Arthouse Audit: Massive Opening for “Moonrise Kingdom” Shows that Festivals Matter (UPDATED 4 DAY FIGURES)

Arthouse Audit: Massive Opening for "Moonrise Kingdom" Shows that Festivals Matter (UPDATED 4 DAY FIGURES)

Moonrise Kingdom” opened with some of the best platform grosses ever, even adjusting for inflation, but it isn’t the only good news out there. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” had a terrific expansion, while the massive international hit “Intouchables” had a lesser, if still encouraging, NY/LA opening. After a disappointing few weeks, it looks like the early summer will be solid in the specialized world – with the new Woody Allen film still to come.

Opening

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus) – Metacritic score: 82; Film festival – Cannes 12

$669,000 in 4 theaters; Per screen average (PSA): $167,250

The new specialty model: premiering at Cannes and opening in NY/LA right away has become a winner. Last year, both “Midnight in Paris” and “The Tree of Life” parlayed their showings into big opening grosses. Now Wes Anderson’s new film, this year’s opening night, has produced even bigger numbers. Not only that — it ranks as one of the biggest limited PSA’s ever — slightly ahead of “Dreamgirls” (with somewhat lower ticket prices), “Brokeback Mountain,” “The King’s Speech” and last year’s two Cannes successes. In other words, massive.

Though reviews were excellent, a response like this exceeds expectations. Chalk it up to a potent combo: Anderson’s reputation plus the cast’s appeal and Focus’s effective marketing of a mutli-generational entertaining light-hearted comedy.  The film could prove to be a strong cross-over draw in a market without many other films for sophisticated audiences.

What it means: It’s early, and Focus has other major films ahead. But if this expands with anything close to the draw these numbers show, this could end up as an awards contender. It also suggests that Thierry Fremaux and his Cannes selection committee are going to have an easier time getting American films to risk the tricky spotlight and expense of opening the festival. Also, next time someone mentions a $20,000 NY/LA opening PSA as “strong,” this shows what big really is.

“Intouchables” (Weinstein) – Metacritic score: 57; Film festivals include – San Sebastian 11, Rendezvous With French Cinema 12, COLCOA 12, Phx 12, SF 12

$137,400,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $34,350

No foreign non-English language film has ever been such an international hit (at least without adjusting for inflation) than this massive French comedy, which has already grossed over $330 million across Europe and other continents. Athough it’s a wide opener elsewhere, in the U.S. it’s a platform/limited release. The results in context are positive. Without the help of established names among the actors/co-directors, and not having the review support normally needed to boost a subtitled film, the Weinstein Company’s confidence in the film’s appeal (shown by the response in several pre-release showings at French-friendly venues) could still turn out to be correct. Saturday showed a solid uptick from Friday, indicating positive WOM (word of mouth), and the three-day PSA actually is more than 25% better than that the opening for “A Separation,” which ended up grossing over $7 million. So all things considered, an overall solid opening.

What it means:   This could still play as it widens out — the audience response will likely be better than the reviews. There is precedent for subtitled films overcoming less-than-spectacular NY/LA openings to become big hits (“My Life As a Dog” famously struggled after its initial dates). “Intouchables” also has the benefit of a committed and muscular distributor with faith in the film. Although it is unlikely to have remotely the same success in the US as elsewhere, this still has a real chance to improve. The big hurdle was the opening weekend, and so far, it appears things are on the right track.

“Oslo, August 31st” (Strand) – Metacritic score: 82; Festivals include Cannes 11, Toronto 11, Sundance 12, NDNF 12, SF 12

$11,500 in 2 theaters; PSA: $5,750

Like last week’s “Elena,” “Oslo” achieved the rare Cannes-Toronto-Sundance trifecta, as well as nearly as good reviews. The two-theater NY opening (IFC Center and upper East side) is at best modest considering the critical response.

What it means: Although the reviews were there, the subject matter — a day in the life of a post-rehab drug addict  –seems to have lacked appeal. This was inspired by the same novel (about alcoholism) that Louis Malle adapted in “La Fou follet” in 1963 – which also failed to attact a wide audience despite being one of his best films.

“OC87” (Fisher Klingenstein) – Metacritic score: 65; Festivals include: San Francisco 10, Philadelphia 10

$7,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $7,500

This unique documentary made by a director (with the help of two other director friends) about his struggle with mental illness (including obsessive compulsions, the OC of the title) did better than usual for an unheralded film like this, aided by more than the normal advertising over the weekend which clearly (along with favorable reviews) brought attention to the film.

What it means:  A chance to get further playoff in other cities, which most very small films like this don’t get.

Expanding/continuing

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight) – Week 4

$6,350,000 in 1,233 theaters (+879); PSA: $5,150; Cumulative: $16,553,496

Here’s how well this not surprising hit is doing – the PSA this weekend is ahead of what “Midnight in Paris” did when it expanded to over 1,000 theaters the first time (its fifth week), on its way to a $56 million total. That “Marigold” has found a large following–based on its cast, Searchlight’s marketing, and hitting its underserved target audience — was expected. But it now looks clearly to be headed to the high end of expectations. Based on these grosses, an eventual total somewhere between $30-50 million — more likely closer to the higher end or even above — is certain.

What it means:   Adding the grosses in the rest of the world (over $70 million), this will boost any producer looking to put together a high-end well-cast story aimed at older audiences, even if it is still tricky to reach that age group.

“Bernie” (Millenium) – Week 5

$870,000 in 194 theaters (+99); PSA: $4,485; Cumulative: $2,222,000

Doubling the theater count, with a decent if not great PSA at this level, “Bernie” continues to quietly amass a solid total as it slowly rolls out, counting on WOM to do most of the work for it. It’s succeeded so far.

What it means:  It’s unclear how wide this will expand, but this film still likely has much of its business ahead of it. And with Matthew McConaughey coming off of two films in the Cannes competition, he’s becoming the acting story of the year.

“Hysteria” (Sony Classics) – Week 2

$145,715 in 32 theaters (+27); PSA: $4,554 ; Cumulative: $201,521

Quickly expanding to new theaters in its second week, this achieved a modest gross at best, as mixed or lesser reviews continue to not help its chances. (US theaters did slightly better than Canadian, unusual for an England-set period film.)

What it means:   Enough interest here to justify an ongoing expansion, but this won’t likely have a long life.

“Polisse” (IFC-Sundance Selects) – Week 2; also available on VOD (video on demand)

$47,600 in 14 theaters (+11); PSA: $3,400; Cumulative: $75,600

Adding a few cities as it becomes available at home on cable, this is showing mediocre theatrical numbers despite some solid reviews.

What it means:   Limited future theater playdates ahead.

“First Position” (IFC-Sundance Selects) – Week 4

$140,000 in 56 theaters (+15); PSA: $2,500; Cumulative: $483,000

The PSA impressively is steady despite an increase in runs, as this dance competition documentary continues to perform at modest but adequate numbers.

What it means:  This has a real shot at hitting $1 million.

“Elena” (Zeitgeist) – Week 2

$12,000 (estimated) in 2 theaters (+1); PSA:; Cumulative: $31,000

LA opened a one-week run to go with the Film Forum in NY. These are passable grosses for a Russian film without a lot of marketing, but considering it stands as the best reviewed 2012 release (per Metacritic score), it deserves more.

What it means:   Expect this to have at least limited theatrical exposure in most major cities as exhibitors reach out to show this whatever their expectations.

“Where Do We Go Now” (Sony Classics) – Week 3

$62,925 in 25 theaters (+13); PSA: $2,517; Cumulative: $126,192

Mediocre numbers continue for this Lebanese film, still not showing the appeal that made it the People’s Choice winner last September in Toronto.

What it means:   This will fall far short of SPC’s recent other foreign language hits, led by “A Separation” and “Footnote,” despite its initial suggestion of strong audience appeal.

“Darling Companion” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 6

$68,967 in 61 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,131; Cumulative: $503,933

Nearing the end of the road, though SPC as always will maximize this as well as anyone.

What it means:  The target older audience is going, big-time, to a different film.

“Bully” (Weinstein) – Week 9

$41,000 in 104 theaters (-100); PSA: $394; Cumulative: $3,295,000

Finishing out its run, the first phase of this film’s life – the non-theatrical exposure yet to come will keep this going for some time – has taken in more than most documentaries do, although not quite equal to all the attention it got.

What it means:  That attention will pay off down the line, including possible elevated awards attention months from now.

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Comments

Joe Beatty

Very fine article and comments.

I agree with Tom and Logan about "Moonrise Kingdom." In this era of social media, why not take advantage of the publicity surrounding Cannes and release the film in its wake. Why wait several months? You can maybe argue to wait for the fall so as to better position for Oscar nominations, but that's a gamble.

As for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," here’s hoping that it will definitely assist filmmakers trying to put together films with a strong cast and story aimed at older audiences. It is the type of film that probably is less likely to win awards at festivals like Cannes, so it didn't necessarily need to spend the money to be entered in them.

Logan

Joe, compared to the other Anderson films:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox, opened in four theaters, PSA was $66,475
The Darjeeling Limited, opened in two theaters, PSA was $67,469
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, opened in two theaters, PSA was $56,542
The Royal Tenenbaums, opened in five theaters, PSA was $55,396
Rushmore, opened in two theaters, PSA was $21,833

Clearly, Moonrise Kingdom is a ginormous (early) success. Yes, Anderson's status has grown, but there's no doubt that the model discussed is quite successful and something other strategists will look at.

Joe

Re: Moonrise Kingdom – Festivals had nothing to do with it. It's a highly anticipated movie, with some big names, from a consistent writer/director who has a strong following. It was only in 4 theaters – OF COURSE it was going to have a huge PSA. If it opened wide, it would've done better than Battleship.

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