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Arthouse Audit: ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ Gets Modest Response, Animated ‘The Prophet’ Shows Promise

Arthouse Audit: 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Gets Modest Response, Animated 'The Prophet' Shows Promise

On an uneven specialized weekend, audiences did not respond as much as anticipated to well-reviewed “Diary of a Teenage Girl” (Sony Pictures Classics), one of Sundance’s top acquisitions. “The Prophet” (GKids) has about the same per-theater average, though only in two theaters. 

The most surprising box office? The anime “Dragonball Z: Resurrection F” (FUNimation), with limited showings stretching back to last Tuesday, has already grossed over $5 million with targeted marketing that clearly hit its intended young male audience — increasingly the toughest to draw into theaters.

“The End of the Tour” led the second weekend expansions. But only six other films, including a major Indian commercial release, managed to gross over $50,000 among longer running films, a very low total of entries for the wider market.

Of note: Radius-TWC (whose future is up in the air) reports that Chris Evans’ directorial debut “Before We Go” has already grossed $1.1 million on VOD in its third weekend. It doesn’t go theatrical until early September.

Opening

The Diary of a Teenage Girl(Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin, New Directors/New Films. Los Angeles 2015

$54,425 in 4 theaters; PTA (per screen average): $13,631

Another acclaimed Sundance 2015 film debuted this August in four top New York/Los Angeles theaters (with “Mistress America” and “Grandma” still to come). “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” scored reviews at the same level as “The End of the Tour,” but grossed substantially less, coming in a bit more than 40% as well. Although it had a healthy bump Saturday from Friday, these are still numbers that are less than this 1970s teenage coming-of-age film deserves.

Among other recent Sundance releases, at similar initial-week theaters, “Tangerine” grossed $61,000 in four, “The Overnight” $53,000 in three. Among SPC’s past year summer-opening Sundance acquisitions, the similarly femme-oriented (but otherwise much different) “Austenland” earned less –$41,000 in four, while last year “Love Is Strange” took in $117,000 in five. Both ended up over $2 million, much more than either “Tangerine” or “Overnight” reached.

Despite much of the current specialized climate’s receptiveness to women’s films and audiences, this film may play younger (despite its 70s setting when many older people were growing up), which made it a riskier venture. SPC paid a reported $2 million for multi-territory rights, and of course have marketing costs added to its investment. Their history shows they maximize their top releases, so this could get to $2 million gross, and their access to top-end outlets for non-theatrical and international revenues could make this still a decent investment. But one stands out here is the continued crapshoot at Sundance and other fests. With the film’s reviews, some name cast members (Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgaard) and festival pedigree, that this is not doing better suggests that the specialized world continues to be very uneven.

What comes next: The usual comprehensive SPC national rollout to maximize its potential, which may have been less than hoped for.

“The Prophet” (GKids) – Criticwire: A; Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Cannes, Seattle 2014
$26,601 in 2 theaters; PTA: $13,301

Salma Hayek’s passion project, this animated version of Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran’s work is being handled by GKIDS, the go-to distributor for many specialized, rarefied cartoon features. It has a strong initial New York/Los Angeles result, although Friday was much better than Saturday.

What comes next: This will get national release starting this Friday.

“Dragonball Z: Resurrection F” (FUNimation) 
$(est.) 1,500,000 in 800 theaters; PTA: $(est.) $1,875; Cumulative: (est.) 5,600,000

This very different animated feature also worked very well. This one is Japanese anime and has already grossed over $51 million in the rest of the world. FUNimation coordinated a different release pattern for this, with single showings only starting Tuesday during weekdays in about 900 theaters, then very limited Friday showings and back to 900 yesterday (most of the gross from last night). The result is impressive (more so since they got chains to play on a Saturday night this way), with targeted mostly non-print marketing, and not even bothering with conventional review coverage. This could be a wave for the future. 

What comes next: This is likely the bulk of its theatrical take, but expect a lot of afterlife.

Cop Car (Focus) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2014
$27,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $9,000 (see below)

It’s unusual to have a film with two 10-year-old lead characters debut in the Sundance Midnight section, but this story of a couple of young joy riders (also starring Kevin Bacon as a cop whose cruiser they’ve purloined) played well at the festival and scored the director Jon Watts a gig directing Marvel/Sony’s next “Spider-Man” movie. “Cop Car” has mainly VOD play starting this Friday.

In the meantime, these initial dates gained some additional print and marketing attention. To note: the reported gross includes some addition showings over the weekend in other locations with Kevin Bacon video Q&A sessions. That makes the VOD estimate tricky, though Focus World is reporting based on the initial runs. The gross however looks accurate.

What comes next: VOD the main venue.

Srimanthudu” (Independent) 
$(est.) 1,700,000 in 157 theaters; PTA:: $(est.) 10,828

Another strong performance by a Telugu-language Indian action film.

What comes next: Looks like a multi-week run at these theaters.

The Assassination” (Well Go)  Metacritic: 63
$(est.) 250,000 in 32 theaters; PTA:: $(est.) 7,812

Set in Japan-occupied Korea in the 1930s, this action thriller showed quite good results at theaters that play South Korean commercial releases.

What comes next: Holding at most of these, but little expansion.

“Dark Places” (A24) – Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 41; also available on VIdeo on Demand
$(est.) 80,000 in 154 theaters; PTA:: $(est.) 519

Welcome to moviemaking 2015. Here are the elements: Oscar winner Charlize Theron starring in an adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel, on the heels of big success “Gone Girl” — but the main play? VOD. A24 corralled 154 theaters to get this more attention, but the reviews weren’t good (The New York Times ignored it entirely).

What comes next: VOD all the way.

Call Me Lucky” (MPI) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, BAM 2015
$(est.) 3,500 in 5 theaters; PTA:: $(est.) 700

This is veteran comic Bobcat Goldthwaite’s fifth theatrical feature and first documentary (it was showcased at Sundance). This non-VOD release had minor reaction despite decent overall reviews (or in the case of the Los Angeles Times, no review at all).

What comes next: Limited additional play.

Metropolitan” (Rialto) – Reissue
$7,000 in 1 theater; PTA:: $7,000

Whit Stillman’s debut feature is 25 years old, and is getting a limited reissue. It had a decent launch at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, the same week as Amazon announced backing for the director’s next film.

What comes next: Rialto always gets their releases out to most big cities for limited runs.

Week 2

“The End of the Tour” (A24)
$252,702 in 36 theaters (+32); PTA: $7,020; Cumulative: $428,047

This received nearly universally excellent reviews in additional cities in its second week, with its outstanding Metacritic score now at 85. This is a decent, but not spectacular result. Among A24’s multiple successes, its pattern is similar to “While We’re Young.” That Noah Baumbach comedy had 34 theaters at this point, but grossed much more ($484,000), with its marital New York romantic comedy story possibly having more initial appeal. This remains promising; its relative performance to “Young” actually improved compared to its strong but less initially limited run last weekend. How much crossover appeal this has remains to be seen. It has another week of modest expansions before a major national push on August 21.

“Best of Enemies” (Magnolia)   3/51
$(est.) 85,000 in 19 theaters (+16); PTA: $(est.) 4,474; Cumulative: $(est.) 136,000

A decent expansion for this William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal doc. The second weekend results aren’t that much less than the same point for their earlier “Iris,” which was playing at double the theaters. That film passed $1 million, with these grosses indicating that this has even higher potential.

“Listen to Me Marlon” (Showtime)   
$42,889 in 11 theaters (+9); PTA: $3,899; Cumulative: $101,657

Continuing to get a respectable response as it adds new theaters (Metacritic now at 87), this theatrical release (cable is not planned until closer to the awards season) is getting noticed, with excellent reviews in new cities. This is crucial for any Oscar chances – the documentary division has been historically loath to nominate movie-based entries (even though performing arts docs in other areas often get attention.)

“A LEGO Brickumentary” (Radius/Weinstein); also available on Video on Demand     
$6,500 in 23 theaters (-70); PTA: $282; Cumulative: $83,176

The parallel VOD gross to this point is $311,921. The theatrical component the second week is virtually nonexistent, but these dates got the film big city review attention at least.

Ongoing/expanding (grossing over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

Mr. Holmes” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 4
$1,319,500 in 780 theaters (-118); Cumulative: $12,839,000

Again this is performing in the range of “A Most Wanted Man,” Roadside’s success last summer (that film had grossed $200,000 less at this point, though it played somewhat fewer theaters). This similarly looks like it will get to an excellent $17-18 million total, much above expectations.

“Irrational Man” (Sony Pictures Classics)  – Week 4
$883,561 in 925 theaters (+790); Cumulative: $2,251,000

The per-theater-average is under 1,000 as SPC pushed a rapid expansion, likely as wide as it will get, in the fourth week of Woody Allen’s annual summer release. This looks like its high point, and now it appears that this could struggle to reach even $5 million, less than half of either “Magic in the Moonlight” or “To Rome With Love.”

“Bajrangi Bhaijaan” (Eros)  – Week 4     257,6962
$(est.) 300,000 in theaters (-148); Cumulative: $(est.) 7,262,000

This Indian smash has an unusual fourth domestic week as it continues to perform impressively.

“Amy” (A24)  – Week 6
$258,962 in 149 theaters (-96); Cumulative: $6,965,000

Winding down after a rapid expansion, the Amy Winehouse documentary still looks like it could approach a very impressive $8 million total.

“Phoenix” (IFC)  – Week 3       99
$135,810 in 27 theaters (+23); Cumulative: $259,492

Though it is unlikely to have the long life of last year’s subtitled art house sensation “Ida,” this continues to have similar (slightly lower) results so far. “Ida” grossed $127,000 in 21 theaters its third week (a higher PTA). “Phoenix,” which continues to be backed by strong reviews in new openings, so far is performing in the same league.

“The Stanford Prison Experiment” (IFC)  – Week 4; also available on Video on Demand    79/269
$79,860 in 66 theaters (-13); Cumulative: $425,413

On VOD since its second week, this isn’t a bad supplemental theatrical total.

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