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Arthouse Audit: ‘Indigination’ Leads Strong Openers

Adults are flocking to arthouses as new late summer entries perform and Woody Allen's "Café Society" expands well.

Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon in "Indignation"

“Indignation”

Three Sundance premieres are boosting the late summer specialty box office as “Indignation” (Roadside Attractions), “Equity” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Gleason” (Amazon/Open Road) lead openers. Several more including Woody Allen’s “Café Society” (Amazon/Lionsgate) are holding well with positive results beyond just initial dates.

Several documentaries getting play continue to impress, and two more beyond “Gleason” scored initial New York attention: “Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil” (Kino Lorber) and “Miss Sharon Jones!” (Starz).

Opening
“Indignation” (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin, San Francisco, Seattle 2016
$89,072 in 4 theaters; PTA: $22,268
After a long career as a producer-screenwriter (Ang Lee’s”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain”) and distributor (Focus Features before Universal revamped the company), James Schamus directed his adaptation of Philip Roth’s early 1950s Oberlin-set story of a Jewish working class kid trying to adapt. After his earlier run of success, the reaction to his debut is gratifying. With strong New York/Los Angeles positioning in a week with several strong films also opening (often at the same theaters), it came out on top. A strong Saturday (46% above Friday) sealed the deal and suggested good initial word of mouth. Roadside normally goes wider than most specialized distributors initially, but this release feels more like Focus. Its subject and literary pedigree likely give it a strong chance to continue decent or better numbers as it widens.
What comes next: A slow rollout will accelerate with 50 theaters planned for this Friday and then likely far more beyond then.

“Equity” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Sundance, Tribeca, Los Angeles 2016
$80,729 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $20,182
A very decent opening for this well-reviewed Wall Street women-centered thriller, lead by Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) and a strong cast playing financial execs involved in complicated dealings. This is less an exposé like “The Big Short” and more similar to successful drama “Margin Call.” This time women are front and center in the dealings, which found considerable interest in both New York and Los Angeles openings. This is SPC’s best opening in several months, beating “Maggie’s Plan” and “The Meddler,” both of which went on to middling level crossover interest. Saturday’s number was just slightly over Friday’s; it’s too early to call overall audience reaction.
What comes next: Chicago, San Francisco and Washington next week are the initial added runs in what is likely to be a broad expansion ahead.

Gleason

“Gleason”

“Gleason” (Amazon/Open Road) – Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, Seattle 2016
$129,223 in 9 theaters; PTA: $14,358
Open Road, increasingly including top-flight specialized films on its release schedule, opened this deeply emotional doc (a hit at Sundance) in five markets— the usual New York/Los Angeles duo plus three host cities for its NFL ALS-afflicted subject. With heavy promotions and outside-the-box marketing, the doc amassed a decent total in its initial dates. One suggestion of limited appeal: its 33% drop Saturday from Friday, indicating that efforts geared to getting word of mouth kickstarted aren’t initially paying off. The film is scoring great reviews, strong support from Amazon and Open Road and with its emotionally strong impact could, whatever its box office future, gain some awards attraction later on.
What comes next: With Open Road involved, expect to see substantial expansion in the coming weeks.

“Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil” (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: IDFA 2016
$12,502 in 1 theaters; PTA: $12,502; Cumulative: $19,514
The secret sauce of initial documentary success continues: focus on a famous creative figure, get a date at New York’s Film Forum, watch the niche patrons buy tickets. This doc about the manic Dutch painter from 500 years ago had little film festival attention, comes from an unknown director and had limited and only modestly favorable reviews. But those attuned to the art world in this cultural center learned about it and showed up.
What comes next: Los Angeles begins the national expansion this Friday.

"Miss Sharon Jones!"

“Miss Sharon Jones!”

“Miss Sharon Jones!” (Starz) – Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Toronto, Palm Springs 2015, South by Southwest, Seattle 2016
$12,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,000
This doc on a dynamic vocalist well-known in New York and beyond is the latest from veteran director Barbara Kopple, who has directed major social issue films (“Harlan County USA” won an Oscar) as well as profiles on Woody Allen, Gregory Peck and the Dixie Chicks. The subject here is more personal than performance, as Ms. Jones struggles with both career and cancer. This opened at Manhattan’s other prime niche doc showcase, the IFC Center. The star and director appeared at some shows boosting interest and pushing the gross into very decent territory.
What comes next: This won’t be limited to New York. Landmark’s Nuart, another ideal location opens this Friday, with prime bookings in big cities across the country ahead in a conventional theater-centered run.

Also available on Video on Demand:
“Into the Forest” (A24/Toronto 2015) – $(est.) 5,500 in 12 theaters
“Shelly” (IFC/Berlin 2016) – $ no estimate available
“Tallulah” (Netflix/Sundance 2016) – no estimate available
“Ants on a Shrimp” (IFC/Berlin 2016) – $(est.) 600 in theaters
“Lace Crater” (Invincible/Toronto 2015) – no estimate available for theaters
“The Land” (IFC/Sundance 2016) – $12,400 in 2 theaters
“Can We Take a Joke?” (Goldwyn/Dox NYC 2015) – $(est.) 3,000 in 2 theaters (VOD on Tuesday)

International releases:
“Dishoom” (Eros/India) – (est.)$440,000 in 111 theaters
“Bambukat” (Nadar/India) – (est.)$310,000 in 35 theaters
“Pelli Chupulu” (Freeze Frame/India) – (est.)$240,000 in 53 theaters
“League of Gods” (Sony/Hong Kong) – (est.)80,000 in 54 theaters

Don't Think Twice

“Don’t Think Twice”

The Film Arcade

Week Two
“Don’t Think Twice” (Film Arcade)
$150,421 in 5 theaters (+4); PTA: $30,084; Cumulative: $261,523
The Mike Birbiglia and company roadshow moved to Los Angeles this weekend, replicating at the Landmark many of the multi-screen sellouts combined with Q & As. It also opened in Chicago and added locations in New York. The result for this comedy about improv actors is continued strong numbers. This is expanding more slowly than the director’s earlier “Sleepwalk With Me,” which went to streaming right after its initial dates. That film did a bit more than twice the business here in 24 more theaters, making the second weekend PTA look good. “Sleepwalk” even with VOD got to over $2 million, which looks doable for Birbiglia’s second effort (produced by Ira Glass).

“Absolutely Fabulous” (Fox Searchlight)
$800,000 in 355 theaters (+42); PTA: $2,254; Cumulative: $3,367,000
Even with adding theaters this movie version of the popular British comedy series dropped more than half its second weekend (it approached $1.9 million for the first three days). Fox Searchlight correctly guessed this had some limited interest in the fan base, but seems to have gotten what it could quickly. That number will approach $5 million, similar to what several other summer films will get, just in a briefer period. Back in native U.K. (a market about 1/6 of North America) this has already grossed $20 million.

“Train to Busan” (Well Go)
$228,800 in 29 theaters (+2); PTA: $7,890; Cumulative: $716,768
Down only 20% with about the same number of theaters, this Korean zombie thriller continues to get interest both from those who follow the country’s releases here as well as genre fans. This could easily see long runs and additional theaters ahead.

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in Woody Allen's Café Society

“Cafe Society”

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

“Café Society” (Lionsgate) Week 3
$2,250,000 in 565 theaters (+515); Cumulative: $3,907,000
Woody Allen’s latest is easily outpacing his two most recent efforts (“Magic in the Moonlight” and “Irrational Man”) but is not, in its third week, showing signs of equalling “To Rome With Love,” much less major successes “Midnight in Paris” and “Blue Jasmine.” Its third weekend number is slightly below the summer’s biggest specialized success “Love & Friendship” (which was boosted by Memorial Day playtime).  “Café Society” also more than doubled the number for “Captain Fantastic,” which also expanded about the same this week. Based on its performance so far,”Café Society” should easily pass $10 million and depending on how far Lionsgate is able to push it for, producer Amazon might approach as much as $15 million (“Love & Friendship” will end up around $14 million).

“Captain Fantastic” (Bleecker Street) Week 4
$1,009,000 in 550 theaters (+446); Cumulative: $2,400,000
Lagging a bit behind “Café Society,” as they expand to a similar number of theaters, this Pacific Northwest rural family drama is not playing quite as well as its impressive start suggested. The good news is a 60% increase Saturday from Sunday (a better improvement than Woody Allen’s film). But in the fast pace of summer play time and showing at numerous top locations, this will need to hold in well to sustain a long run.

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (The Orchard) Week 6
$350,170 in 174 theaters (-26); Cumulative: $2,924,000
The other backcountry saga (this one in New Zealand) is coming down to earth after some decent weeks and looks to top out somewhere between $4-5 million. That will be ahead of some of the bigger name earlier films, but also shows the lower ceiling these days compared to previous years.

“The Innocents” (Music Box) Week 5
$69,500 in 50 theaters (-11); Cumulative: $741,125
Anne Fontaine’s film set in post-war Poland continues to perform better than more art house subtitled films this year, with the likelihood still of hitting $1 million. That’s increasingly rare, and makes the performance here more than respectable.

“Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions) Week 12
$60,550 in 52 theaters (-36); Cumulative: $13,805,000
Nearing the end of its very successful almost three month run, the latest Jane Austen adaptation shows the ongoing appeal of her stories.

Also noted:
“The Music of Strangers” (The Orchard) – $36,275 in 50 theaters; Cumulative: $1,000,000
“Our Kind of Traitor” (Roadside Attractions) – $22,900 in 33 theaters; Cumulative: $3,087,000
“Weiner” (IFC) – $20,000 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $1,615,000; also available on Video on Demand
“Life, Animated” (The Orchard) – $15,683 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $163,002

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