Sunday, April 21, 2024

Box Office Surprise: Madoff-Like “Arbitrage” is a Hit


Surprise, surprise. While we’re all getting misty eyed over “The Master” selling out all its seats this weekend, there was another hit. “Arbitrage,” directed by Nick Jarecki, starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, really did very very well. The Madoff like saga of a Wall Street guy who seems to have it all but is way in over his head did just over $2 million at the box office. It finished 12th for the weekend. And those were pretty big accomplishments considering “Arbitrage” is only playing on 197 screens.

Director Jarecki is very excited, sending out emails to friends to help in his cause. I think he’s as surprised as anyone else. Some thing about “Arbitrage”: it’s a very well made film, very entertaining, and of course, very well acted. Gere does his best work since my last favorite film of his, “Hoax.” Susan Sarandon is top notch and very fetching, as usual.

The Madoff angle has not been publicized too much, but I think the audience gets it. Gere’s character is rich, and his family benefits from his largesse. But his daughter (played by Brit Marling) works for him and sees that something is terribly wrong. The whole enterprise of Gere’s hedge fund is based on a lie. If he can’t maintain his high wire act, he will be exposed, and the whole carnival over which he’s presiding will collapse. He will go right to jail.

“Arbitrage” may be the sleeper hit of the fall, just the way “Margin Call” was last year. I think it’s a little early for Oscar prognostications. But Gere and Sarandon are magic. “Arbitrage” should turn out to be a nice little hit. Kudos to producer Laura Bickford, who really championed this project and brought it to fruition.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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