bruce Kirkland said. “From the CEO on down, we all went for it.” Indomina formally picked up the title post-festival, selling the filmmakers on a theatrical run and their familiarity with the feature’s musical component. The drama centers on an 11-year-old boy who gets a crash course in becoming a man when he spends a day with his ex-convict uncle. “What I loved about it is that it’s an urban drama but has important messaging,” noted Kirkland. The urban audience will be Luv‘s core, according to Indomina, but it also foresees a bit of an art house crowd and BET has television rights. “We collapsed the windows on this film because we wanted to put a marketing umbrella across the platforms. BET and their television windows played into that but we’re very happy about the approach,” said Kirkland. AMC Independent is partnering on the film’s theatrical run. “They gave us mainstream windows and also their art house leaning theaters and then we’re coming reasonably quickly to DVD/VOD and the television component,” added Kirkland. Luv will open in 16 to 18 markets over the weekend in about 50 locations.