The Weinstein Co. launched The Railway Man in four cinemas in New York and Los Angeles last Friday, posting solid but not spectacular figures.
One US film commentator said Jonathan Teplitzky’s drama, which stars Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine and Nicole Kidman, opened well enough to guarantee it will expand throughout the US; it’s scheduled to bow in the top 10 markets next Friday and thereafter go much wider.
The 3-day gross was $US61,845 for a per-screen average of $15,461. The best of the new limited releases was Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, which raked in $88,000 at four theatres; it opens in Oz on Thursday via Madman Entertainment.
Thompson on Hollywood’s Anne Thompson reckoned The Railway Man’s figures show it has the potential of “becoming a higher-than-average general release film.”
Thompson added, “Its subject matter – a British WWII ex-POW dealing with the trauma of his ordeal years later and trying to confront his torturer – doesn't have quite the appeal of the other more contemporary, sassier successes. But with the added draw of Nicole Kidman in a supporting role, this should get the full Weinstein treatment.”
TWC president of theatrical distribution Erik Lomis described the opening as “respectable” and noted it's drawing a mostly older audience, as expected. “There’s some images that are disturbing, but it’s very relevant today with current events in Fort Hood,” Lomis told Deadline.com, drawing a very long bow in comparing the WWII drama to the shootings at a Texas army base.
“What we learned from the UK and Australia was that the midweek grosses were about as good as the weekends. So we’re just going to let it roll. There was more than a 100% jump at the Paris Theatre [In New York] and big jumps at Angelika from Friday to Saturday.”
The latest batch of US reviews was mixed. The New York Times’ Stephen Holden described it as an ”an unabashedly stodgy, high-minded film in the David Lean tradition (without the grandeur)."
Holden continued, "In the early scenes, Mr. Firth’s eyes convey a profound hurt barely camouflaged by a sardonic joviality. Later in the film, they signal a cold, murderous hatred, and even later, something more complex. His performance is all the more convincing for its understatement. That modesty prevents The Railway Man from turning mawkishly sentimental once Lomax embraces the concept of forgiveness, and you can believe it’s possible."
USA Today’s Claudia Puig opined, “For a well-acted movie about the horrors of war and the lure of revenge, it's surprisingly dull and starchy (**1/2 out of four).”
The New York Post Kyle Smith said: “Colin Firth plays a choo-choo lover and ex-World War II prisoner of war who finds his two great obsessions neatly joining in the trite, hokey message movie The Railway Man.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern said “the ghastly realities of the labour camp are undercut by self-consciously stylized storytelling in the British sequences, with their glib formulations of love leading to personal peace and allowing forgiveness.”