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Arthouse Audit: ‘Jackie’ Hits High, ‘Manchester By the Sea’ Continues Strong

Natalie Portman as "Jackie" joins "Manchester by the Sea," "Loving," "Lion," "Nocturnal Animals" and "Moonlight" in the awards season box office derby.

"Jackie"

“Jackie”

Photo by Stephanie Branchu. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

This early December weekend usually launches a few prime awards hopefuls. Fox Searchlight often claims the date for such Oscar contenders as “Wild.”  This year they present Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s first English-language movie “Jackie,” starring Oscar contender Natalie Portman as JFK’s grieving widow Jacqueline Kennedy in the week after her husband’s death.

The fall festival hit scored well, placing it in position to join four other recent breakout specialized films led by “Manchester by the Sea” (Roadside Attractions), “Loving” and “Nocturnal Animals” (Focus Features) and ongoing “Moonlight” (A24), all grossing over $600,000 this weekend and placing just a little below the Top Ten.

Opening

“Jackie” (Fox Searchlight) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York, AFI 2016

$275,000 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $55,000

Pablo Larraín’s second of three 2016 releases (along with “The Club” and upcoming “Neruda”) performed strongly in its initial New York/Los Angeles dates. Its gross comes in a bit higher than “Manchester by the Sea” two weeks ago with one extra theater, while its per theater average comes in just a tad lower. In other words: just where this retelling of Kennedy’s horrifying experience late in 1963 was expected to be. With Portman getting elevated attention and the film’s acclaim, this is easily Fox Searchlight’s best start in a disappointing year. This bests last fall’s “Brooklyn” in achieving their best initial two city opening numbers since “Birdman” in 2014.

What comes next: New cities will open over the next three weeks, with 40 0r more in play by Christmas.

Isabelle Huppert in "Things to Come"

Isabelle Huppert in “Things to Come”

“Things to Come” (IFC)  – Metacritic: 87; Festivals include: Berlin, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2016

$33,090 in 3 theaters; PTA: $11,030

Isabelle Huppert is riding high, landing Best Actress from the New York Film Critics for her role in “Elle” (Sony Pictures Classics) as well as new opener “Things to Come.” The former is her more likely Oscar contender, but it doesn’t hurt to have a boost from another strong performance. Here she plays a middle-aged philosophy professor coming to terms with the breakup of her marriage and declining career prospects. Its three-theater New York/Los Angeles opening had a modest initial result despite terrific reviews, not unlike many of the year’s better-received French films.

What comes next: This is positioned for prime Christmas dates in major cities ahead some of the other powerhouse entries going more limited initially. Five more cities open this week.

“Believe” (Freestyle)

$602,519 in 639 theaters; PTA: $943

Freestyle did a terrific job of getting a national run with nearly all appropriate middle American locations for this story about suggested threats to Christmas (Kirk Cameron covered this territory two years back with “Saving Christmas”). The play date was wide open and the subject topical, but it doesn’t look like an impressive result.

What comes next: Over and out likely before the main event.

Lion Sunny Pawar

Sunny Pawar plays young Saroo Brierley in “Lion”

COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Week Two

“Lion” (Weinstein)

$120,234 in 7 theaters (+3); PTA: $17,176; Cumulative: $279,382

In hopes of catching some voting group members in suburban Los Angeles, Weinstein added a handful of runs to this Dev Patel-starrer set in Australia and India. With word of mouth looking to be good — the movie dropped only 3 per cent — these are reasonable numbers so far post-holiday in advance of its national big city expansion this week.

Miss Sloane - Jessica Chastain

“Miss Sloane”

EuropaCorp

“Miss Sloane” (EuropaCorp)

$44,000 in 4 theaters (+1); PTA: $11,000; Cumulative: $123,036

John Madden’s political drama with Jessica Chastain as a powerful lobbyist dipped only 26 per cent, showing her star power. This added only one theater in advance of its wider national release next week.

“Seasons” (Music Box)

$17,560 in 20 theaters (no change); PTA: $878; Cumulative: $58,697

The new nature documentary from the director of “Winged Migration” continued to minor response.

"Manchester By The Sea"

“Manchester By the Sea”

Ongoing/expanding

“Manchester by the Sea” (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$2,363,500 in 156 theaters (+103); Cumulative: $4,423,443

Its gross tops all specialized releases this year at this few theaters. This confirms its broader appeal and likely momentum as its awards haul increases. “Moonlight,” opening a little slower, did $1,265,000 in its fourth weekend when it expanded to 176 theaters. In what has been an impressive year, Amazon is showing itself to be a major player with what looks like its biggest success yet.

“Loving” (Focus) Week 5

$997,000 in 446 theaters (+25); Cumulative: $5,592,166

More of a drop than some of the other holdovers after the weekend, but still a respectable total for this 1960s Civil Rights period drama.

“Moonlight” (A24) Week 7

$915,750 in 574  (-44) theaters; Cumulative: $9,896,000

As awards start coming in for Barry Jenkins’ best-reviewed-of-the-year film, the grosses continue to stay healthy. The total is already approaching $10 million without having hit 1,000 theaters and its award surge is still ahead.

Nocturnal Animals

“Nocturnal Animals”

Focus Features

“Nocturnal Animals” (Focus) Week 3

$686,095 in 127 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $2,705,383

A very good hold for a film coming after the holiday weekend. Tom Ford’s sexy thriller seems to have caught on; it’s in position for successful further expansion.

The Eagle Huntress

“The Eagle Huntress”

“The Eagle Huntress” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$213,442 in 81 (+17)  theaters; Cumulative: $1,199,000

Not a bad post-holiday performance for this female empowerment documentary from Kazakhstan, with the theater count still climbing and a lengthy run ahead likely. This has already passed $1 million and has some distance still to go.

Elle

“Elle”

SBS Productions

“Elle” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$93,796 in 32 (-4) theaters; Cumulative: $548,604

Even just after Isabelle Huppert planted her flag front and center in the Oscar Best Actress race with a Gotham best Actress Award and a New York Film Critics win, Paul Verhoeven’s French thriller continues to do modest business. The victory is crucial for its future dates and holding on to those it has so it can pop over the holidays and beyond.

“A Man Called Ove” (Music Box) Week 10

$57,819 in 73 (-19) theaters; Cumulative: $3,141,717

For the second time in three years, Music Box has topped $3 million for a subtitled film. Even more impressive, it’s not French or Spanish in origin. This Swedish film in its tenth week has been a real sleeper as well as a standard with which to compare other heavyweight upcoming subtitled entries.

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