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Arthouse Audit: Gaspar Noe’s ‘Love’ Conquers All at a Scary Halloween Box Office

Arthouse Audit: Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Conquers All at a Scary Halloween Box Office

The holiday scared off most specialized distributors from releasing new films this week. Alchemy released Gaspar Noe’s “Love” unrated and in 3D in Manhattan to decent returns. But the Halloween weekend was scary indeed—nothing else could top even $8,000. 

The grim news extended to would-be Oscar contenders “Steve Jobs” and “Truth” as both attempted to score in more than 1000-theater runs, which fell far below expectations (more in Top 10 Takeaways). “The Suffragette” in its second weekend was spotty, and only one  film, A24’s “Room,” did much above $250,000 in what should be a prime time for adult/specialized/awards fare. When Halloween fell on the weekend last year, that didn’t stop eventual Oscar-winner “Birdman” in its third weekend from grossing $2.4 million in 231 theaters.

Three high profile new releases —”Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight), “Spotlight” (Open Road) and “Trumbo” (Bleecker Street)— all touted as Oscar category contenders, open this week. Safe to say, their distributors are nervous as the state of the specialized scene is in disarray.

Two other Sundance 2015  films, “The Royal Road” (self-released) and “How to Change the World” (Picturehouse), also opened with no grosses or estimates available.

Opening

“Love” (Alchemy) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2015
$30,124 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,062

Gaspar Noe’s most recent unrated and provocative film (following “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void”) opened in two lower Manhattan locations (limited by its upcoming VOD availability this Friday) to a very respectable result. The explicit sex in 3D scenes as well as Noe’s reputation overcame mixed reviews. This did fall by half Saturday from Friday, with Halloween a factor. The initial numbers are comparable with the two earlier Noe films release first weekend results.

What comes next: 15 additional markets (with 3D showings not available on VOD) open this Friday.

“Heneral Luna” (Abramorama) 
$17,441 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,814

The Filipino Oscar entry, this historical epic opened initially in three theaters adjacent to the interested community to decent initial results. 

What comes next: 35-40 additional theaters in Filipino-American population centers open this Friday.

“Flowers” (Music Box) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: San Sebastian, London 2014, Seattle 2015
$7,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,000

Spain’s Oscar nominee (in Basque) gets attention with a prime release in Manhattan (at the Paris Theater). This elevates its profile (with its female older audience appeal helping among Academy members) right when screenings are being held. This is a modest result for this theater, but in context of the market and the weekend (the gross went up about a third Saturday) gives it a chance to find an audience.

What comes next: Philadelphia opens this Friday, with the Royal in Los Angeles and others later this month.

“The Wonders” (Oscilloscope)  – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Cannes, New York, AFI 2014
$7,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,500

Alice Rohrwacher’s film set within a beekeeping family in Tuscany won the Grand Prix (second place) at Cannes 2014, and is only now getting a U.S. release. Oscilloscope scored the ideal Lincoln Plaza in Manhattan along with some decent reviews. Note: the distributor’s estimate, double its two-day gross (with Saturday better than Friday) is based on anticipated special group advance sales set for today (Sunday).

What comes next: Boston and Seattle open this Friday,  with Los Angeles and others late this month,

“Carter High” (Play Now)  
$(est.) 90,000 in 20 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 4,500

Based on the true story about a turbulent Dallas high school football program in the late 1980s, and starring Viveca Fox and Charles Dutton, this opened with no coastal attention to some decent numbers in Dallas as elsewhere.

What comes next: These numbers should get this further attention.

“Freaks of Nature” (Sony)  
$(est.) 45,000 in 107 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 421

Humans join forces with local zombies to fight off invading aliens in this off-the-radar Sony release that hit big city theaters (in Los Angeles, playing at the Chinese and AMC theaters) to virtually no business’

What comes next: Sony has announced no plans for this, but home viewing seems its likely future.

“Armor of Light” (Fork)  – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: AFI Docs, Hamptons 2015
$(est.) 10,000 in 24 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 417

Making the case that pro-life religious groups should pay attention to gun deaths, this doc from Walt Disney’s granddaughter Abigail got big city theater bookings but lackluster response.

What comes next: Not likely to be able to expand much beyond this initial foray.

International releases:

The Witness” (China Lion/China) – $190,000 in 40 theaters
“Felix Manolo” (ABS/Philippines) – $(est.) 200,000 in 53 theaters

Week Two

“Suffragette” (Focus) 
$155,000 in 23 theaters (+19); PTA: $6,739; Cumulative: $258,118

Though its modest platform opening last weekend was more than 50% better than “Truth” just before, its second weekend expansion came in only slightly ahead of that film’s initial expansion (“Truth” had a $6,035 PTA in 19 theaters). Focus is moving much more slowly ahead, adding 200 theaters this Friday. The results then likely will suggest how much wider this will go. Focus’ “The Theory of Everything” last year in its mid-November second weekend grossed $735,000 in 41 theaters.

“Heart of a Dog” (Abramorama)
$9,918 in theaters (unchanged); PTA: $9.918; Cumulative: $35,326

It doesn’t help to have a film playing near ground zero of New York’s Halloween Party on a Saturday, but Laurie Anderson’s acclaimed documentary/personal diary film still found interest at the Film Forum. The Nuart in Los Angeles opens this Friday.

“I Smile Back” (Broad Green)
$9,670 in 7 theaters (+5); PTA: $1,381; Cumulative: $31,227

The theater reach for this is limited because of the planned VOD platform coming up shortly, but even so, this second weekend number with a handful of new cities is disappointing despite continued good reviews for Sarah Silverman.

“Nasty Baby” (The Orchard); also available on Video on Demand   
$62,202 in 18 theaters (+16); PTA: $3,455; Cumulative: $74,151

This Kristen Wiig-starring comedy added VOD this week, making these grosses reasonable as other big cities were added to last week’s two.

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

“Room” (A24) – Week 3
$269,500 in 49 theaters (+26); Cumulative: $766,702

“Room” continues to perform ahead of other recent initially platform releases as it widened in its third week. These numbers still fall short of other fall awards contenders last year. For example, “Foxcatcher” grossed over $1 million its third weekend (post-Thanksgiving, which boosted it) in 72 theaters. “Whiplash” is closer: it did slightly less in three fewer theaters its third weekend. “Room” is performing at a level (with an intelligent slow rollout) that similar films have yielded a $3-5 million total. This is without factoring in later awards-parallel boosts likely to come this film’s way. Among A24’s recent films, a relevant comparison is “The End of the Tour,” which opened just about the same as “Room,” then in its second weekend in fewer theaters (36) grossed slightly less ($256,000) on its way to a $3 million total.

“The Assassin” (Well Go) – Week 3 
$(est.) 85,000 40 in theaters (+19); Cumulative: $(est.) 250,000

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s martial arts foray adds a mixture of art houses and Chinese-American theaters as it expands.

“Ladrones” (Lionsgate) – Week 4
$75,000 in 112 theaters (-109); Cumulative: $2,951,000

This Dominican Republic set comedy is ending its run with a very respectable $3 million take.

“Meet the Patels” (Alchemy) – Week 8  
$75,102 in 59 theaters (-27); Cumulative: $1,435,000

This sleeper doc success, crossing over beyond the Indian-American community, is nearing the $1.5 million mark.

“Goodnight Mommy” (Radius/Weinstein) – Week 8
$65,100 in 71 theaters (-9); Cumulative: $1,084,000

Perhaps the most unlikely Oscar Foreign Language submission (this is an Austrian horror film) has now passed $1 million, and is also (by far) the highest grossing of the nine on the list to have been released in the U.S. (several touted titles have yet to open).

“Labyrinth of Lies” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 5
$63,128 in 49 theaters (-16); Cumulative: $441,691

Germany’s Oscar submission continues its modest run, but has gotten enough attention to elevate its nomination chances.

Also noted
“Grandma” (Sony Pictures Classics) – 47,803 in 55 theaters; cumulative $6,744,000

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