The weekend’s big news: two films played well in multi-hundred theaters early in their release. Fox Searchlight’s “Enough Said” nearly placed in the top 10 (#11) in only 227 runs in a quick second week expansion, while revitalized Picturehouse’s 3-D “Metallica Through the Never” scored nearly $1.7 million at 305 IMAX locations, although expectations were for a higher opening. The push towards wider and quicker specialized presentations continues unabated. Their success again reveals why slow release patterns will continue to be less the norm.
Meanwhile three Sundance films, docs “Inequality for All” (Radius/Weinstein) and “Muscles Shoals” (Magnolia) and horror remake “We Are What We Are” (EOne) performed credibly this weekend.
“Metallica Through the Never” (Picturehouse) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Toronto 2013
$1,672,000 in 305 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $5,482
After a five-year Picturehouse hiatus, as company founder Bob Berney tried his hand with some success at FilmDistrict with “Drive” among others, Picturehouse returned with a splash. (Berney’s previous successes include “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Prairie Home Companion” and “La Vie en Rose.”) The distrib was relaunched with the high-level IMAX 3-D release of heavy metal concert/narrative “Metallica Through the Never,” which opened on only 305 screens and has already topped the total gross of “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” a more doc-like study of the group and its issues, which amassed $1.2 million for IFC in 2004.
Directed by Hungarian-rooted director Nimrod Antal (indie “Kontroll” and remake “Predators,” which grossed $52 million for Fox a few years ago) this soared to 8th place for its opening day off a core group of fans lining up to be first-nighters. The rest of the weekend tailed off, but nonetheless the film wound up in 13th place overall.
What comes next: Picturehouse expands to over 600 theaters this Friday (though “Gravity” will take over most IMAX screens). Meantime, this gets the distributor back in the game, with a handful of upcoming releases already announced.
“Inequality for All” (Radius/Weinstein) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include Sundance 2013, San Francisco 2013, Seattle 2013, Los Angeles 2013
$140,000 in 28 theaters; PSA: $5,000
A special jury prize-winner at Sundance, this documentary was handled a bit differently by Weinstein-boutique distrib Radius, opening in multiple cities rather than exclusive, and also solely in theaters initially. Though a much different film, similar to its earlier Oscar doc hopeful “20 Feet from Stardom,” this is not initially a video on demand release, unlike most Radius films.
Most issue-oriented docs in recent years have struggled to achieve the success that “20 Feet” and last year’s “Searching for Sugar Man” achieved by reaching for emotional involvement from moviegoers. “Inequality” centers on economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s examination of the factors causing a greater economic gap between the wealthiest few and most people in modern society. However vital that topic might be, it normally wouldn’t be a likely draw in theaters. These figures aren’t great, but they are more than respectable.
This is a change of pace for director Jacob Kornbluth, previously known for his dramatic features “Haiku Tunnel” and “The Best Thief in the World.”
What comes next: Likely further expansion, as well as positioning along with “20 Feet” for awards ahead.
“Muscle Shoals” (Magnolia) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Sundance 2013, South by Southwest 2013, Seattle 2013; also available on Video on Demand
$14,000 in 1 theater; PSA: $14,000
Opening at New York’s IFC Center along with nationwide VOD availability, this music documentary about the legendary Alabama rhythm and blue music studio had a solid initial gross. This is the kind of performance/creative doc with a personal touch that can sometimes find a theatrical audience, although with VOD showings it will be mainly a niche theater player. As evidence of its VOD strength, Magnolia reports that this is currently the #1 doc on ITunes.
What comes next: Chicago opens next Friday, other exclusive runs in other cities over the following weeks.
“We Are What We Are” (eOne) – Criticwire: 70; Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance 2013, Cannes 2013
$15,081 in 2 theaters; PSA: $7,540
This English-language remake of a Mexican cannibal film which received attention after its own Cannes showing in 2010 (IFC released that version) opened in New York and Los Angeles to modest results, bolstered by attendance at selected shows by director Jim Mickle and star (and Quentin Tarantino favorite) Michael Parks. It looks headed toward cult interest down the line similar to its precursor.
What comes next: Expansion to other markets is planned in upcoming weeks.
The big news this week among second week or longer running films is the strong performance of “Enough Said,” Nicole Hofencener’s soon-to-be empty nesters rom com starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. It jumped quickly to 227 theaters from its initial five, and grossed almost as much — $2,115,000 (PSA: $9,317) — as did Searchlight’s earlier 2013 success “The Way, Way Back” at 74 fewer theaters when that film expanded. “Enough Said”‘s critical consensus actually improved with the multiple new cities — the Metacritic score is now up to 79 — and indications continue about positive audience response. The gross boosted this already to #11 overall, very impressive for its low theater count. This looks on its way to possibly moving to the upper ranks ($20 million+) among the year’s specialized releases.
The second weekend wasn’t so kind to two other releases. Roadside Attractions “Thanks for Sharing” with Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow dropped 70% to $163,000 in 251 theaters (-18), for a $901,000 to date total. It won’t be around much longer. Weinstein’s French comedy “Haute Cuisine” went up in gross to $31,500, but only adding 11 theaters to its previous initial 3 (total $54,600).
Among films later in their runs and grossing above $50,000 for the weekend, “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics) again outpaced the pack. In its tenth week already, it took in another $708,000 in 528 theaters (-319, so beginning to reach the end of its initial pre-awards run), now up to almost $30.8 million.
SPC also has the Saudi Arabian “Wadjda” adding slowly, grossing $78,700 in 16 theaters (+7) for a so-so PSA (for this few theaters) of $4,919, total of $238,000 through 3 weeks in the U.S. (it had previously opened in Canada). Weinstein’s “Salinger” in its fourth week added $60,000 in 134 theaters, remaining weak (total $500,000).
Four longer running films grossed slightly over $100,000 as they reach the later stages of their runs. “In a World” (Roadside Attractions) grossed $123,000 in 121 (-23), total $2.6 million. SPC’s “Austenland” grossed $118,000 in 107 (-127) to pass $1,750,000. “The Spectacular Now” (A24) added another $115,000 in 107 (-127) for $6,657,000 so far. And Weinstein’s “The Grandmaster” with $107,000 in 143 (-330) now has reached $6.5 million.