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Arthouse Audit: ‘Weiner’ is a Box Office Winner with the Year’s Biggest Documentary Opening

Arthouse Audit: 'Weiner' is a Box Office Winner with the Year's Biggest Documentary Opening

Weiner” became the year’s strongest documentary opener this weekend, and topped “Maggie’s Plan” — but both films did well enough to warrant significant expansions. Meanwhile, “Love and Friendship” and “The Lobster” remain standouts in their second weekends — “Love” had the higher gross in more theaters, while “Lobster” had the stronger per-theater average. 

Opening

“Weiner” (IFC)  – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Sundance, New Directors/New Films, San Francisco 2016
$85,525 in 5 theaters; PTA: $17,105

Behind-the-scene docs about public figures sometimes soar, but not usually about politicians. It helped that this was the top doc prize winner at Sundance this year. Last year’s Sundance winner, “The Wolfpack,” opened at two New York theaters to even better results, so the attention helps. Here, the sex-scandal drama was related to social media indiscretions, which might have been an added draw –along with curiosity about a political downfall in the middle of an intense political season.At a time when docs centered on non-entertainment world celebrities tend to be cable-bound from the start, IFC’s theatrical bet has initially paid off.

What comes next: The remaining top 10 markets open this week.

“Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Toronto, New York 2015, Sundance, San Francisco 2016
$66,708 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $13,341

Greta Gerwig’s latest New York-based quirky comedy comes in well short of her two most recent (“Frances Ha” and “Mistress America”) by some distance despite decent reviews, great theaters, and costars who include Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. On the plus side, its 64% Saturday increase is far ahead of “Mistress,” which only improved 17% its second day. Also of note is that the initial PTA is only slightly less than SPC’s “The Meddler,” which is doing well so this could still score a credible run.

What comes next: Big city expansions start this Friday.

“Ma ma” (Oscilloscope)  – Metacritic 30:; Festivals include: Toronto 2015
$9,466 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,466

Aided by personal appearances by lead Penelope Cruz, this Spanish film from Julio Medem (“Sex and Lucia,” “Lovers of the Arctic Circle”) overcame bad New York reviews to end up with a better than expected gross at the Sunshine Theater.

What comes next: Three Los Angeles theaters this Friday get added to its initial dates.

“Kaili Blues” (Grasshopper)  –  Metacritic: 81; Festivals include:Locarno 2015, New Directors/New Films 2016
$(est.) 4,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 4,500

An acclaimed film by a first-time Chinese director had the week’s best reviews in New York and the benefit of the city’s high-end Film Society of Lincoln Center location.

What comes next: This looks headed based on reviews to be a niche item with limited theatrical showings.

“Almost Holy” (The Orchard) Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Tribeca 2015
$4,036 in 2 theaters; PTA: $2,018

This doc about a heroic Ukrainian man working with youthful drug addicts got a bicoastal debut with modest results.

What comes next: Not likely to get wide play.

International releases:

“Brohmatsavam” (Classics/India) – $(est.)590,000 in 156 theaters

Week 2

“Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions)
$582,015 in 47 theaters (+43); PTA: $12,833; Cumulative: $780,348

This is a strong expansion for this Jane Austen adaptation, an Amazon production released by Roadside Attractions. Its second weekend gross features a higher PTA than this year’s biggest specialized hit, “Eye in the Sky,” despite playing in 12 more theaters at the same point. The signs are promising for some breakout appeal. Roadside will push this much wider for the upcoming holiday weekend.

“The Lobster” (A24)
$408,000 in 24 theaters (+20); PTA: $17,000; Cumulative: $678.138 (U.S. only)

In about half as many theaters as “Love & Friendship,” this grossed about 70% of “Love & Friendship.” More significantly, it comes in only $25,000 less than the second weekend of high-flying “Eye in the Sky” in only one less theater. That suggests the initial appeal is still at work and should lead to a significant further expansion, with the next wave this Friday.

“Sunset Song” (Magnolia)  
$14,000 in 9 theaters (+6); PTA: $(est.) 1,556; Cumulative: $(est.) 37,900

British director Terence Davies’ latest highly regarded period drama is failing to gain much attention as it expanded this week.

“High-Rise” (Magnolia); also available on Video on Demand  
$39,000 in 27 theaters (-14); PTA: $1,444; Cumulative: $160,000

Terror in a luxury London apartment complex has been available for weeks on VOD, with these added numbers (above normal for most parallel availability films) reasonable under this circumstances,

“A Monster With a Thousand Heads” (Music Box)  
$5,500 in 4 theaters (+2); PTA: $1,375; Cumulative: $11,500

This Mexican drama about a woman fighting insurance companies added Los Angeles with minimal results.

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

“The Meddler” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$777,539 in 464 theaters (+337); Cumulative: $2,043,000

The leader among wider films this weekend (coming in #12 overall) is Susan Sarandon’s mother/daughter story, with a big leap in theater totals. The gross is about half of the successful recent “Hello, My Name Is Doris” and “Lady in the Van” at a similar point in their runs, but still ahead of many of late.

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) Week 4
$550,131 in 271 theaters (+77); Cumulative: $1,682,000

A week earlier in its run than “The Meddler” and in fewer theaters, “Infinity” has grossed 85% of “The Meddler,” suggesting that it will go further and have even stronger expansion chances.

“Swing Street” (Weinstein) Week 6
$350,000 in 520 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $2,490,000

John Carney’s latest is falling far short of “Once” and “Begin Again.” With nearly the same number of theaters, the gross dropped 60%. Low interest and little word of mouth defeated Weinstein’s aggressive push this time around.

“A Bigger Splash” (Fox Searchlight) Week 3
$338,000 in 128 theaters (+102); Cumulative: $787,773

In its third weekend this Italian-villa set beautiful-people story grossed about the same as “The Meddler” when it had the same number of theaters.  That shows the dominance of older audiences in the wider specialized world, since “Splash” opened quite a bit better in its initial runs. This though still looks to expand wider and get further attention.

“Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) Week 11
$168,424 in 198 theaters (-162); Cumulative: $18,214,000

Coming down to earth after a great winner, this Helen Mirren military thriller has set the benchmark for 2016 specialized releases.

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) Week 11
$115,525 in 155 theaters (-103); Cumulative: $14,037,000

Also still hanging on late in the run, Sally Field’s rom-com continues to add to its impressive total.

“Green Room” (A24) Week 6
$85,000 in 162 theaters (-615); Cumulative: $2,793,000

Despite strong reviews and a major push by the usually successful A24 team, this thriller failed to remotely duplicate the success of other indie genre films like “It Follows.”

“A Hologram for the King” (Roadside Attractions) Week 5
$65,860 in 138 theaters (-208); Cumulative: $4,056,000

Tom Hanks and Dave Eggers combined couldn’t push this fairly wide release to what might have been expected. This will come  in less than half of the somewhat similar outsider in the Middle Eastern world “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” a few years ago.

“Dough” (Menemsha) Week 15    
$63,000 in 46 theaters (+9); Cumulative: $884,993

Screens 46 Theatres

This off the radar British comedy could yet reach an unlikely $1 million.

Also noted:

“Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics)  – $46,459 in 52 theaters; Cumulative: $2,484,000
“Dark Horse” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $30,891 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $83,023
“Dheepan” (IFC) – $23,200 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $86,385

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