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Arthouse Audit: ‘The Wailing’ Opens Strong as ‘Love & Friendship’ Holds

"The Lobster" and "Maggie's Plan" build word-of-mouth as as they expand.

“The Wailing”

The niche openings this weekend showed more strength than last week, as several could build further art house success. Leading the way is the Cannes breakout and South Korean genre hit “The Wailing” (Well Go USA), which scored in multiple cities.

Manhattan saw three limited debuts with $10,000-plus per-theater-averages, more than respectable for their independent roots: two documentaries, “The Witness” (Filmrise) and “Art Bastard” (Cavu) as well as drama “The Fits,” a strong festival-promoted Cincinnati-set drama.

“Love & Friendship” (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions) remained strong as it expanded further, though not at last week’s level. And “The Lobster” also saw a major jump in theaters, faring well if not evenly among its venues, with interest from younger more than older audiences.

Opening

“The Wailing” (Well Go USA) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Cannes 2016
$224,700 in 32 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,022

This South Korean genre-bending supernatural police thriller debuted at Cannes, is a big hit at home and is now playing a variety of North American theaters. (It initially opened exclusively at a Korean-owned theater in Los Angeles.) The mix includes some top AMC big city venues, including the Lincoln Square in Manhattan. And it seems to be working. Not only is the PTA decent for the range of theaters, bit it rose —not automatic for genre films — 54% Saturday from Friday.

What comes next: Grosses like these should lead to more expansion across the country as well as sustaining most of these theaters in a tough period to get screens as the summer gets more crowded.

“The Witness” (FilmRise) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: New York 2015
$(est.) 13,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 13,000

With a strong initial response, this well-reviewed doc about the still-relevant mid-1960s New York Kitty Genovese murder played the IFC Center with good local media coverage.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens on June 17 with other cities forthcoming.

“Art Bastard” (Cavu) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Newport Beach 2016
$19,600 in 2 theaters; PTA: $9,800

Continuing to mine the rich vein of interest in art-related subjects, this documentary about a renegade New York painter earned limited (and only recent) festival attention. But it scored two top Manhattan theaters and managed a respectable response, helped in particular by a strong New York Times review. For a low-profile release, these are encouraging numbers.

What comes next: DC opens next Friday, then Los Angeles a week later, followed by other big cities.

“The Fits” (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 88; Festivals include: Venice 2015, Sundance, New Directors/New Films 2016
$ 11,300 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,300

This independent film shot in Cincinatti, premiered in Venice, then was showcased at two major festivals earlier this year. It features an African-American pre-teen girl who starts out as a novice dancer, then discovers drill marching, all against the backdrop of unexplained physical issues. At the Netflix-minimum of 72 minutes, this marks a challenging release on top of its atypical elements. Despite this, very strong reviews and placement at the enterprising new Metrograph Theater in downtown Manhattan led to a respectable debut.

What comes next: Oscilloscope has the opportunity to nurture this as they have in the past with sensitive, demanding films. Los Angeles and home town Cincinnati open next, this Friday.

“Time to Choose” (Abramorama) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Telluride 2015
$12,000 in 6 theaters; PTA: $2,000

Charles Ferguson’s most recent doc focuses on ways to combat and solve the problem of global warming. An activist-based opening targeted several initial cities with modest results.

What comes next: A multi-city expansion is already set, including some smaller markets.

“Approaching the Universe” (Vertical) – $(est.) 6,500 in 11 theaters

International releases:
“A Aa” (/India) – $1,350,000 in 112 theaters
“Housefull 3” (India/Eros) – $(est.)700,000 in 132 theaters

'Chevalier'

“Chevalier”

Week Two
“Chevalier” (Strand)
$(est.) 4,800 in 4 theaters (+1); PTA: $(est.) 1,200; Cumulative: $(est.) 16,000

A prominent rave review for this acclaimed Greek male bonding tale told by a woman director failed to elevate this in Los Angeles, similar to its initial openings last week.

“Presenting Princess Shaw” (Magnolia); also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 8,000 in 11 theaters (+8); PTA: $(est.) 727; Cumulative: $(est.) 15,000

The viewing for this doc about a Youtube star and her mentor is mainly at home, with strong reviews not propelling others into its limited theaters.

“The Fallen Idol” (Rialto) – reissue
$(est.) 8,000 in 4 (+2) theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 28,000

Carol Reed’s 1948 classic doubled its screens to four, with smaller results than for its initial reissue take.

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

'Love & Friendship'

“Love & Friendship”

“Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 4
$2,160,000 in 819 theaters (+326); Cumulative: $7,042,000

Though Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen adaptation is still strong, its further expansion didn’t quite sustain the momentum of its #9 showing last weekend. The gross is down about $250,000 and the PTA is off more than half with more than double the theater count. This suggests that the response isn’t universally strong, though many theaters are doing well. Among Roadside’s recent hits (this is an Amazon production) the gross is not far behind the best weekend of “Hello, My Name Is Doris” at 147 more theaters. And that film got to a very impressive $14 million, looking possible for this as well.

“The Lobster” (A24) – Week 4
$1,550,000 in 560 theaters (+444); Cumulative: $4,000,000

The most unlikely crossover arthouse release of the year took a big expansion this weekend. The total is decent (coming in at about 60% of what the more quickly widening “Love & Friendship” did last week). But the results show mixed reaction. The top theaters are holding well compared to earlier results, while many of the new ones show minor results, so are not likely to hold or further expand. This still is impressive and a credit to A24, which has managed to find once again an interested younger urban audience apart from the normal suburban older core group that sustains most hits these days. The latter though seem less taken by this.

“The Meddler” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 7
$257,878 in 222 theaters (-198); Cumulative: $3,648,000

Middle-level success for this Susan Sarandon-led mother/daughter story will end up a little over $4 million after an aggressive expansion.

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) – Week 6
$283,680 in 194 theaters (-94); Cumulative: $2,939,000

This latest British biopic isn’t showing the strength in outlying theaters suggested by its initial decent limited openings.

“Weiner” (IFC) – Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$215,180 in 58 theaters (+31); Cumulative: $607,221

By far the year’s most successful parallel theatrical and VOD release, this documentary continues to show strength. Additional top cities add on this Friday.

“A Bigger Splash” (Fox Searchlight) – Week 5
$160,000 in 220 theaters (-158); Cumulative: $1,724,000

This glamorous Euro-couples on the Riviera drama opened well initially but hasn’t had the same wider impact as it looks headed for somewhere under $2.5 million.

“Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 3
$153,811 in 34 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $406,729

Modest results continue for Greta Gerwig’s latest quirky comedy. The grosses are about 60% of her “Mistress America” totals at about the same number of theaters. The promising news is despite more than doubling the theaters, the PTA only fell about 20%, a much better than average showing. This suggests good word of mouth and continued interest in limited situations. With support this could still show some life ahead.

Also noted:
“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) – $48,650; Cumulative: $14,729,000
“Sing Street” (Weinstein) – $46,000; Cumulative: $2,894,000
“Dark Horse” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $45,434; Cumulative: $199,362

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