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Arthouse Audit: Festival Entries ‘Demolition,’ ‘Louder Than Bombs’ and ‘Mr. Right’ Open Soft

Arthouse Audit: Festival Entries 'Demolition,' 'Louder Than Bombs' and 'Mr. Right' Open Soft


Among this week’s openers are a slew of films with festival pedigrees, including six from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. But they showed little success. TIFF opener Fox Searchlight’s “Demolition,” boasting high-end director Jean-Marc Vallee and star Jake Gyllenhaal, bombed in fairly wide release, while closer “Mr. Right” (Focus World) went straight to Video on Demand. Cannes-premiere “Louder Than Bombs,” with a top-flight cast led by Isabelle Huppert, and Jesse Eisenberg, top theaters and upbeat reviews, gained little traction in its two-theater limited debut.

Yet another niche documentary scored top numbers: “Viva Activa” (Zeitgeist), centering on historian Hannah Arendt, debuted well at New York’s Film Forum.

Audiences are still sampling five wider holdovers. So far older-skewing “Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) and “Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) are outpacing decent performers “Midnight Special” (Warner Bros.), “Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Everybody Wants Some” (Paramount). But all five are pulling moviegoer interest at the same time, which is a positive sign.

Opening

“Demolition” (20th Century Fox) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 50;
Festivals include: Toronto 2015, South by Southwest 2016

$1,125,000 in 854 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,317

Despite recent winning streaks for both director Jean-Marc Vallee (“Dallas Boys Club,” “Wild”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler,” “Southpaw”), this tough family drama of a recent widower self-destructing earned as little business as possible considering its pedigree and backing by Fox Searchlight. The Toronto 2015 opening night film (Indiewire review here) did little more than half as well as Searchlight’s similar mid-level Toronto entry last year, “True Story,” starring James Franco. That grossed just under $2 million in 831 theaters (with similarly mixed reviews). That “Demolition” couldn’t even reach that minor level is a surprise, but it was competing against more adult-aimed specialty hits.

What comes next: This will have a short shelf life and struggle to hit $2 million.

“Louder Than Bombs” (The Orchard) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic:
71; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, Hamptons 2015

$24,341 in 4 theaters; PTA: $6,085

This drama marks the transition to English for Norwegian director Joachim Trier (“Oslo: August 31”). Produced by indie stalwarts Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (“Nebraska”), the film landed a stellar cast led by Huppert and Eisenberg and a berth in competition at Cannes last year (IW review here). Opening after the latter’s well received “End of the Tour” and in the wake of his villain turn in “Batman v Superman,” this story about the aftermath of a war photographer’s death had little impact despite strong theater placement and decent reviews, showing minor results in New York and Los Angeles.

What comes next: This is set to open in other top markets ahead, but prospects don’t look great for improved reaction.

The Invitation(Drafthouse) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 76;
Festivals include: South by Southwest, London 2015; also available on Video on
Demand

$67,739 in 10 theaters; PTA: $6,739

Director Karyn Kusama broke out with her indie hit “Girlfight,” stumbled with two studio genre efforts, and returns to the director’s chair after seven years with a well-received horror/thriller about eerie events at a dinner party. Even though it’s playing on VOD as well as a few theaters, the movie delivered a decent showing, particularly at Los Angeles’ ArcLight Hollywood and at the IFC Center in New York. It currently is ranked #8 among all films at iTunes, showing real strength (and unspecified added revenue) there.

What comes next: This already was set to expand this week, but these grosses will give it more traction.

“Viva Activa: The Story of Hannah Arendt” (Zeitgeist)  – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Atlanta Jewish 2016

$13,444 in 1 theater; PTA: $13,444; Cumulative: $18,668

Another documentary with little advance hype, this scored initially with a targeted audience, once again at New York’s Film Forum. That theater played the German bio-film “Hannah Arendt” three years ago to even bigger success (opening weekend $31,000), so it’s no surprise that its distributor Zeitgeist lined up the same venue for this film. 

What comes next: The first Arendt film went on to over $700,000. This doc likely doesn’t reach that level, but similar theaters will be available and bring this to a decent result.

“Mr. Right” (Focus World)  –
Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Toronto 2015; also available on Video on
Demand

$(est.) 25,000 in 35 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 714

Toronto’s closing night film, a rom-com with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, was already slated for VOD play when it premiered. Its theatrical bookings resulted in mild reviews and little paid-audience interest, but at least it got some exposure for its home arena.

What comes next: VOD is its future.

“Neon Bull” (Kino Lorber) 
Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto
2015, New Directors/New Films 2016

$7,133 in theater; PTA: $7,133

The week’s best-reviewed release (it opened exclusively at Manhattan’s Film Society of Lincoln Center) had a decent response for an offbeat foreign drama. Another Toronto film to open this week, its back-country Brazil bull-corralling rodeo subject is hardly audience bait, but its critical response and theater placement led to a good initial result.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with most other big cities added in May.

 
“High Strung” (Paladin)  –
Metacritic: 48

$45,255 in 100 theaters; PTA: $4,526

Two fish-out-of-water creative types—one a Midwest dancer, the other an English musician—meet cute in Manhattan. This elevated national release in 100 theaters met minimal response.

What comes next: Tough to expand or get holdovers with these numbers.

International releases:

“Sardar Gabbar Singh” (Eros/India) – $(est.) 450,000 in  160 theaters

Week 2

“Everybody Wants Some!!” (Paramount)

$510,000 in 63 theaters (+44); PTA: $8,095; Cumulative: $974,000

Richard Linklater’s latest broadened to most top markets with reasonable results for a specialized release not targeted at the more responsive older crowd. Its PTA is a somewhat under “Eye in the Sky” and “Hello, My Name Is Doris” numbers at this stage, and significantly below the results for “Boyhood” ($1,170,000 its second weekend in 34 theaters). Still, with its younger appeal and Paramount behind it this college comedy should show considerable growth ahead.

“Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics)

$227,411 in 25 theaters (+21); PTA: $9,096; Cumulative: $337,374

Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis portrayal expanded to top markets this weekend, getting a decent sampling. It looks like SPC’s second solid release of the year, with the second weekend PTA close to “Lady in the Van” at the same point.

“Chongqing Hot Pot” (China Lion)

$235,000 in 46 theaters (+26); PTA: $5,109; Cumulative: $524,987

This local China smash added domestic theaters this weekend, with still a quite good per theater average at venues where it has built-in appeal.

Francofonia” (Music Box)

$20,000 in theaters (+1); PTA: $6,667; Cumulative: $52,640

A decent second-week hold for Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s study of the Louvre. Los Angeles adds on this Friday.

“The Dark Horse” (Broad Green)

$6,991 in 3 theaters (+1); PTA: $2,333; Cumulative: $18,916

This at-home 2014 New Zealand hit about a bipolar chess champion isn’t finding much appeal in its initial limited American dates.

“Standing Tall” (Cohen)

$6,612 in 2 theaters (unchanged); PTA: $3,306; Cumulative: $18,034

Even with Catherine Deneuve as a juvenile court judge, this French street drama isn’t bringing much heft in its bicoastal initial dates, but at least it only dropped slightly its second weekend.

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

“Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) – Week 5

$2,829,000 in 1,089 theaters (+60); Cumulative: $10,406,000

Down only 25% with a small increase in theaters, Helen Mirren’s military thriller crossed the $10 million mark (a first for Bleecker Street) and looks to have enough momentum to soar considerably higher. While it lags behind Mirren’s hit “Woman in Gold” which Weinstein pushed last year to $33 million, “Eye in the Sky” is setting an early 2016 specialty release benchmark. 

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 5

$1,615,000, in 979 theaters (+16); Cumulative: $9,386,000

Most of its expansion seems over, but Sally Field’s rom-com about an older woman’s crush on a younger man is still holding well. This looks to become Roadside’s third $10 million-plus grossing film, all outside the awards push period, which is a remarkable achievement indeed.

“Midnight Special” (Warner Bros.) – Week 4

$1,156,000 in 493 theaters (+435); Cumulative: $2,300,000

Warners’ pushed out Jeff Nichols’ latest film fairly deep this weekend. The grosses are about two-thirds that of “Doris” when it expanded to 485 theaters a few weeks ago. “Midnight Special”‘s 53% jump Saturday was lower than other recent high-end review-oriented releases, suggesting that this might not break through as far as some other recent successes.

“I Saw the Light” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 3

$307,195 in 548 theaters (-193); Cumulative: $1,358,000

Credit SPC for hanging on to most of its wider-break theaters despite low results in the Tom Hiddleston vehicle’s first wide week. That said, few people sampled this Hank Williams Jr. biopic.

“Born to Be Blue” (IFC) – Week 3; also available on Video on Demand

$108,100 in 43 theaters (+22); Cumulative: $411,311

Doing about as well as can be expected with the competition from VOD (and lesser access to theaters); Ethan Hawke’s turn as Chet Baker (interview here) is having a decent run even if the gross is muted by home-viewing alternatives.

“The Lady in the Van” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 13

$100,952 in 104 theaters (-38); Cumulative: $9,630,000

Three months into its run, Maggie Smith’s latest is close to topping $10 million (though fellow Dame Helen Mirren beat her to that in less than half the time with “Eye in the Sky”).

“Spotlight” (Open Road) – Week 23; also available on Video on
Demand

$85,602 in 112 theaters (-90); Cumulative: $44,733,000

Approaching the half-year mark in release, the Best Picture winner has grossed $2 million more than last year’s Oscar winner “Birdman” with a nearly identical release pattern.

“Marguerite” (Cohen) – Week 5

$77,677 in 42 theaters (-4); Cumulative: $332,226

As usual, Cohen is getting this French release to representative theaters across the country. This bio-film of a mid-century opera star without any well-known names is doing about as well as can be expected in these tricky times for subtitled films.

“Remember” (A24) – Week 5; also available on Video on Demand

$74,000 in 51 theaters (-9); Cumulative: $1,031,000

Atom Egoyan’s latest film (starring Christopher Plummer as a 90-something holocaust survivor pursuing his captor) continues to show theatrical life despite parallel VOD showings. Its U.S. only total is $419,000.

“City of Gold” (IFC) – Week 5

$60,000 in 50 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $481,392

Expanding to close to its maximum depth, this food doc starring LA critic Jonathan Gold is turning out to be one of the top non-fiction releases of the year.

“Embrace of the Serpent” (Oscilloscope)- Week 8

$51,000 in 36 theaters (-20); Cumulative: $1,169,000

This black-and-white Colombian film has grossed about two-thirds as much as its rival (and ultimate winner) for Foreign Language Film “Son of Saul,” with nearly all of its gross since Oscar night, based on the film’s appeal separate from awards interest.

Also noted:

“My Golden Days” (Magnolia) – $(est.) 35,000 in 25 theaters (+1); cumulative: (est.) 165,000
“Where to Invade Next” (Drafthouse) – $32,590 in 51 theaters; cumulative: $3,766,000

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