Specialty Box Office: ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ and ‘A Most Wanted Man’ Open Strong In Packed Weekend

Specialty Box Office: 'Magic In The Moonlight' and 'A Most Wanted Man' Open Strong In Packed Weekend

While Hollywood keeps groaning about its box office woes (though they at least just got a nice shot in the arm thanks to Scarlett Johansson and “Lucy”), their indie
counterparts continued to heat things up this weekend with a duo of
high profile new releases entering an already potent marketplace to impressive grosses: Woody Allen’s
Magic In The Moonlight” and Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man.” Add that to strong holdover numbers from “Boyhood,” “Begin Again,” “Chef” and others (though not so much “Wish I Was Here”), and Indiewood closed off July in style. A full report:

The Debuts:

Debut Winner of the Weekend (tie):  “A Most Wanted Man” and “Magic In The Moonlight.”

Sony Pictures Classics and Roadside Attractions went against the grain of the 4-6 theater debut that typically meets major indies and set “A Most Wanted Man” and “Magic In The Moonlight” in 361 and 17 theaters, respectively.  Obviously there’s a big difference between those theater counts, but both strategies paid off either way.

Coming off an acclaimed debut at the Sundance Film Festival,  Anton Corbijn’s John le Carré adaptation “A Most Wanted Man” was definitely among the most wanted options of filmgoers this weekend. With an impressive cast including Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem
Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his
final
performances, the film grossed $2,717,425 from its 361 theaters to hit the overall top 10, averaging $7,527 (the highest average in the top 10 after “Lucy” and “Hercules”).

“With a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film had fantastic reviews,  and was the story of the weekend at the specialty box office,” Roadside said today. “‘A Most Wanted Man’ opened 20% higher than the Roadside/Lionsgate 2013 release ‘Mud,’ which released on the same number of screens (and opened to $2.2M) and went on to a $21M total North American box office.”

Notably,  “A Most Wanted Man” went up a very strong 59% from Friday to Saturday, which bodes well for its next few weeks.

Also in a nice position for the future is Woody Allen’s “Magic In The Moonlight.” Sony Pictures Classics and Allen have clearly been on a roll lately, with
their annual summer releases translating to $33.4 million (“Blue
Jasmine”), $16.7 million (“To Rome With Love”) and $56.8 million
(“Midnight in Paris”) over the past three years. That’s a lot to live up to, but “Magic in the
Moonlight” — which stars Emma Stone and Colin Firth — is off to a very good start in terms of continuing the streak. SPC upped the ante this time
around by releasing it in 17 theaters as opposed to the 5 or 6 that met
that aforementioned trio, which makes the opening difficult to compare (those three all managed
massive $70,000-$100,000 averages). But its $426,000 gross and $25,059 average are definitely worth celebrating, and shows that Allen’s fanbase is still a specialty box office force to be reckoned with. How it fares next weekend will be much more suggestive as to whether it can at least hit “Rome”-sized final numbers.

This Weekend’s Debuts: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)

1. Magic In The Moonlight (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $426,000
Theaters: 17
Per-Theater-Average: $25,059
Total Gross: $426,000
Criticwire Average: B

2. A Master Builder (Abramorama)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $8,048
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $8,048
Total Gross: $13,922
Criticwire Average: B

3. A Most Wanted Man (Roadside Attractions)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $2,717,425
Theaters: 361
Per-Theater-Average: $7,527
Total Gross: $2,717,425
Criticwire Average: B

4. The Fluffy Movie (Open Road)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $1,314,000
Theaters: 432
Per-Theater-Average: $3,041
Total Gross: $1,314,000
Criticwire Average: N/A

5. The Kill Team (Oscilloscope)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $3,000
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $3,000
Total Gross: $3,000
Criticwire Average: A

Continue to the next page for holdover grosses, including “Boyhood,” “Wish I Was Here,” “Begin Again” and “Snowpiercer”.

The Holdovers:

Holdover Winner of the Weekend:

“Boyhood.” Expanding
from 34 to 107 theaters, the success story of Richard Linklater’s
“Boyhood” continued to unfold as it soared 47% in grosses, taking in
$1,725,000 with a strong per-theater-average of $16,121 (the highest of any release save “Magic In The Moonlight.”

“‘Boyhood’ continues to do stellar business this weekend, grossing over $1.7 million on 107 screens,” said Mark Boxer, SVP Sales and
Distribution at IFC Films. “It’s incredibly gratifying that Richard Linklater’s unique
accomplishment has become a must see for movie-goers and that they are
responding to the film with such passion.”

“Boyhood” was a shot over 12 years, following the
evolution of a family (played by Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette,
Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater) over that period.  It represents an
investment from IFC Films, a division of AMC Networks, over that same
period.  The company had recently financed Linklater’s “Waking Life” and
“Tape” when Linklater and producer John Sloss approached IFC Films head Jonathan Sehring about
financing the “12 year project.”   He in turn went to his boss, Josh
Sapan, head of AMC Networks,  who he had worked for almost 30 years, who
also was into the idea.

Over the next two weekends,
the film will begin “an aggressive expansion,” supported by strong word of
mouth and a national television advertising campaign.  Its total stands at $4,126,000
after 10 days of release.

Notable Milestones:

  • “Chef”

    crossed the $27 million mark — only the second specialty release of
    2014 to do so after “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The Jon Favreau comedy
    has been holding on extremely strong over its run, dropping just 33%
    this weekend — its 11th — despite losing 147 screens. 

  • “Begin Again” hit $12 million in weekend #5, making it the 4th highest grossing indie of 2014.
  • “Boyhood,” as noted, reached $4 million, with a whole lot more where that came from.
  • Though it’s expansion was a disappointment, Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” joined the $1 million club and should pass $2 million in the next day or two.

The Holdover Top 10: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)

1. Boyhood (IFC Films)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: $1,725,000
Theaters: 107 (up from 34)
Per-Theater-Average: $16,121
Total Gross: $4,126,000
Criticwire Average: A

2. A Five Star Life (Music Box)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $9,200
Theaters: 1 (even)
Per-Theater-Average: $9,200
Total Gross: $36,000
Criticwire Average: N/A

3. Land Ho (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: 32,800
Theaters: 14 (up from 7)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,343
Total Gross: $134,700
Criticwire Average: B

4. Le Chef (Cohen Media Group)
Week: 6
Weekend Gross: $27,900
Theaters: 14 (down from 15)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,993
Total Gross: $264,000
Criticwire Average: N/A

5. Chef (Open Road Films)
Week: 12
Weekend Gross: $736,000
Theaters: 405 (down from 552)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,817
Total Gross: $27,235,000
Criticwire Average: B

6. Wish I Was Here (Focus
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $1,110,000
Theaters: 625 (up form 68)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,776
Total Gross: $1,835,000
Criticwire Average: C+

7. Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC)
Week: 5
Weekend Gross: $204,000
Theaters: 149 (down from 211)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,369
Total Gross: $3,905,000
Criticwire Average: A-

8. Ida (Music Box)
Week: 13
Weekend Gross: $58,500
Theaters: 45 (down from 75)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,300
Total Gross: $3,470,500
Criticwire Average: A

9. Begin Again (The Weinstein Company)
Week: 5
Weekend Gross: $1,572,000
Theaters: 1,244 (up from 1,302)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,264
Total Gross: $12,308,000
Criticwire Average: B

10. Obvious Child (A24)
Week: 8
Weekend Gross: $74,300
Theaters: 63  (down from 96)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,179
Total Gross: $2,789,700
Criticwire Average: B+

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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