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Box Office: ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ Starring Carey Mulligan Leads Specialty Openers

Box Office: 'Far from the Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Leads Specialty Openers

As summer studio releases take center stage and compete with specialized fare by stealing away seats in shared theaters, the art-house world is hopeful that the recent specialized surge will continue.

Both Fox Searchlight bodice-ripper “Far from the Madding Crowdand Magnolia doc Iris are likely to boast long legs, while Alchemy’s Kristen Wiig vehicle “Welcome to Me,” which boasted the best PSA by playing in only two theaters, heads to VOD this Friday along with its theatrical expansion.

Opening

“Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Istanbul 2014
$172,000 in 10 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $17,200

Thomas Vinterberg’s high-end adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic English romance opened in five markets, skewing the PSA a bit lower than a typical two-city launch. (Fox Searchlight often is more aggressive in its initial release, so this isn’t unusual). Based on the four New York and Los Angeles playdates, the costume drama is headed to a $25,000 PSA, but then had to contend with reduced seating because of sharing complexes with the mighty “Avengers.” This places the picture in the range of Searchlight’s less familiar story “Belle” ($27,000 PSA in 4 theaters) and Focus Features’ “Anna Karenina” ($20,000 in 16 theaters), both of which reached over $10 million after wider breaks.

Reviews were positive, though key ones in the New York and Los Angeles Times were more muted. This number — after a few recent jaw-dropping successes with younger audiences — seems lackluster for such a high profile film with significant Searchlight marketing and prime theater placement. Its romantic/female appeal could still propel the film to steady results ahead. Still, despite being on two screens, it was still beaten out in New York by the Angelika’s lower-profile single screen “Welcome to Me.” 

What comes next: We’ll get a better indication with 19 new markets and close to 100 theaters this week.

“Welcome to Me” (Alchemy) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Toronto, Vancouver 2014, San Francisco 2015
$38,168 in 2 theaters; PSA: $19,084

Comedy star Kristen Wiig’s risk-taking–mixing offbeat indie projects with bigger studio releases– is paying off. In this case she plays an unstable woman who uses a huge Lotto payoff to finance a bizarre TV talk show focused on her life. “Welcome to Me”‘s initial two-theater New York/Los Angeles take actually is even stronger than the numbers appear. Most of the gross comes from the prime Angelika Theater in Manhattan (heading to around $28,000, a great number for one screen). Likely because of multiple-screen commitments to “Avengers” as well as its impending VOD release, the Arclight, one normal venue for this in LA, passed on it. So the comedy played at the centrally located but much lower-grossing Sundance Sunset, where it had a strong gross for the theater. But this reduced the PSA, which otherwise likely would have been over $30,000. In any event, this is a major upgrade for Alchemy, renamed from Millennium, which releases many indie B-films headed for VOD, but in this case are waiting for the second week, using the momentum from pre-release marketing and a strong theatrical showing to  elevate that platform.

What comes next: This also expands to theaters in over 50 markets this weekend.

“Iris” (Magnolia) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: New York, Hamptons 2014, Palm Springs 2015
$63,500 in 6 theaters; PSA: $10,583; Cumulative: $75,849

The late Albert Maysles’ second-to-last documentary had a strong opening (a four-theater broader release in Los Angeles included decent but not as high grossing theaters). Once again, the movie celebrates a charismatic if not widely famous creative figure (here a legendary New York fashionista still in her prime in her 80s). Maysles many decades into his groundbreaking career shows younger documentarians how to create a riveting, intimate portrait that draws viewers into its subject’s world, and early audiences are responding.

What comes next: San Francisco, Seattle and South Florida add on this week, with 20 more markets the following week.

“Ride” (Screen Media) – Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: San Francisco 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 4,500 in 2 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 2,250

Helen Hunt directed and stars in this tale of a mother following her son to California and discovering surfing. Its two-city theatrical run was lackluster, parallel to its national VOD release.

What comes next: VOD all the way.

Uttama Villain” (Prime Media) 
$(est.) 700,000 in 108 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 6,481

This
South India film is, per IMDb, the 195th film to feature Karnal Hasaan
since his early child acting days going back to 1960. The result is one
of the best South Asian openers in a while, ending up in only 108
theaters the #17 film for the weekend.

What comes next: This looks like it could sustain a multi-week run.

“Gabbar Is Back” (Eros)
$(est.) 250,000 in 107 theaters; PSA: $2,336

The
Bollywood (Hindi language) version of a revenge tale was twice filmed by
other ethnic Indian studios. Of the two
(different language/appeal) Indian releases this week, this one had much
less interest.

What comes next: Little further potential.

Week 2

The Water Diviner” (Warner Bros.)
$659,000 in 385 theaters (+65); PSA: $1,712; Cumulative: $2,333,000

Not
an encouraging second weekend for Russell Crowe’s Turkish-set drama of a
father’s search for his sons after a World War I battle. With an uptick
of theaters in the still limited run, the PSA dropped more than half.
Without significant expansion (not really justified based on this
response), this doesn’t look like it will get to $5 million.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” (HBO)
$(est.) 35,000 in 3 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $(est.) 11,667; Cumulative: $(est.) 250,000

Its
three very strong theaters held this weekend with no further expansion,
and a big drop in gross (the PSA last weekend was around $50,000). This
begins its HBO showings Monday night.

“Adult Beginners” (Radius/Weinstein); also available on Video on Demand
$25,060 in 54 theaters (+44); PSA: $464; Cumulative: $71,300

To
their credit, Radius is also reporting the VOD gross for this Nick
Kroll/Rose Byrne indie comedy about a grown man relocating to his
sibling’s family’s home. That has gotten to $346,000, along with minimal
theatrical response. This week’s nationwide expansion had very little
traction, and much further gross for this part of its availability it
unlikely.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 screens)

“While We’re Young” (A24) –  Week 6
$436,538 in 374 theaters (-388); Cumulative: $6,445,000

Though
Noah Baumbach’s Brooklyn-set story about the friendship of two
generation-separated couples had tailed off fairly quickly, it still
looks capable of outgrossing his previously best “The Squid and the
Whale,” which topped $7.3 million in 2005.

“The Clouds of Sils Maria” (IFC) – Week 4
$277,100 in 163 theaters (+94); Cumulative: $886,464

The
combination of cast (including Kristen Stewart) and continued strong
reviews seems to be keeping the momentum for Olivier Assayas’ drama
going. His recent best grossing film, “Summer Hours” in 2009, topped out
at 50 theaters (like this, it also starred Juliette Binoche, as well as
Catherine Deneuve, but was entirely subtitled) on its way to $1.6
million. This isn’t going to realize crossover potential, but it does
look like it has become a decent art house success. It should outdo all
of Stewart’s other frequent diversions in niche indie films.

“Danny Collins” (Bleecker Street) – Week 7
$(est.)175,000 in 304 theaters (-192); Cumulative: $(est.) 5,050,000

The PSA is minor, but Bleecker Street has gotten their initial release over $5 million.

“True Story” (Fox Searchlight) – Week 3
$(est.) 175,000 in 296 theaters (-560); Cumulative: $(est.) 4,380,000

This collapsed its third weekend, and now looks despite a fairly wide release and two major stars to fall short of $5 million.

“Dior and I” (The Orchard) – Week 4
$165,000 in 101 theaters (+56); Cumulative: $504,000

Another
example of the appeal of fashion-world related docs, this has become by
far the widest release for the fledgling The Orchard company. They plan
to nearly double the theater count over the next couple weeks.

“It Follows” (Radius/Weinstein) – Week 8
$92,300 in 171 theaters (-230); Cumulative: $14,284,000

Nearing
the end of its theatrical life, likely better positioned to get
attention when it gets its delayed VOD release, likely in a few weeks.

“The Salt of the Earth” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 6
$85,659 in 80 theaters (+33); Cumulative: $682,019

Though
it won’t reach the heights of Wim Wenders’ earlier docs including
“Pina,” this continues to get a respectable response as it continues to
expand.

“Felix and Meara” (Oscilloscope) Week 3
$71,063 in 25 theaters (+21); Cumulative: $129,623

Expanding
rapidly, this Canadian-produced Orthodox Jewish extramarital
relationship drama is gaining some interest in appropriate theaters. This week had an emphasis in the South Florida area, Several other top cities have yet to open, so this has good prospects ahead.

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$63,335 in 46 theaters (-12); Cumulative: $2,626,000

This
Argentine Oscar nominee has had a terrific three-month run (nearly all
after the awards, so it amassed this on its own), with a close to $3
million total likely to be at the high end of 2015 art house subtitled
releases.

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