The indie box office has been surging as of late, with "Boyhood" (expanding to over 311 theaters this weekend), "Magic In The Moonlight," "A Most Wanted Man" and "Begin Again" among those aiming to add to their already impressive grosses this weekend. And they have some added competition by way of John Michael McConagh’s "Calvary," James Franco’s "Child of God" and Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos’s "Rich Hill." Franco’s clearly got the star power, though "Calvary" is probably the weekend’s newbie MVP.
- Calvary (Fox Searchlight)
Director: John Michael McConagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Marie-Josée Croze
Criticwire Average: 20 critics gave it a B+ average
Where It’s Screening: Four theaters: The Arclight Hollywood, the Landmark West LA, the Angelika Film Center and AMC’s Lincoln Square in New York.
Box Office Expectation: Three years ago, John Michael McConaugh and Brendan Gleeson had an indie hit on their hands with "The Guard" — which Sony Pictures Classics released to the tune of a $19,209 opening average (in 4 theaters) and an eventual $5.4 million gross. Can their follow-up "Calvary" match it? The drama — depicting a priest who is threatened during confession and then needs to fight against dark forces closing in on him — isn’t quite as marketable as "The Guard." But it has strong reviews and benefits from fans of "The Guard" wanting to see what the pair do next. So a $15,000 opening average, while slightly less than its predecessor, would put it off to a very respectable start.
- Child of God (Well Go USA)
Director: James Franco
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Jim Parrack, Fallon Goodson, Vince Jolivette, Jeremy Ambler, Scott Haze
Criticwire Average: 12 critics gave it a B- average
Where It’s Screening: Eight theaters including the Empire in New York and the Arclight in LA.
Box Office Expectation: James Franco’s box office history is all over the map, from $100 million grossing studio films to indies that don’t even manage six figures. "Child of God" clearly will fall closer to the latter category. An adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, Franco directed, co-wrote and co-stars in the story of a violent man’s attempt to exist outside the social order. Franco has notably been hitting the talk show circuit for the film and will be doing some Q&As this weekend, which should help quite a bit. But notably three films directed or co-directed by Franco have hit theaters in the last year, and none of them have grossed over $50,000. So even if "God" finds its way to a $7,000 average, that should be within expectation.
- Rich Hill (The Orchard)
Director: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos
Criticwire Average: 13 critics gave it a A- average
Where It’s Screening: Exclusively at the Village East in New York City.
Box Office Expectation: Winner of the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos’s "Rich Hill" certainly has critics in its corner heading into this week’s theatrical release. Chronicling the lives of three boys living in an impoverished Midwestern town, the film’s prospects beyond this weekend are a bit more questionable but this weekend should be much less of a problem. The Sundance prize mixed with the strong reviews should take it to a gross of around $8,000.
Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Check back for his weekend report here at Indiewire around noon EST on Sunday.