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Specialty Box Office: ‘While We’re Young’ Expands Strong; ‘It Follows’ Holds Tight In Wide Release

Specialty Box Office: 'While We're Young' Expands Strong; 'It Follows' Holds Tight In Wide Release

Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young” continued to suggest its potential as one of 2015’s first specialty breakouts in its second weekend. The A24 release expanded from 4 to 34 theaters and jumped 117%, taking in $493,000 for a very healthy $14,500 per-theater-average. That’s the best second weekend average of Baumbach’s career, topping “Frances Ha,” “Margot at the Wedding” and “The Squid and the Whale” — all of which averaged around $10,000 in a similar amount of theaters.

“While We’re Young” stars Baumbach regular Ben Stiller alongside Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Stiller and Watts play a couple in their 40s who begin hanging out with a pair of twentysomethings (Driver and Seyfried).

“‘While We’re Young’ had a very strong expansion this weekend, ranked near or at the top of every complex it played, and has the highest per screen average of any film without the words Fast and Furious in the title,” A24’s Heath Shaprio said. “The film played well in arthouses and commercial complexes, landing in the top 15 on only 34 screens.”

A24 will continue to expand the film nationwide throughout the month of April.

The continued success of “While We’re Young” overshadowed a quartet of newcomers: IFC’s “5 to 7,” Ripple Effect’s “David and Goliath,” China Lion’s “Let’s Get Married” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Lambert & Stamp.”

“5 to 7” — a romantic drama starring Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe and Olivia Thirlby — had the best per-theater-average of the lot, taking in $19,600 from 2 theaters for a $9,800 PTA. In considerably wider release, Christian-marketed “David & Goliath” and Chinese import “Let’s Get Married” took in considerable hauls of $161,000 and $180,000 in 31 and 39 theaters, respectively. Their per-theater-averages of $5,194 and $4,615 definitely show promise in the coming weeks.

Sony Classics’ “Lambert & Stamp” — a documentary that reveals how the unlikely partnership between aspiring filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert produced rock band The Who — opened in 3 theaters and took in a so-so $13,500, averaging $4,500.

Also from Sony Classics, Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s Oscar nominated doc “The Salt of the Earth” had a solid second weekend  Portraying the works of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, the film went from 4 to 18 theaters and grossed $65,300 for a $3,268 average.

Holding on nicely in its third weekend was the first release from Bleecker Street Films, which was formed last year by former Focus Features Co-CEO Andrew Karpen. “Danny Collins” stars Al Pacino as an aging rocker, with Annette Bening and Jennifer Garner heading up the supporting cast. It managed a $324,000 gross from 83 theaters (up from 29), averaging $3,904 (the second best of any holdover specialty film after “While We’re Young”). The film has now grossed $954,000 and should cross the $1 million mark in the next day or two.

Also in its third weekend was Eugene Green’s “La Sapienza,” the
first film from Green (an American who has been living and making films
in France) to hit US theaters. The film held steady in 6 theaters, grossing a nice $16,000 as it averaged $2,667 and took its 17 day total to $68,330. Expansion to numerous markets on both coasts is in the works for the coming weeks.

Certainly the widest release of an indie this weekend came via David Robert Mitchell’s buzzy horror flick “It Follows,” which continued its success story as RADiUS-TWC took it from 1,218 theaters 1,655.  The film — which premiered back in Cannes last May — managed to place sixth on the overall box office chart, grossing $2,465,000 and averaging $1,489.  Following a
group of teenagers pursued by a supernatural entity after having sex, RADiUS had decided to hold back the film’s VOD release and expand it wide first, and the strategy has paid off. “It Follows” has now grossed $8,541,000.  

In its fourth weekend,
Ethan Hawke’s documentary “Seymour: An Introduction” went from 31 to 49 theaters and took in another $73,500. Looking at the life of
pianist and teacher Seymour Bernstein, the film averaged $1,500 and brought its cume to $310,300.

Yann
Demange’s war drama “’71” — which stars breakout actor Jack O’Connell
(“Unbroken”) — dropped from 121 to 95 theaters in its sixth weekend.
Released by Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media, the film took in
another $84,400, averaging $888 per theater. Its total now stands at
$1,144,500.

Best Actress Oscar winner “Still Alice” held onto 235 theaters in its 12th weekend out .   The
$5 million-budgeted Sony Pictures Classics release took in another $173,000 to take its total to an impressive $18,228,00 (by far the highest gross of an indie film released in 2015 — even though with its qualifying Oscar run “Alice” is technically a 2014 film).

Finally, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s “What We Do In The Shadows” had a strong eighth weekend. Distributed by Unison Films in
association with Paladin, the film went from 146 down to 125 theaters this
weekend and dropped just 22%, grossing $188,000 or a $1,504
per-theater-average.  Its total now stands at $2,466,000.

Turn to the next page for a chart of the weekend’s top per-theater-averages.

The Weekend’s Specialty Top 10 (ranked in order of
per-theater-average, and only including independent films that both submitted
estimates and initially opened in under 500 theaters):

1. While We’re Young (A24)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $493,000
Theaters: 34 (up from 4)
Per-Theater-Average: $14,500
Total Gross: $791,000
Criticwire Average: B+

2. 5 to 7 (IFC Films)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $19,600
Theaters: 2
Per-Theater-Average: $9,800
Total Gross: $19,600
Criticwire Average: C+

3. Woman in Gold (The Weinstein Company)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $2,004,000
Theaters: 258
Per-Theater-Average: $7,767
Total Gross: $2,100,000
Criticwire Average: B

4. David and Goliath (Ripple Effect)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $161,000
Theaters: 31
Per-Theater-Average: $5,194
Total Gross: $161,000
Criticwire Average: N/A

5. Let’s Get Married (China Lion)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $180,000
Theaters: 39
Per-Theater-Average: $4,615
Total Gross: $180,000
Criticwire Average: N/A

6. Lambert & Stamp (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $13,500
Theaters: 3
Per-Theater-Average: $4,500
Total Gross: $13,500
Criticwire Average: A-

7. Danny Collins (Bleecker Street)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: $324,000
Theaters: 83 (up from 29)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,904
Total Gross: $954,000
Criticwire Average: B

8. The Salt of the Earth (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $65,300
Theaters: 18 (up from 4)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,628
Total Gross: $137,500
Criticwire Average: A-

9. La Sapienza (Kino Lorber)
Week: 3
Weekend Gross: $16,000
Theaters: 6 (even)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,667
Total Gross: $68,330
Criticwire Average: A-

10. Wild Tales (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 7
Weekend Gross: $225,000
Theaters: 122 (up from 116)
Per-Theater-Average: $1,844
Total Gross: $1,935,000
Criticwire Average: B+

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist.

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