Arthouse Audit: Hiddleston v Hawke in Music Legend Biopics

Arthouse Audit: Hiddleston v Hawke in Music Legend Biopics


Two Toronto-premiered musical biopics— “Born to Be Blue” (IFC) and “I Saw the Light” (Sony Pictures Classics)— opened limited the same day and pulled similar upbeat results (“I Saw the Light” is playing in two more theaters). But neither looks breakout, either (“Born to Be Blue” hits VOD on Thursday).

Women are supporting their own at the specialty box office. Three veteran actresses—Sally Field, Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith—with a combined five Oscars and more than 200 years of age among them, boast the three best wide-release specialized films. “Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) and “Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) are recent, while SPC’s “Lady in the Van” continues its strong run. All three films are thriving outside the normal year-end awards corridor. Of course that’s due to their basic appeal, but it proves yet again that there’s interest year-round for potential contenders.

Among holdovers, The second weekend of Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special” dived nearly 50% from its stellar opening weekend— the year’s best opening limited numbers so far.

Under the radar, CBS Films’ “Get a Job” (released by Lionsgate) went VOD. It had pedigree —”Whiplash” star Miles Teller and director Dylan Kidd (“Roger Dodger”)—but went out without any festival attention whatsoever.


Opening

“Born to Be Blue” (IFC) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Toronto 2015
$47,340 in 3 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,780

Ethan Hawke and strong reviews (as well as interest in jazz great Chet Baker) turned this slice of Baker’s life into the top performer over “I Saw the Light” (“Blue” is playing in fewer theaters). This is a decent if not spectacular showing. IFC, which frequently takes top releases quickly to VOD, did what they needed to get this attention in advance of its home viewing availability this Thursday.

What comes next: Along with VOD, this expands to other big cities this week.

“I Saw the Light” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 42; Festivals include: Toronto, Hamptons 2015
$50,464 in 5 theaters; PTA: $10,093

Sony Classics gave this Hank Williams biopic elevated support and booked top New York/Los Angeles theaters, taking the silver among iconic midcentury musician biopics. With mediocre reviews, this mixed result is no surprise (perhaps even at the higher end of expectations). Originally slotted as an Oscar contender for Tom Hiddleston’s lauded performance, SPC pulled back late in the game and rescheduled for spring. They made the right choice to get this out in a less competitive time frame.

What comes next: The usual national comprehensive SPC rollout. But don’t expect much better results (though some locations could see some interest from country music fans).

“April and the Extraordinary World” (GKids) – Metacritic: 87; Festivals include: Hamptons 2015, Portland 2016
$12,101 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,101

GKids releases more top quality animated films than any other distributor, many from overseas, and aimed at older audiences more than families. French/Belgian “April” is getting specialized treatment and scored strong reviews (similar to the producer’s earlier “Persepolis.” The one theater opening in Manhattan is at the level of several of their successful releases.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens on Friday, with other markets rolling out in the weeks ahead.

“Oopiri” (India Independent) 
$(est.) 800,000 in 107 theaters; PTA: $7,477

This Indian remake of the French global breakout “Intouchables” ranked #13 for the weekend.

What comes next: An ongoing run at current theaters, with perhaps a small expansion.

“Valley of Love” (Strand)  – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Cannes 2015, Rendezvous With French Cinema 2016
$10,428 in 2 theaters; PTA: $5,214

Two icons of French cinema,  Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert, reteam for the first time in decades in this Death Valley film that had some major fest play before this release. The initial grosses are modest and below what the combo drew at their peak.

What comes next: Strand as always should get big city placement for this.


“El Clan”
 (20th Century Fox)
$(est.) 53,000 in 17 theaters (+14); PTA: $(est.) 3,118; Cumulative: $(est.) 78,000
 
20th Century Fox produced this Argentine crime family drama for local release. Its American showing, with decent reviews and earlier strong festival attention, has been focused as much on Spanish-speaking audiences as art houses, with modest results so far.

Also available on Video on Demand:

“Fastball” (Gravitas Ventures) – $(est.) 17,000 in 21 theaters
“Get a Job” (Lionsgate) – $(est.) 6,000 in 9 theaters
“Jane Wants a Boyfriend” (Filmbuff) – $(est.) 5,000 in 5 theaters
“They’re Watching” (Amplify) – $(est.) 7,000 in 17 theaters

International releases:
“Ambarsariya” (/White Hill) – $(est.) in400,000 49 theater

Week 2

“Midnight Special” (Warner Bros.)
$97,000 in 5 theaters (no change); PTA: $19,400; Cumulative: $358,000

Warners stayed with the same number of theaters this week for Jeff Nichols’ latest acclaimed film, which dropped 49%. This is not great for a film with huge acclaim. This suggests a disconnect between marketing and playability. Warners expands this on Friday.

“My Golden Days” (Magnolia)
$(est.) 26,000 in 11 theaters (+8); PTA: $(est.) 2,363; Cumulative: $(est.) 49,000

French auteur Arnaud Desplechin’s latest expanded quickly (for a subtitled film) to modest results.

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

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) Week  3
$1,575,000 in 480 theaters (+320); Cumulative: $3,143,000

This Sally Field vehicle continues to show strength as Roadside rapidly expands the film. It isn’t performing at quite the level of their hits “Mr. Holmes,” “Love and Mercy” and “A Most Wanted Man” at similar theater counts, but looks with further expansion to continue to be a strong performer.

“Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street)  Week 3
$1,001,202 in 123 theaters (+); Cumulative: $1,723,000

On their one-year anniversary, Bleecker Street lands a second film in the weekend Top Ten (in tenth place this weekend) and the second to gross over a million for three days. The first was their initial entry, “Danny Collins.” “Eye in the Sky” looks stronger than that film, which went to 739 theaters and a total just under $1.5 million. “Eye in the Sky” looks capable of heading to that theater count and more as it expands, likely pushing pushing far beyond the nearly $8 million their two biggest titles to date: “Trumbo” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

“The Lady in the Van” (Sony Pictures Classics)  Week 11
$226,786 in 216 theaters (+85); Cumulative: $9,173,000

A third grande dame, Maggie Smith, boasts the biggest film of the trio, which is now pushing to hit $10 million, which the other two should match in due time.

“Spotlight” (Open Road)  Week 21; also available on Video on Demand
$160,057 in 206 theaters (-237); Cumulative: $44,341,000

Credit its Best Picture win for these grosses this late in the game.

“Embrace of the Serpent” (Oscilloscope) Week 6
$105,000 in 73 theaters (-13); Cumulative: $942,982

This Colombia Foreign Language contender will gross more than all but winner “Son of Saul,” but its decent but not spectacular wider results despite great reviews and strong initial start confirm the problems subtitled films are having these days.

“Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight)  Week 21; also available on Video on Demand
$62,000 in 86 theaters (-26); Cumulative: $38,067,000

Another Oscar contender still hanging around despite VOD.

“The Big Short” (Paramount)  Week 16; also available on Video on Demand
$50,000 in 66 theaters (-67); Cumulative: $70,158,000

VOD started up, bringing the theatrical part of this prestige hit for Paramount to an end.

“City of Gold” (IFC)  Week 3 
$92,400 in 33 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $275,020

The food documentary (focusing on LA’s Pultizer-winning culinary critic Jonathan Gold) is showing some appeal as it widens, although not close to the level of the food doc breakout “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” which did about triple the business as the same point on its way to over $2.5 million three years ago.

“Remember” (A24)  Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$81,000 in 49 theaters (+22); Cumulative: $933,533

Another film with a senior Oscar winner as its draw stars Christopher Plummer in Atom Egoyan’s story of an elderly Holocaust survivor chasing his decades-earlier captor. This is getting wider than usual play for a VOD film, in part because of its older audience appeal and niche theaters responding to its story. Note – the cumulative total includes mostly Canadian revenues from its earlier non-A24 release. The stateside take so far is $213,143.

“Where to Invade Next” (Drafthouse)  Week 7
$67,080 in 68 theaters (-42); Cumulative: $3,602,000

Michael Moore’s film still retains some theaters near the end of its run.

“Knight of Cups” (Broad Green)  Week 3
$63,721 in 68 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $453,414

Already, Terrence Malick’s latest looks over and out.

“Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight)  Week 21; also available on Video on Demand
$62,000 in 86 theaters (-26); Cumulative: $38,067,000

Another Oscar contender still hanging around despite VOD.

“Marguerite” (Cohen) Week 3
$48,600 in 30 theaters (+16); Cumulative: $130,474
 
The Cesar Best-Actress winner, with good reviews behind it, doubled its screen count but still is only doing modest business. Yet another case of subtitled films lacking much draw, even among what used to be a steady interest in ones from France.

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