The best thing to happen to the specialized world was to get past the awards season. Recent successes “Eye in the Sky,” “Hello, My Name Is Doris” and “Midnight Special” are all expanding well as they compete for older audiences against breakout “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” This week several new entries beat or equaled the top new performers of the year.
Richard Linklater’s latest, 1980-set “Everybody Wants Some!!,” opened to eight cities to strong results from Paramount, while the third music biopic in two weeks, “Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics) scored significant results in its initial two cities. And two niche films started off well. The controversial anti-vaccination doc “Vaxxed” (which was dumped form its slot at the Tribeca Film Festival, did sell-out business in New York, while “Francofonia,” targeted to art lovers, boasted a promising Manhattan debut.
These are all signs of strength in a market that early in the year saw few new releases of note.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” (Paramount) Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2016
Richard Linklater has his fifth straight initial limited release after a career that includes several wide release studio films (Paramount also released “The Bad News Bears” and “School of Rock”). The first weekend runs, playing in eight rather than the traditional two markets, showed initial promise, backed by some of the best reviews of the year.
But initial results in the New York area and Manhattan are below the stronger “Boyhood” and “Before Midnight,” which both showed more niche and older appeal. Paramount, continuing its commitment to specialized films (successful Oscar-winner “The Big Short,” not so playable animated “Anomalisa”), must thread the needle to reach mainstream audiences. But this response shows real promise and justification for greater support ahead.
“Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics) Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: New York 2015, Sundance, Berlin 2016
Don Cheadle’s passion project (he directed as well as starred) did triple the business of SPC’s other music legend bio-film last weekend (“I Saw the Light”) and adds to the recent spate of strong opening limited releases. Miles Davis retains major fan appeal to supplement the decent reviews and strong push SPC and Cheadle gave this. While this was booked for closing night at the New York Film Festival before Sony bought it, rather than take the film into the crowded awards corridor, Sony banked on its ability to thrive outside of that hot-house territory. This likely fares far better at this time of the year, even if its early release hurts later competitive chances.
What comes next: Expect this to have both core art house and some crossover appeal ahead.
Being dropped last minute from the Tribeca Film Festival was the best thing that could have happened to this controversial doc claiming that vaccines are suspect for much harm. The publicity from that (but also curiously few reviews) led to this stunning result at Manhattan’s Angelika Theater, which smartly booked the film at the last minute. It isn’t a one-day wonder either; with sold out shows, Saturday was 50% better than Friday.
What comes next: These numbers along with a group of activists backing its message should ensure further bookings ahead.
Russian master Alexander Sokurov has one past domestic success: “The Russian Ark” did a stunning $3 million over a decade ago. The French-made “Francofonia” scored impressively in two Manhattan runs with decent reviews. Similar to “Ark” (a one-take tour of the magnificent Hermitage), this takes on the Louvre as its core subject, giving it a strong appeal in art-centric theaters.
“Saturday’s Warrior” (Fieldbrook)
A Utah-only release (so far) of this musical with a strong Mormon tie (it was a local stage show decades ago) had a strong regional, grass roots initial response.
This New Zealand drama about a brilliant but disturbed chess coach debuted in North American at 2014’s Toronto festival, where Broad Green also acquired the more successful “99 Homes” and “Learning to Drive.” As has been their pattern, Broad Green booked top theaters in New York and Los Angeles, but the results are disappointing with little suggestion of much beyond minimal specialized attention.
“Standing Tall” (Cohen) Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Cannes 2015
Cohen is releasing more top-end French films (aimed at an older audience) than any distributor these days. This one stars Catherine Deneuve as a judge overseeing juvenile offenders. It opened Cannes last May to add to its pedigree. Playing in top appropriate theaters in New York and Los Angeles, it sparked little response, similar to too many recent subtitled releases.
“Chongqing Hot Pot” (China Lion)
$197,000 in 20 theaters; PTA: $9,850
Released parallel to it domestic premiere (where it is challenging “Batman v Superman” for the top spot), this food-related romantic comedy had a solid North American result in the top theaters reaching Chinese-American audiences.
What comes next: The theater count will double this Friday.
“Kill Your Friends” (Well Go/Toronto 15) – $(est.) 2,500 in 10 theaters
“Ki and Ka” (Eros/India) – $(est.) 480,000 in 14 theaters
“I Saw the Light” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$745,435 in 741 theaters (+736); PTA: $1,006; Cumulative: $806,672
After its sub-$10,000 PTA in its initial five theaters last weekend, SPC went cross-country, taking most mainstream theaters. The hope of getting country music fans of the great Hank Williams to respond weren’t realized. It performed better than their initial wide release “The Bronze” two weeks ago, but it only looks good in comparison.
“Born to Be Blue” (IFC); also available on VIdeo on Demand
$85,200 in 20 theaters (+17); PTA: $4,260; Cumulative: $153,377
VOD got added on Thursday, making the numbers for Ethan Hawke’s portrayal of jazz legend Chet Baker in expanded markets more respectable. IFC adds more markets this Friday.
“April and the Extraordinary World” (GKids)
$(est.) 14,000 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $(est.) 7,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 31,000
Los Angeles came on board this European animated film, with more great reviews and a possible set-up for an Oscar nomination later on (which GKids often achieves).
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 screens + 1)
“Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) Week 4
$4,055,000 in 1,029 theaters (+906); Cumulative: $6,150,000
After a modest initial rollout for a film with this apparent draw, Bleecker Street jumped to over 1,000 screens this weekend and reached ninth place overall. It is by a factor of four their best single weekend ever in their brief history and the widest break ever. The number compares well to the $5.4 million Weinstein got for lead actress Helen Mirren’s “Woman in Gold” (in 50% more theaters its second weekend). This should be primed to expand more and by next weekend be their top grossing film so far.
“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) Week 4
$2,365,000 in 964 theaters (+479); Cumulative: $6,619,000
Roadside pushed this Sally Field-centered romantic comedy out earlier than “Bleecker” did “Sky,” but both are having strong showings. The PTA held up well with the doubling of theaters, suggesting there is still room for more expansion and further growth. This is showing particular strength in middle-America markets, a good sign for its future. (Unlike “Eye,” this has yet to open in Canada, where the Helen Mirren film is already doing well.)
“Midnight Special” (Warner Bros.) Week 3
$581,000 in 58 theaters (+53); Cumulative: $994,000
Although its theater totals vary a bit from the early patterns of hits “Eye” and “Doris,” Jeff Nichols’ latest drama is performing at similar levels in early release. Curiously, against the norms for majors when they handle similar films, Warners has been been quite conservative in their initial release pattern. So far, so good, but the real test will be when it adds considerably more theaters soon.
“Spotlight” (Open Road) Week 22; also available on Video on Demand
$157,198 in 202 theaters (-4); Cumulative: $44,578,000
The Oscar Best-Picture winner has added over $5 million to its take since it took home the gold, despite also being on VOD. So that’s pure bonus money apart from its home-viewing revenue.
“The Lady in the Van” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12
$131,887 in 142 theaters (-74); Cumulative: $9,451,000
It might fall just short of $10 million, but this Maggie Smith showcasing film has been a success for Sony Classics doing what they do best.
$83,200 in 40 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $395,620
The latest foodie doc is getting a modest sampling as it widens. It widens further this Friday.
“Embrace of the Serpent” (Oscilloscope) Week 7
$77,000 in 56 theaters (-17); Cumulative: $1,081,000
Its impressive these days when any subtitled film aimed at art houses passes $1 million, much less a black-and-white film from an unknown Colombian director.
“Marguerite” (Cohen) Week 4
$75,617 in 46 theaters (+16); Cumulative: $229,218
Another worthy French film struggling to get much attention despite a solid job of reaching prime theaters across the country.
“Remember” (A24) Week 4; also available on Video on Demand
$70,000 in 60 theaters (+11); Cumulative: $932,033
Atom Egoyan’s story of an elderly Holocaust survivor tracking down his captor decades later is getting nationwide theatrical interest beyond most VOD films, but the total gross mainly comes from its earlier Canadian release.
“The Big Short” (Paramount) Week 17; also available on Video on Demand
$60,000 in 108 theaters (+41); cumulative: $70,238,000
A last blast for this long-playing hit takes its gross to near its robust final figure.
“Where to Invade Next” (Drafthouse) Week 8
$50,715 in 63 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $3,696,000
Michael Moore’s latest may have fallen short of expectations, but it is still hanging on in more theaters than most releases, two months into its run.