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Arthouse Audit: ‘It Follows’ Is Horror Hit –and Tests Radius’s VOD Plans

Arthouse Audit: 'It Follows' Is Horror Hit --and Tests Radius's VOD Plans

Home viewing continues to take precedence for even the most acclaimed top festival specialized films. Of the
15 new limited releases in New York and/or Los Angeles, six had already
debuted on various Video on Demand venues, and one comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray
on Tuesday. 

A year ago, Fox Searchlight’s “The Grand Budapest
Hotel” was in its second week ahead of a long art-house run en route to four Oscar wins and an eventual $60 million domestic total. Two new openings, “Bad Words” and “Le
Week-End,” opened to per screen averages of over $20,000 (normally the
low-end of success in limited top-end theaters, with both expanding to
modest success).

This weekend, both “Going Clear” and “It Follows” show initial strong response
that would normally–anticipating ongoing distributor support and
word-of-mouth– result in major theatrical
success. For the former, perhaps over $3 million (excellent for a
documentary), and for “It Follows,” possible crossover commercial appeal
and wide release. If distributor Radius, which is invested in VOD success, doesn’t pursue the reported VOD schedule for “It
Follows,” it demonstrates that theatrical still has significant strength that VOD can’t easily equal. (Radius’s Tom Quinn was traveling and not available for comment.) Stay tuned: this is an evolving story.

Ethan Hawke’s high-profile festival hit documentary “Seymour: An
Introduction” (IFC) and veteran French director Benoit Jacqout’s “Three
Hearts” (Cohen) both opened in New York to modest response.

The rest of the pack will make niche appearances in theaters ahead of modest impact on VOD.

Opening

“It Follows” (Radius) – Criticwire: A- ; Metacritic: 82; Festivals
include: Cannes, Toronto, AFI 2014, Palm Springs, Sundance 2015
$163,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $40,750

Following growing acclaim on the 2014 festival circuit, Radius placed this top-end horror film in four theaters this week.
The results are staggering, led by a projected
$80,000+ gross at the Arclight Hollywood (exclusively in Los Angeles) and $40,000+ at the Angelika in New York (there were two
other NY locations).
Radius has been primarily, though not solely, set up to exploit Video
on Demand platforms for the Weinstein Company, including “Snowpiercer”
last summer (following an initial two-week theatrical lead-in).

Radius reportedly will pursue a similar plan for “It Follows.” All its
initial four theaters have played
VOD-adjacent titles; another indicator is that leading specialized circuit Landmark Theatres lists no upcoming dates for the film on their web site. So far no Radius spokesperson will confirm the reported VOD date of March 27. 

These initial numbers show that
there is significant theatrical potential for this, as well as
buttressing the resurgent horror genre which in recent months has seen
varying interest and strong reviews for “The Babadook,” “A Girl Walks
Home at Night” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” This looks like it has
the best potential of any of these. No one at Radius was available this
morning to discuss its future, but depending on how solid are their
commitments to the VOD date, they should adjust their plans. This clearly could become a crossover
success if it is theater exclusive for a while. And these
numbers could test reluctant exhibitors who shun VOD films while
attracting the core independents who were happy to play “The Interview”
over Christmas. Whatever the case, it’s going to be a big story in the
upcoming week.

What comes next: Wait and see.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (HBO) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Sundance 2015
$(est.) 60,000 in 3 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $(est.) 20,000

With
its cable showings in two weeks, this is going to have little
theatrical play. But the grosses here– led by an estimated $40,000-plus at the Arclight Hollywood, just west of the Church of Scientology’s world headquarters — show the strong interest in the subject that was
evident at its Sundance premiere. The church seems to be doing all it
can to bring more attention to the film with so many full page ads denouncing it.

The upbeat reaction could enhance the film’s long term awards chances. But
the Oscar-qualifying run pulling audiences should reinforce the fact that theaters still play a significant role. While the New York Times accorded the movie much attention and a review, The Los Angeles Times
did not review it, nor did HBO take out an ad, which makes
the LA gross even more potent. The LA Times will likely cover the doc when it comes to
HBO on March 29.

What comes next: HBO may not be interested in expanding to more theaters, though these grosses could yield bookings.

“Seymour: An Introduction” (IFC) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto, New York 2014
$26,320 in 2 theaters; PSA: $13,160

Multi-tasker Ethan
Hawke (Oscar nominated for “Boyhood”) is getting elevated attention as both director of documentary “Seymour: An Introduction” and the lead in the VOD and
limited release “Cymbeline” this week. He conducts the on-screen interviews with veteran New York
musician and legendary piano teacher. Nurtured by
IFC (whose long relationship with Hawke predates “Boyhood”), this opened in two Manhattan theaters to good results. This falls into the most popular documentary formula right now: the study of creativity via a strong personality. 

What comes next: This expands to other top markets in upcoming weeks, including Los Angeles this Friday.

“Three Hearts” (Cohen) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 56; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2014, Rendezvous With French Cinema 2015
$12,272 in 1 theater; PSA: $12,272

Veteran director Benoit Jacquot’s latest
film debuts exclusively at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Theater a week after it opened this year’s Rendezvous With French Cinema. This romantic drama about a French civil servant
who unwittingly falls in love with two sisters is helped by a well known cast (Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Charlotte Gainsbourg). Cohen handled Jacquot’s
recent “Farewell My Queen, which got to $1.6 million after opening to
$72,000 in four theater with somewhat better reviews.

What comes next:
There is always a core audience for high-end French films, but this niche item should amass steady business as it opens up
around the country.

“The Wrecking Crew” (Magnolia) –
Criticwire: A; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: South by Southwest,
Seattle, Mill Valley 2008; also available on Video on Demand
$63,000 in 7 theaters; PSA: $9,000

Similar
to the successful “20 Feet from Stardom” but actually predating it
(this had an elevated festival presence seven years ago, but needed a
Kickstarter campaign to get clearances for the music), this had a
healthy opening in six markets. More impressively, this gross comes
along with VOD showings. “20 Feet” in only three prime theaters and a
stand-alone theatrical release opened to $54,000. The different
circumstances of this release pattern makes these numbers similarly
promising as a theater draw.

What comes next: This expands to 25 theaters this Friday, including many top Landmark Theaters.

“The Cobbler” (Image) – Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Toronto 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 24,000 in 20 theaters; PSA: (est.) $1,200

Tom McCarthy (“Station Agent,” “Win Win”) has previously been a sure thing in the specialized world, but this collaboration with Adam Sandler (attempting to increase his indie cred) met with a bad reaction at Toronto, making this VOD play the logical route.

What comes next: A likely different profile for Sandler in his Netflix original, and McCarthy is already working on another high-end movie, “Spotlight,” starring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. 

READ: What Went Wrong with Tom McCarthy’s ‘The Cobbler’?

“Eva” (Weinstein) –  Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Venice 2011
$10,150 in 50 theaters; PSA: $203

This
robot-centered Spanish film starring Daniel Bruehl had already been
acquired by Weinstein when it premiered at Venice in 2011. It showed up
this week in 50 mostly obscure theaters, not even with full shows, most
likely done to fulfill contractual obligations. It had a rock-bottom
gross.

What comes next: Home viewing (Netflix most likely) should be just around the corner.

Week 2

“Merchants of Doubt” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$28,588 in 10 theaters (+6); PSA: $2,859; Cumulative: $54,242

Though
timely, well-supported and continuing to get good reviews, this
documentary about corporate public relations becoming anti-scientific is
not getting much traction.

“Grey Gardens” (Janus) (reissue)
$(est.) 8,000 in 1 theater (unchanged); PSA: $8,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 23,000

The
exclusive Film Forum/New York showing held over to continued decent
results for this 40 year old documentary co-directed by the late Albert
Maysles.

“An Honest Liar” (Abramorama)
$12,928 in 6 theaters (+4); PSA: $2,155; Cumulative: $31,165

After
getting some initial interest last week, this documentary about a
magician and his efforts to expose charlatans had somewhat less impact
in new dates.

Expanding/Ongoing (grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

“Still Alice” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9
$1,010,681 in 740 theaters (-457); Cumulative: $16,439,000

Julianne
Moore’s Oscar continues to drive attention to this sober drama, which is going to end
up as one of the lowest grossing lead acting winners ever. The PSA only
three weeks after (with no VOD on the horizon and most theaters opening
recently) is just a little over $1,000.

“The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) Week 16
$665,000 in 525 theaters (-337); Cumulative: $89,515,000

Heading
into the wrap up stage before its end of month DVD release, Weinstein
has managed to maximize this despite only winning a writing Oscar.

“A la mala” (Lionsgate) Week 3
$345,000 in 273 theaters (-111); Cumulative: $3,187,000

Production
partner Pantelion has provided another Latino niche market success with
the Mexican romantic tale now over $3 million.

“What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison/Paladin) Week 5     
$336,420 in 126 theaters (+26); Cumulative: $1,390,000

New
Zealand zombies and rom-coms continue to find interest as the ongoing
expansion has made this one of the few bright lights among recent
limited releases.

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4
$268,271 in 68 theaters (+40); Cumulative: $847,520

This Argentine Oscar nominee is performing ahead of the pace of last year’s South
American SPC release “No,” which ended up at over $2.3 million. Look for
this raucous comedy crowdpleaser to be around for a while as good word of mouth spreads. 

“Birdman” (Fox Searchlight) Week 22; also available on Video on Demand
$215,000 in 239 theaters (–538); Cumulative: $42,018,000

The
post-Oscar bump turned out to be very modest (a bit over $4 million), due to available home viewing options. Despite being on
screen steadily for over five months, this will end up about $16 million–well  below “12 Years a Slave” and about $2 million under “The Artist.”

“’71” (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$207,649 in 65 theaters (+49)  Cumulative: $378,127

A
big jump in theaters as Yann Demange’s Northern Ireland actioner starring Jack o’Connell expands rapidly. This is getting sampling
at a modest level, bolstered by continued strong reviews, which could
help stabilize this into a steady performer.

“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 23; also available on Video on Demand
$175,030 in 129 theaters (-169); Cumulative: $12,988,000

Despite home viewing for several weeks, this keeps getting ticket buyers to turn ou

“Mr. Turner” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 13
$129,351 in 89 theaters (-25); Cumulative: $3,729,000

Mike Leigh’s biopic continues to perform and now looks likely to get over $4 million.

“The Theory of Everything” (Focus) Week 19; also available on Video on Demand
$97,000 in 168 theaters (-187); Cumulative: $35,702,000

Just
about finished after a solid five month run that never quite broke out
close to what Weinstein managed with “The Imitation Game.”

“Leviathan” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12
$58,981 in 49 theaters (-22); Cumulative: $1,093,000

SPC has gotten this over $1 million, not a bad total without winning the Foreign Language Oscar.

“Gett:The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” (Music Box) Week 5
$85,000 in 34 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $222,847

This
Israeli drama is expanding to some interest, particularly in the New
York metro area. Twenty additional theaters add on this week.

“Deli Man” (Cohen) Week 3
$65,814 in 32 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $212,550

Some interest continues for this doc about food and culture, playing mainly in areas where delis are a big part of social life.

“Red Army” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8
$77,069 in 58 theaters (+18); Cumulative: $475,248

Though this never broke out, SPC has kept this going longer than expected after its disappointing start.

“Timbuktu” (Cohen) Week 7
$59,363 in 38 theaters (unchanged); Cumulative: $825,192

This could still reach $1 million, an unusual total for a film from this part of Africa.

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