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Arthouse Audit: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ Soars as ‘Kedi’ Continues Strong

Oscar contenders like "I Am Not Your Negro" are dominating the specialty box office, making it tougher for entries like "A United Kingdom."

I Am Not Your Negro

From “I Am Not Your Negro”

COURTESY OF TIFF

A successful Oscar season is wrapping up, as multiple contenders from the specialty world continuing their long runs. Last out of the gate is Documentary Feature contender “I Am Not Your Negro” (Magnolia) which is rapidly expanding far beyond most similar nominees in an era when most documentaries do not play outside their Oscar-qualifying theatrical runs.

Among limited films, the new releases are mainly niche items without high expectations, and will add little in upcoming weeks. However, strong new Los Angeles dates on the second week of cat documentary “Kedi” (Oscilloscope) showed that its big New York opening was no fluke.

Opening

“Everybody Loves Somebody”

Everybody Loves Somebody (Lionsgate) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Palm Springs 2017

$1,000,000 in 333 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,003,000

The second 2017 release from Lionsgate’s Mexico producing partner Pantelion is a rom-com with a rare female director for this commercial general (mostly Latino) audience. Bilingual, it centers on an Los Angeles-based expat who returns home for a wedding with a pretend boyfriend in tow, only to have her ex show up. Its initial numbers come in at the lower end for their efforts (they usually score a minimum of $900,000 when opened at this number of theaters).

What comes next: Unless word of mouth kicks in, a two-three run and $2-3 million domestic total to add to his home returns.

Keep Quiet (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Tribeca 2016

$6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,500

This documentary about an anti-semitic politician who learns of his Jewish heritage scored a key date at New York’s Lincoln Plaza theater. The result was a decent showing at this ideal location.

What comes next: Two Los Angeles theaters come aboard on March 3, with niche bookings likely at other locations based on the subject matter.

You’re Killing Me Susana  (Independent) – Festivals include: Guadalajara, Chicago 2016

$(est.) 12,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,000

Gael Garcia Bernal took a commercial non-festival route with this Mexican release about a young husband who finds his writer wife has unexpectedly found other interests in American academia. Unlike many similar local efforts, its U.S. release didn’t play broadly but found some minor interest in four New York and Los Angeles region theaters.

What comes next: A wider mostly Southwestern expansion starts this Friday.

From Nowhere (Filmrise) – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2016

$(est.) 6,500 in 2 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,250

This immigrant story about three Bronx undocumented high school teens who  face threats to their future opened at two lower profile New York and Los Angeles theaters to decent reviews and some modest sampling.

What comes next: ITunes will have this in late March.

Lovesong (Strand) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Sundance, Hamptons 2016

$(est.) 1,750 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 1,750

The second to last of the 16 Sundance 2016 U.S. dramatic competition films to get a public release (and the eighth to open in theaters with no Video on Demand at its start), So Yong Kim’s fourth feature focuses on an intense period in the friendship of two long time women friends. Despite standard positive reviews for similar Park City films, it opened in one New York location to minimal response despite a New York Times Critics Pick designation.

What comes next: This looks unlikely to have any significant theatrical life ahead.

Also Available on Video on Demand

American Fable (IFC/South by Southwest 2016) – $(est.) 4,000 in 2 theaters

Xx (Magnolia) – (Magnolia/Sundance 2017) – $(est.) 6,000 in 6 theaters

In Dubious Battle (Momentum/Venice, Toronto 2016) – $(est.) 3,200 in 10 theaters

International Releases

My Exes and Whys (ABS/India) – $(est.) 480,000 in 68 theaters

Ghazi (Indin/India) – $(est.) 390,000 in 94 theaters

Fabricated City (CJ/South Korea) – $(est.) 20,000 in 2 theaters

Week Two

“Pearl”

2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Magnolia)

$600,000 in 248 theaters (+32); PTA: $2,419; Cumulative: $1,640,000

This reliable compendium of the entries in the three short film categories again shows public interest in its second weekend. Its numbers show an improvement over the second weekend of the similar program last year ($427,000 in 170 theaters).

A United Kingdom (Fox Searchlight)

$270,000 in 45 theaters (+41); PTA: $6,000; Cumulative: $360,142

Here’s a strong example of the decline in specialized fortunes in a short time. Anna Asante’s last period drama “Belle” also earned mildly favorable reviews for its historical story about racial tensions at high levels of English life. Both were released by Fox Searchlight, but this one is doing about half as well in its second weekend in exactly the same number of theaters. And this recounting of a true story set in a British African colony when a local king marries a white Englishwoman has the benefit of two name actors (David Oyelowo and “Gone Girl” Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike).

The plethora of Oscar contenders still in theaters may be a factor as well as the draw of “I Am Not Your Negro,” but there is always competition. This is head to head comparison shows what a struggle it is for distributors even with strong support to replicate past successes (“Belle” managed to get to nearly $11 million in late spring 2014).

Kedi (Oscilloscope)

$78,500 in 7 theaters (+6); PTA: $11,214; Cumulative: $142,149

The exclusive New York date last weekend wasn’t a fluke. This documentary about Istanbul street cats expanded to several Los Angeles theaters with a continued strong result, including initial suburban theaters. Cat lovers extend beyond art houses, so as this adds dates (four new theaters this Friday, 50 markets total the following week) this could turn out to be the sleeper success of the early year and beyond.

Land of Mine (Sony Pictures Classics)

$15,392 in 5 theaters (+2); PTA: $3,078; Cumulative: $45,233

Two theaters were added to the second week of the Danish Oscar nominee, which is struggling to gain traction in its initial dates. The key Lincoln Plaza Theater in Manhattan (playing two other SPC films) had only three shows, the last at 6 p.m., likely reducing its gross.

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

I Am Not Your Negro (Magnolia) Week 3

$975,000 in 250 theaters (+135); Cumulative: $3,209,000

An excellent continued performance for this Oscar-nominated documentary about writer James Baldwin. This is a singular achievement for Magnolia and director Raoul Peck irrespective of the results next Sunday. The films is playing at broadly commercial as well as art-house locations, with a particular reach to African-American neighborhoods. The results are uneven, but the PTA is impressive overall and the totals are high.

Manchester By the Sea (Roadside Attractions) Week 14

$641,843 in 568 theaters (+114); Cumulative: $45,480,000

With AMC Theaters’ annual Best Picture marathon boosting the theater count, Kenneth Lonergan’s contender adds to its total, an addition $11 million-plus since the nominations.

Moonlight (A24) Week 18

$628,913 in 455 theaters (+104); Cumulative: $21,388,000

An uptick in theaters here as well led to an increase in this eight-nominations Oscar entry. Barry Jenkins’ film has amassed a third of its total so far since the nominations, all extra revenue that would otherwise not have occurred.

The Salesman (Cohen) Week 4

$239,415 in 85 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $1,051,000

The Foreign Language Oscar favorite (never an easy category to pick) is playing ahead of most subtitled art house entries these days, but considerably below director Asghar Farhadi’s previous winner “The Separation.” In fewer theaters at this point (after a longer playing time), “A Separation” had already reached $2 million and scored $309,000 for Presidents Day weekend in 54 theaters. Still, with the collapse in grosses for similar films since then this remains a respectable showing.

Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$217,876 in 102 theaters (+53); Cumulative: $938,585

A major expansion ahead of the Oscars to benefit from its Foreign Language nomination, this German comedy continues its modest run. It remains ahead of most of other recent attempts at reaching this audience.

Paterson (Bleecker Street) Week 8

$148,189 in 64 theaters (-6); Cumulative: $1,522,000

Jim Jarmusch’s latest quiet study of a quirky character continues its modest but steady response in limited theaters.

Jackie (20th Century Fox) Week 12

$147,000 in 149 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $13,497,000

Getting in some final business heading into the awards, Natalie Portman’s nomination is the main reason for the continued play.

20th Century Women (A24) Week 8

$134,500 in 115 theaters (-12); Cumulative: $5,328,000

Mike Mills’ California coast 1970s revisit continues to add late run gross, holding longer than many other films that hoped to score acting nominations.

Elle (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 15

$67,723 in 43 theaters (-14); Cumulative: $2,128,000

Paul Verhoeven’s French thriller has doubled its gross since Isabelle Huppert received her Best Actress nomination.

The Red Turtle (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$65,793 in 36 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $434,948

More Oscar parallel business as this Belgian Best Animated Feature contender remains in the early stages of its run with modest results.

Julieta (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$56,522 in 31  theaters (-32) Cumulative: $1,269,000

Not part of the Oscar circus anymore, Pedro Almodovar’s latest is wrapping up its run lower than his other recent releases.

Also noted

Neruda (The Orchard) Week 10 – $45,979 in 43 theaters; Cumulative: $673,631

The Eagle Huntress (Sony Pictures Classics) Week  16 – $22, 656 in 28 theaters; Cumulative: $3,026,000

Chapter and Verse (Paladin) Week 3 – $10,928 in 1 theater; Cumulative: $68,795

Mr. Gaga (Abramorama) Week 3 – $8,438 in 3 theaters; Cumulative: $96,456

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