Oscilloscope announced over the weekend that the foreign documentary “Samsara” was their studio’s highest grossing film accumulating $1.8 million. This surpassed the $1.7 million gross of the dark psychological family drama “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Oscilloscope Laboratories is a film production and theatrical distribution recently by the late Adam Yauch of the musical group Beastie Boys. This was launched in order to maintain the “artistic integrity” of films that can sometimes get lost in the money making side of the Entertainment Industry. This is good news for a studio just a few year old. Here’s more information from their press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 14, 2012 HIT DOCUMENTARY SAMSARA BECOMES OSCILLOSCOPE’S HIGHEST-GROSSING FILM EVER THEATRICALLY (New York, NY) October 14, 2012 – Oscilloscope Laboratories’ release of Ron Fricke’s and Mark Magidson’s hit documentary SAMSARA (currently in theaters) has become the studio’s highest-grossing film since its inception in February 2008. This weekend, SAMSARA surpassed the company’s prior benchmark, 2011′s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, which totaled $1.74 MM at the domestic box office. SAMSARA marks the third collaboration between Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, whose award-winning films BARAKA and CHRONOS brought a new visual and musical artistry to theaters. Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary. It explores the wonders of our world, from the mundane to the miraculous, combining breathtaking images with transcendent music to create a unique and powerful experience that infuses the ancient with the modern.
SAMSARA opened in New York and Seattle on August 24th to the highest per-screen-average of any documentary released in 2012 and fifth highest of any film for the year at that time – an impressive $38,111 per screen. The critically-praised film expanded to Los Angeles the following week and then nationwide, where it continues to perform, with many theaters yet to open. The film has grossed over 1.8MM as of October 14, 2012 (the filmmaker’s previous effort, Baraka, took in $1.33MM by the end of its run).
Earlier this year, Oscilloscope’s release of SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, a documentary about the band LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’s final concert at Madison Square Garden, grossed over $500k in primarily one-night-only showings around the country. SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS was the first Oscilloscope release since executives Dan Berger and David Laub took over at the helm of the company in May, following the passing of company founder Adam Yauch and the departure of David Fenkel.
Dan Berger and David Laub said, “We couldn’t be more thrilled about the success of SAMSARA. It’s a great film that perfectly represents the kind of unique, audacious, and personal cinema for which Oscilloscope will always stand. SAMSARA’S box office is a testament not only to the brilliant film Ron and Mark have made, but also to the hard work of everyone at O-Scope. We will be celebrating with pizza and a clown.”
On working with O-scope, Mark Magidson said, “It has been a privilege to witness first hand the work ethic and dedication the entire Oscilloscope team has demonstrated. Dan and David have guided the company through challenging circumstances with enthusiasm, hard work, and professionalism.”
About Oscilloscope Laboratories: Oscilloscope Laboratories is a film production and theatrical distribution entity launched in 2008 by Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys. Yauch modeled the company after the indie record labels he grew up around, choosing films and then releasing them with the same artistic integrity with which they were made. The company, which is an extension of Yauch’s recording studio of the same name, has an in-house DVD distribution and production arm, and its paper packaging is reminiscent of the heyday of LP record jackets. All of the company’s plastic-free DVD packaging is printed on FSC Certified 80% post-consumer waste paper and produced in a carbon-neutral hydroelectric plant. Previous and current releases include Lynne Ramsay’s Golden Globe® Nominated WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and Ezra Miller; Marshall Curry’s Oscar-nominated documentary IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT; Oren Moverman’s Oscar-nominated THE MESSENGER starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton; Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF starring Michelle Williams; Evan Glodell’s Sundance hit BELLFLOWER; Kelly Reichardt’s WENDY & LUCY starring Michelle Williams; Anders Østergaard’s Oscar-nominated documentary BURMA VJ; Kurt Keunne’s acclaimed documentary DEAR ZACHARY; Bradley Rust Gray’s THE EXPLODING GIRL starring Zoe Kazan; Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s Oscar-nominated documentary THE GARDEN; Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace’s LCD Soundsystem documentary SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS; Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson’s SAMSARA; Andrea Arnold’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and Matt Ross’s 28 HOTEL ROOMS. Upcoming releases include the acclaimed documentaries TCHOUPITOULAS, by Bill and Turner Ross, and ONLY THE YOUNG, by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims; Todd Berger’s IT’S A DISASTER, starring David Cross, Julia Stiles, and America Ferrara; and Matteo Garrone’s Cannes Grand Prix-winner REALITY.
Ever since its debut in late August, “Samsara” has been overwhelmed with much love and admiration from art house dwellers who attend films to experience them. After my public screening of paying customers, the audience applauded at the end. This is an anomaly for a modern day audience to applaud a movie that they paid to see. (This is common in FREE word of mouth screenings for the public.) The cinematography in “Samsara” is lavishing as it transports the viewer to another culture across the planet. If their was any sense of awarding movie-making as the art it is and nominate those films based on merit and not popularity, this would receive a Best Cinematography Oscar nomination, without hesitation! It demands to be seen on the big screen. I cannot encourage movie goers enough to see this displayed in a large theater. And of course, a 35 mm or 70 mm print is always the way to go.
Covering various aspects of the movie industry including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous 'awards season,' Kenny Miles loves to talk about whats overlooked in Hollywood as well as what people are talking about in the Entertainment Industry. Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding.
He currently resides in Denver, Colorado where he is a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and a sales/events coordinator. You can follow me on Twitter @kmiles723.