Mid-May, when most of the specialized industry is encamped on Cannes’ Croisette, is not usually a prime opening date for new limited releases. Only “Frances Ha” in recent years has had a strong or better ($20,000+) per-scree- average this weekend, although later in the month around Memorial Day has seen some huge openings (“Midnight in Paris,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Tree of Life” leading the way).
That creates opportunities for enterprising distributors to take advantage in hopes of getting more attention, better access to top theaters and a clear shot at being top performer of the weekend. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (second release from Bleecker Street, who earlier this year opened “Danny Collins”) was one of three older-cast movies in Sundance’s Premiere section to be acquired (along with “Grandma” and “A Walk in the Woods,” opening later this year from Sony Pictures Classics and Broad Green respectively), and its decent initial results (with mostly favorable reviews) is paying off so far.
The rest of the debuters — as usual several of which have concurrent VOD platforms — made little impact and don’t look to have more than limited playoff and modest returns ahead. Fox Searchlight’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” is the best of other recent May releases, sneaking into the Top Ten this weekend, but not at a level that suggests major crossover appeal.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (Bleecker Street) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Sundance, Sarasota, Cleveland 2015
$49,340 in 3 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $16,477
Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott have a late-in-life romance, giving a showcase to these two veteran actors not normally given lead roles. This was timed nicely to score three prime New York/Los Angeles theaters despite not having a high director/cast profile. Though it isn’t a huge opening, it is respectable and in the current “up” period for older audience appeal films should see some steady business ahead, particularly in areas (like Florida) that gravitate to similar releases.
What comes next: The older audience sometimes gravitates a little more slowly, and word of mouth is crucial. But Bleecker Street has positioned this so they should be able to maximize this over the next few weeks, though not at the level of their first release “Danny Collins.”
“Where Hope Grows” (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 39; Festivals include: Dallas 2014
$489,500 in 276 theaters; PSA: $1,773
Another of Roadside’s occasional forays into middle American faith-based releases, this one is based on the life of a down and out Major League baseball player whose life turns around when a Down’s Syndrome boy shows him the light. This opened at a level similar to some of their earlier ones, although the increase yesterday from Friday is an improvement over some similar patterns.
What comes next: It’s getting crowded out there, and these numbers don’t suggest a strong case for expansion.
“In the Name of My Daughter” (Cohen) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Cannes, London 2014, City of Lights City of Angels 2015
$14,294 in 3 theaters; PSA: $4,765
Cohen Release is often the go-to company for French dramas with veteran directors (Andre Techine and Catherine Deneuve here). This drama about a high-powered business executive trying to get justice for her long-missing daughter performed a bit below his previous “Unforgivable” as well as Deneuve’s “3 Hearts” and “Beloved,” the best of which ended up around $200,000 total.
What comes next: A likely modest expansion to big city and other theaters that usually play top French films.
“Good Kill” (IFC) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, London 2014, Rotterdam 2015
$17,200 in 2 theaters (U.S. only); PSA: $8,600
Andrew Niccol up to now has been a wide release director, though often of stylized genres films (including “Gattaca, ” an early standout Ethan Hawke film and “In Time”). This independently produced anti-war on terror story focuses on a group of Las Vegas-based Air Force members remotely targeted drones on enemy targets in various Muslim world countries, and the moral dilemmas that arise among them. With positive but not standout reviews and two normally strong grossing theaters (including the Arclight Hollywood), this received an at-best modest response. “Zero Dark 30,” “Lone Survivor” and “American Sniper” showed the strong appeal of the wider genre, but might be too message-oriented (despite its appropriate target) to satisfy the target audience.
What comes next: IFC is expanding this but it looks like it has limited appeal.
“Slow West” (A24) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Sundance 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 10,500 in 2 theaters; PSA: (est.) $5,750
A24 had or acquired four films at this years Sundance. Their first to be released, and entering theaters and multiple VOD platforms weeks after its initial presentation on DirecTV (one route they sometimes take). A New Zealand-filmed, American West-set revisionist genre tale starring Michael Fassbender (who continues to grace a variety of independent films to balance his bigger budget effort), this is showing at one theater each in New York and Los Angeles. This is a minor result despite some good reviews.
What comes next: After two breakout theatrical successes, A24 looks to have a minor theatrical presence with this ahead.
“The Connection” (Drafthouse)- Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Toronto 2014, Rendezvous With French Cinema, City of Lights City of Angels 2015
$9,800 in 2 theaters; PSA: $4,900
It has been over three years since “The Artist” won Best Picture and Jean Dujardin Best Actor. Director Michel Hazanavicius has struggled (his Cannes 2014 premiered “The Search” has yet to find an American distributor). Dujardin since has been seen in supporting roles in “Monuments Men” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This “French Connection”-esque thriller (retitled for the U.S. to reinforce the notion) is his first French lead role to reach the U.S. since opened at the two top Landmark theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The results are minor, although yesterday’s numbers had a good jump over Friday’s.
What comes next: This will get a big-city national playoff, but don’t expect significant business ahead.
“Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World” (Icarus) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Zurich, Hong Kong 2014
$(est.) 8,000 in 5 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 1,600
A documentary for “Alien” fans (artist Giger created the monster for Ridley Scott’s classic, this also opened with (again) significant big city support from Landmark Theaters. It looks like a niche item not going beyond core interest.
What comes next: Looks mainly like a calendar/short term play release as it expands.
“Animals” (Oscilloscope) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$12,000 in 10 theaters; PSA: $1,200
A romantically connected pair of young heroin addicts in Chicago are the sole focus of this debut feature. Despite some earlier festival acclaim, it didn’t connect with initial audiences.
What comes next: Likely limited at best future play.
“Bombay Velvet” (Fox International)
$(est.) 310,000 in 218 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 1,422
Anurag Kashyap has been acclaimed recently for his epic “The Gangs of Wasseypur.” Here he has made a more conventional star-driven more conventional length Bollywood film, with at about an average result among recent Indian national releases.
What comes next: Likely has done most of its business already.
“Saint Laurent” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$38,075 in 16 theaters (+12); PSA: $2,380; Cumulative: $88,294
The second weekend per theater came in at about half that of “Yves Saint Laurent,” the first biopic on the fashion designer last year. This looks like it will struggle to find much beyond limited big city play ahead.
“The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (Music Box)
$55,115 in 25 theaters (+17); PSA: $2,205; Cumulative: $99,553
Though these also are modest numbers, this had some steady holdovers in initial dates and led other higher-profile films in the Bay Area and elsewhere.
“Five Flights Up” (Focus World) (also available on Video on Demand)
$(est.) 175,000 in 94 theaters (+7); PSA: $(est.) 1,862; Cumulative: $(est.) 500,000
Decent holds at modest levels for this Diane Keaton/Morgan Freeman vehicle that also is playing on VOD.
“I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” (Tribeca) (also available on Video on Demand) 1
$(est.) 10,500 in 2 theaters (+1); PSA: $5,250; Cumulative: $(est.) 24,000
Los Angeles and VOD were added, but this Sesame Street character doc continues to get some theatrical attention.
“The D Train” (IFC)
$20,000 in 162 theaters (-847); PSA: $123; Cumulative: $663,000
About as bad as it gets, Jack Black’s daring Sundance comedy loses most of its theaters and attracts around 10 customers per theater in its second weekend, without the excuse of VOD competition to blame.
“The Apu Trilogy” (Janus) (reissue)
$13,107 in 1 theater (unchanged); PSA: $13,107; Cumulative: $43,331
Satyajit Ray’s “Aparajito” is the prime attraction this weekend at New York’s Film Forum as his classic trilogy continues to show strong interest.
Expanding/ongoing (in under 1,000 theaters grossing over $50,000)
“Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight) Week 3
$1,300,000 in 289 theaters (+190); Cumulative: $2,631,000
This managed to reach the Top Ten, but this still limited expansion is performing significantly below some recent Searchlight releases (“Birdman,” “The Way Way Back” and “Enough Said” included) as well as the similar “Anna Karenina” (which had a $5,800 PSA in somewhat more theaters on a weak early December weekend. Searchlight always gives its quality films a solid push, and as counter programming over Memorial Day ahead it should see some substantial growth, but this looks headed to a gross around $10 million, not great for the pedigree and potential of this project.
“The Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) Week 7
$1,190,000 in 876 theaters (-204); Cumulative: $28,952,000
Impressively (and with Helen Mirren a key reason), this looks headed shortly to a $30 million-plus result. That would have placed it right in the middle of last year’s Oscar contenders without their extra marketing push.
“The Water Diviner” (Warner Bros.) Week 4
$286,000 in 288 theaters (-94); Cumulative: $3,720,000
Warner Bros. kept this limited and will end up shy of $5 million.
“While We’re Young” (A24) Week 8
$155,657 in 174 theaters (-84); Cumulative: $7,164,000
Noah Baumbach’s Brooklyn-set comedy/drama is winding up its decent run a little shy of $8 million.
“Welcome to Me” (Alchemy) Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$95,911 in 130 theaters (-53); Cumulative: $413,028
Minor numbers at this point in theaters, but Alchemy reports its first week on VOD brought in $510,000.
“Clouds of Sils Maria” (IFC) Week 6
$133,700 in 128 theaters (+4); Cumulative: $1,521,000
Continuing to hold well, this Juliette Binoche/Kristin Stewart film looks headed for a solid $2 million total.
“Iris” (Magnolia) Week 3
$(est.) 120,000 in 52 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $(est.) 380,000
Albert Maysles’ fashion documenary continues to show wider if middle-level interest as this expands.
“Danny Collins” (Bleecker Street) Week 9
$(est.) 75,000 in 93 theaters (-73); Cumulative: $(est.) 5,487,000
Ending its two month + run as Al Pacino’s biggest lead role performer in many years.
“Dior and I” (The Orchard) Week 6
$64,994 in 73 theaters (-22); Cumulative: $811,217
Though a minor gross at this point, this looks still like it could reach a decent $1 million.
“The Salt of the Earth” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8
$67,585 in 64 theaters (-16); Cumulative: $967,279
Another documentary pushing to over $1 million.
“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 13
$55,348 in 38 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $2,794,000
One of the strongest art house subtitled releases over the last year is going to finish close to $3 million.
“Felix and Meara” (Oscilloscope) Week 5
$52,000 in 44 theaters (+5); Cumulative: $285,000
Holding close to last week’s results with a slight uptick in theaters.