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Arthouse Audit: ‘Sicario’ Is Breakout Smash as ’99 Homes’ Is Best of (Mostly VOD) Openers

Arthouse Audit: 'Sicario' Is Breakout Smash as '99 Homes' Is Best of (Mostly VOD) Openers

Lionsgate’s “Sicario” is the breakout of the fall specialized season, with a great $30,000 per theater average as it expands to 59 theaters ahead of its wide release.

On the limited opening front, two films, “99 Homes” (Broad Green) and “Mississippi Grind” (A24) showed promise in their initial New York-only grosses. 

Toronto 2015 premiere film “Stonewall” debuted disastrously, as gay and other audiences showed no interest at all (unlike last year’s seminal 1960s event film “Selma”).

Four Sundance films opened, including three documentaries (not included below are grosses for Sundance doc “Western,” which despite a staggering 89 Metacritic score could not land a mainstream distributor). Available on VOD are two big studio releases (through subsidiaries), Paramount’s “Ashby” starring Mickey Rourke, Emma Roberts and Sarah Silverman, and Universal’s British thriller “The Anomaly.” IFC’s Asia Argento drama “Misunderstood,” which opened in Europe after its Cannes debut, scored a prominent review in The New York Times but yielded minimal response at two shows at their IFC Center, as it also went to VOD.  

Opening
“99 Homes” (Broad Green) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto 2014, Venice 2015
$32,807 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $16,404

An early acquisition (out of Toronto 2014) for the now very active Broad Green, this housing foreclosure Florida-set drama opened to promising results in two prime Manhattan theaters. The subject matter isn’t an easy sell, making these numbers (and the increase Saturday from Friday as well) seem positive. It did score a strong prominent New York Times review, which helps. This is double the PTA director Ramin Bahrani’s previous film “At Any Price” opened to in four theaters (despite strong support from Sony Classics), and the same as their own “Learning to Drive” recent opening.

What comes next: Five more markets open this weekend, with additional dates starting the following week.

“Mississippi Grind” (A24) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Sundance, Toronto 2015; Also available on Direct TV
$14,355 in 1 theaters; PTA: $14,355

The directing team of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden have found success before with stories of competition (led by “Half Nelson”). This gambling-milieu story found prime festival presence before its post-Toronto release (actually preceded by several weeks play on DirectTV, A24’s sometime partner). Its New York-only initial grosses, with strong reviews, is decent considering its partial availability elsewhere.

What comes next: Los Angeles and other cities open this Friday, with a further theatrical presence planned.

“Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon” (Magnolia) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est). 6,500

This well-received doc about the multi-media success of the Lampoon organization opened exclusively in New York with an adequate gross considering its parallel VOD availability.

“Stonewall” (Roadside Attractions) – Criticwire: D; Metacritic: 31; Festivals include: Toronto 2015
$112,414 in 129 theaters; PTA: $842

A year ago the 1980s-set Welsh gay-themed film “Pride” opened limited to good reviews, good audience reaction but ultimately a disappointing $1.4 million national release take. Roland Emmerich’s “Stonewall,” recreating the 1969 gay rights milestone, lacked the reviews. Roadside opted for a wider initial release (five theaters more than “Pride” at its widest), but between similar core audience disinterest in history and lousy reviews ended up with disastrous figures and a like very short life.

What comes next: Hard to see how they hold most of these even a second week.

Unbranded” (Gravitas Ventures) – Festivals include: Hot Docs 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$150,000 in 58 theaters ; PTA: $2,586 

The numbers included one night Thursday shows, with 14 theaters continuing weekend runs at some of these. This doc – also VOD available – is the latest Tugg social media-launched film. with the distributor saying its 57 Thursday events set a record for this kind of platform. The doc deals with the plight of mustang horses in the open west. The multi-media releases seems to have found an audience – it is currently ranked #1 on ITunes documentary chart (and overall a $150,000 VOD gross so far).

What comes next: VOD now will be the main home, but additional theater dates are planned.

“Finders Keepers” (The Orchard) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 81; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest 2015

$5,740- in 5 theaters; PTA: $1,148

Another doc, this with major festival pedigree. Focusing on the an amputee trying to reclaim an artificial  leg, this got strong reviews but not much response in its initial dates.

What comes next: Los Angeles, as well as VOD, starts next Friday.

“The Keeping Room” (Drafthouse) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Toronto, London 2014
$4,700 in 2 theaters; PTA: $2,350

Drafthouse launched this women in peril Civil War-era drama with Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld in New York and Los Angeles (the latter at the prime Landmark Pavilion) to minor results. with the Los Angeles Times despite its placement relegating it to non-print coverage, clearly hurting its prospects.

What comes next: Despite initial results, Drafthouse plans to continue to support this. They expect at least 50 additional dates.

“Lost in Hong Kong” 
(Well Go) 
$558,900 in 29 theaters; PTA: $20,700

This Hong Kong-set comedy about two once romantically involved art school students meeting 20 years later received at international day and date release. The domestic take is at the high end for the targeted theaters Well Go’s releases thrive in.

What comes next: As usual, likely to stay at these locations.

Week 2

“Sicario” (Lionsgate)
$1,770,000 in 59 theaters (+53); PTA: $30,000; Cumulative: $: 2,351,000

Outstanding second weekend numbers for Denis Villeneuve’s drug cartel thriller. This is doing as well or better than “Birdman” or “The Imitation Game” last year at their similar stages and ranks above “Ex Machina,” the top-grossing initially platformed 2015 release so far in its second weekend ($800,000 in 39 theaters). This isn’t exactly the same formula. Lionsgate planned this as a wide release film, though with a more limited launch as studios occasionally do (“American Sniper” had a four weekend limited run), and the appeal of the film isn’t pure arthouse. But it looks so far like a major success, with next week’s wide release looking to score.

“Pawn Sacrifice” (Bleecker Street)
$1,021,000 in 781 theaters (+748); PTA: $1,307; Cumulative: $: 1,315,000

Another example of a rapid expansion of an initially limited opener, this Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky chess tournament retelling in its second week already is the widest release in Bleecker Street’s brief existence. The PTA comes in lower than SPC’s “Grandma” last weekend in its fifth weekend when it jumped to over 1,000 runs. This doesn’t look to have a long life ahead.

“Captive” (Paramount)
$505,000 in 807 theaters (+1); PTA: $626; Cumulative: $: 2,286,000

Showing that faith-based entries, even based on bestsellers, don’t necessarily translate into success, the second weekend for “Captive” dropped in half from its weak start.

“The New Girlfriend” (Cohen) 
$42,659 in 38 theaters (+25); PTA: $1,123; Cumulative: $92,168

Francois Ozon’s French cross-gender drama is moving out quickly, but without much more response than it got in its first week locations.

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

“Grandma” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$814,778 in 804 theaters (-257); Cumulative: $5,176,000

The Lily Tomlin gay grandmother comedy/drama fell a bit less than 50% its second wide weekend, but looks to gross above such other Sundance premieres as “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” as well as SPC’s senior gay marital romance “Love Is Strange” last year.

“Un Gallo con muchos huevos” (Lionsgate) Week 4       

$290,000 in 364 theaters (-242); Cumulative: $8,809,000

Though it lost a more than half its theaters, this Mexican animated comedy is approaching an impressive $9 million.

“90 Minutes in Heaven” (Goldwyn) Week 3
$291,485 in 485 theaters (-414); Cumulative: $4,481,000

Faith-based bestseller adaptation is hitting a more modest response than Sony’s sleeper success “War Room.”

“Learning to Drive” (Broad Green) Week 6
$200,000 in 214 theaters (-119); Cumulative:  $2,800,000

The latest film to score in the niche senior character genre is approaching $3 million.

“Meet the Patels” (Alchemy) Week 3        
$204,627 in 63 theaters (+29); Cumulative: $498,908

Indian-American matchmaking doc continues to find sleeper success as it expands rapidly.

“Sleeping With Other People” (IFC) Week 3      
$139,740 in 102 theaters (+75); Cumulative: $387,324

Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie try to be platonic friends against all odds in this rom com going theaters-only initially to modest results so far.

“Goodnight Mommy” (Radius/Weinstein) Week 3
$108,344 in 28 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $280,257

Austria’s atypical Oscar Foreign Language entry (a horror genre film, though backed with strong reviews) continues its theater-only expansion with a continued credible showing ahead of most recent subtitled films.

“Phoenix” (IFC) Week 10     
$86.700 in 85 theaters (-82); Cumulative: $2,821,000

This German breakout success looks headed for an excellent $3 million total.

Meru (Music Box) Week 7      
$82,000 in 82 theaters (-63); Cumulative: $2,126,000

The first mountain-climbing saga of the recent season, this has amassed an impressive total above all but one specialized doc this year.

Also noted:

“The Black Panthers: Vanguards of the Revolution” (PBS) Week 4 – $47,032 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $219,446
“Mr. Holmes” (Roadside Attractions) Week 11 – $46,475 in 105 theaters; Cumulative: $17,622,000
“The Second Mother” (Oscilloscope) Week 5 – $38,625; Cumulative: $272,034

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