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Specialty Box Office: Nick Cave’s ‘20,000 Days’ Has Best Doc Debut of 2014; Weinsteins Stopped In ‘Tracks’

Specialty Box Office: Nick Cave's '20,000 Days' Has Best Doc Debut of 2014; Weinsteins Stopped In 'Tracks'

A whopping 10 new films entered the specialty marketplace in limited release this weekend, and that’s not even counting the semi-wide release of Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” (which notably despite very strong buzz out of Toronto, had a so-so debut). So which films managed to stand out in the crowd? And which holdovers continued on their way to breakout status? Our report:

The good news: 

There was plenty of strong performances to go around this weekend, though the standout among them was most definitely Drafthouse’s release of Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Nick Cave pseudo-documentary “20,000 Days on Earth,” which soared to the second best debut in the history of the distributor (after “The Act of Killing”). At New York’s Film Forum (and with the benefit of Q&A screenings with Forsyth and Pollard), “20,000 Days” took in an impressive $26,900 — the best average of the year for a documentary (though notably the film comvbines drama and reality in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of Cave).

“Drafthouse Films aimed to do a campaign for ‘20,000 Days’ that is as creative and original as both the film and artist Nick Cave himself,” said Drafthouse Films COO James Emanuel Shapiro. “One aspect was a special opening weekend screening event at Town Hall in conjunction with our exclusive opening theater, Film Forum. We also partnered with Vice’s Noisey for a live-stream of the post-screening Q & A and performance by Nick Cave. We are so thrilled that audiences have embraced the film, as much as we hoped they would, when we saw in at Sundance this past year.”

“20,000 Days” will expand to Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle next weekend — and we’ll see if the good news keeps coming then.

The same can be said of a bunch of other films off to great starts: Submarine’s “Pump,” Starz Media’s “Not Cool,” Relativity’s “Hector and the Search For Happiness” and Oscilloscope’s “Art and Craftall averaged over $10,000 — which collectively made for a very rare feet of having five debuts (many of them under-the-radar) average 5 digit numbers.

No holdovers managed the $10,000 feat, but one came very close: Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate’s release of Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins” continued to show a lot of promise, expanding from 15 to 49 theaters in its second weekend and taking in another $448,000. That gave the Kristen Wiig-Bill Hader sibling dramedy a strong $9,143 average and a new total of $950,000. If it keeps up numbers like this, there’s a lot more where that came from.

As for older releases, Sony Classics’ “Love is Strange,” IFC Films’ “The Trip To Italy” and “Boyhood,” and American Experience/PBS Films’s “Last Days in Vietnam” all found very solid numbers at various stages in release — placing strongly amidst an onslaught of newcomers on our top 20 per-theater-average chart (which you can find on the next page).
 
The bad news:

Just a few days after we posted this call to arms for female-led indie box office hits in 2014, two such possibilities turned up some pretty disappointing numbers, and in both regards it was bad news for The Weinstein Company.

John Curran’s “Tracks” — which has been riding strong reviews on the festival circuit since opening at the Toronto Film Festival over a year ago — finally made its way to 4 theaters this weekend, and only took in $21,600 for an unimpressive $5,400 average. Starring Mia Wasikowska as a woman who trekked almost 2,000 miles of Australian desert, the film failed to connect with audiences in its debut weekend.

Though there’s still hope for “Tracks” in expansion, the second weekend of Jessica Chastain-led romance “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” isn’t an example it will want to lead by. After a strong debut last weekend, The Weinstein Company pushed the film (which like “Tracks,” world premiered in Toronto in September 2013) out aggressively, going from 4 theaters to 136. The move didn’t exactly pay off, with “Rigby” grossing only $170,000 for a $1,250 average. With a total now standing at $260,000, it could be a struggle for the film to even hit the $1 million mark.

Head over to the next page for a chart of the weekend’s 20 best per-theater-averages.

The Weekend’s Specialty Top 20 (ranked in order of per-theater-average, and only including films that both submitted estimates and initially opened in under 500 theaters):

1. 20,000 Days on Earth (Drafthouse)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $26,900
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $26,900 (best average for any film in release)
Total Gross: $30,000
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “20,000 Days on Earth”

2. Pump (Submarine)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $42,200
Theaters: 3
Per-Theater-Average: $14,067
Total Gross: $42,200
Criticwire Average: N/A
Read more about “Pump”

3. Not Cool (Starz Media)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $14,000
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $14,000
Total Gross: $14,000
Criticwire Average: N/A
Read more about “Not Cool”

4. Hector and the Search For Happiness (Relativity)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $190,000
Theaters: 206 (down from 285)
Per-Theater-Average: $922
Total Gross: $3,349,000
Criticwire Average: B-
Read more about “Hector”

5. Art and Craft (Oscilloscope)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $23,000
Theaters: 2
Per-Theater-Average: $11,500
Total Gross: $23,000
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Art and Craft”

6. The Skeleton Twins (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $448,000
Theaters: 49 (up from 15)
Per-Theater-Average: $9,143 (best average for a holdover)
Total Gross: $950,000
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “The Skeleton Twins”

7. Keep On Keepin’ On (RADiUS-TWC)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $12,200
Theaters: 2
Per-Theater-Average: $6,100
Total Gross: $6,100
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Keep On Keepin’ On”

8. Last Days in Vietnam (American Experience/PBS Films)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: $22,400
Theaters: 4 (up from 3)
Per-Theater-Average: $7,400
Total Gross: $94,600
Criticwire Average: A
Read more about “Last Days in Vietnam”

9. Tracks (The Weinstein Company)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $21,600
Theaters: 4
Per-Theater-Average: $5,400
Total Gross: $21,600
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Tracks”

10. The Guest (Picturehouse)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $82,100
Theaters: 19
Per-Theater-Average: $4,321
Total Gross: $82,100
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “The Guest”

11. Bird People (Sundance Selects)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $4,100
Theaters: 1 (even)
Per-Theater-Average: $4,100
Total Gross: $4,100
Criticwire Average: B
Read more about “Bird People”

12. The Green Prince (Music Box Films)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $42,636
Theaters: 14 (up from 4)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,045
Total Gross: $90,023
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “The Green Prince”

13. My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $486,000
Theaters: 170 (up from 11)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,859
Total Gross: $683,000
Criticwire Average: B
Read more about “My Old Lady”

14. Stop the Pounding Heart (Big World)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $2,500
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $2,500
Total Gross: $2,500
Criticwire Average: C+
Read more about “Heart”

15. But Always (China Lion)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: $35,000
Theaters: 20 (down from 20)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,188
Total Gross: $388,900
Criticwire Average: N/A
Read more about “But Always”

16. Love Is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 5
Weekend Gross: $231,000
Theaters: 112 (up from 102)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,063
Total Gross: $1,585,000
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Love is Strange”

17. The Trip To Italy (IFC Films)
Week: 6
Weekend Gross: $300,000
Theaters: 200 (up from 155)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,500
Total Gross: $2,154,000 (crossed the $2 million mark)
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “The Trip To Italy”

18. The Zero Theorem (Amplify)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $82,000
Theaters: 63
Per-Theater-Average: $1,302
Total Gross: $82,000
Criticwire Average: B-
Read more about “The Zero Theorem”

19. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $170,000
Theaters: 136 (up from 4)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,250
Total Gross: $260,000
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Eleanor Rigby”

20. Boyhood (IFC Films)
Week: 11
Weekend Gross: $412,000
Theaters: 335 (down from 659)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,230
Total Gross: $22,561,000 (crossed the $22 million mark)
Criticwire Average: A
Read more about “Boyhood”

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

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Comments

nick cave jr

in reality, the nick cave film did $9705 over the weekend at the film forum. if there was a special screening at town hall with nick cave, at an inflated ticket price, that hardly counts as a theatrical screening. plus, if you did count it as such isn’t that 2 screens? calling it a 27,000 per screen average is pretty much total bullshit. and indiewire has to be more creditable than that.

sherlockjr

Audience loved TRACKS at festivals but M.Dargis could not be a worse person to review it and she trashed it. If it can find both the female audience and adventure/outdoor crowd it could catch on. My only real fault with the film was this fair-haired blonde in the bright sun and desert not getting really badly burned. Otherwise a terrific entertainment.

HaveSeveral

While it’s great that clearly on the spectrum actors like Driver are able to gain employment, it’s too bad his talent is questionable as he plays himself in every role.

RPG

Agreed. The ad for Tracks in Friday’s NY Times pissed me off. How about focusing on the actual star of the movie (Mia W) and NOT Adam Driver? The US poster turning this movie into a love story was bad enough. F— off, TWC.

Now let’s get ready for all the ass-kissing about how wonderful "Wild" will be, come December.

sherlockjr

If only the ads for TRACKS made it look interesting. How boring can you get and it putting a secondary male as the focus is a big mistake. Sometimes you have to wonder if distributors just want to dump their movies.

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