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‘The Lost City of Z’ and ‘Norman’ Ride Specialty Box Office Surge

The specialty market is coming back as "Norman," "Chasing Trane" and "A Quiet Passion" all start strong.

The Lost City of Z

“The Lost City of Z”

Aidan Monaghan

The slow specialty box office is picking up. “The Lost City of Z” (Bleecker Street) opened just below the numbers posted last week by “Colossal” (Neon) and “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” (Sony Pictures Classics) also opened to over $20,000. And “Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary” (Abramorama) showed strong initial single-theater results, with Emily Dickinson story “A Quiet Passion” (Music Box) also showing some interest.

After a promising start, “Colossal” expanded quickly, showing strength among wider audiences, along with “Gifted” (Fox Searchlight) and “Their Finest” (STX). And holocaust drama “The Zookeeper’s Wife” (Focus) passed the $10 million mark in only its third weekend.

Festival favorite “Maudie,” a Canadian-Irish coproduction set in a small Nova Scotia town, opened in four Canadian theaters ahead of its June stateside release from Sony Classics Pictures, with a three day total of around $60,000. It stars Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke in a story about a housekeeper with artistic skills.

“Maudie”

Opening

The Lost City of Z (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: New York 2016, Berlin 2017

$112,633 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $28,158

Director James Gray (“We Own the Night,” “The Immigrant”) switched from his usual urban milieu to the Amazon of a century ago for this adventure biofilm that Amazon Studios acquired prior to its New York Film Festival closing night premiere. Bleecker Street opened the drama in four New York/Los Angeles theaters as the top limited opener this weekend. Its PTA comes in about $2,000 less than the impressive “Colossal” last week.

This is about double what “The Immigrant” opened to three years ago, and the best limited opening in Bleecker Street’s two year history (besting “Eye in the Sky” last year, which debuted to $114,000 in five theaters on its way to almost $19 million).

Strong reviews helped, along with setting a period adventure tale in an exotic locale. A younger cast (Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland) could push this wider than the typical older specialized audience these days. Now that they’ve met the initial goal of establishing this in its platform dates, they can push the movie broader.

What comes next: This quickly expands to 500 theaters next Friday.

Norman

“Norman”

Sony Pictures Classics

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto 2016

$103,664 in 5 theaters; PTA: $20,733

In recent years Richard Gere has been taking on more specialized audience films, and has earned some of the best reviews of his career for this Israeli/American coproduction. He portrays a New York man who plays a key role in the rise of an Israeli politician. This marks the first English-language film for Israeli director Joseph Cedar, following foreign-language Oscar nominees “Beaufort” and $2-million grosser “The Footnote” (Sony Pictures Classics).

This is the first new film from SPC in over three months (likely the longest gap in the 25 year existence) and their best initial PTA since “Elle” last November, which only opened in two theaters.

“Norman” had a strong 68 per cent jump on Saturday (much better than the 19 per cent for “Lost City”). Expect the well-reviewed film to get strong national response in upscale and arthouse locations but also in some wider areas. Down the line, this performance could yield Gere his first Oscar nomination, despite the early release date.

What comes next: Chicago and Washington begin the national expansion next Friday.

“Chasing Trane,” directed by John Scheinfeld

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (Abramorama) – Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Toronto 2016

$15,880 in 1 theater; PTA: $15,880

Yet again, a documentary on a legendary musical legend opens in Manhattan and shows unexpected initial strength. The film shows the great saxophonist in in performance. It’s the latest offering from Abramorama which is showing strength with films about the music, art and culture (“The Beatles – Eight Days a Week,” “Mr. Gaga,” “Heart of a Dog” among them). The gross here is about $3,000 ahead of  the Manhattan start for “I Called Him Morgan” (Submarine Deluxe) a few weeks ago.

What comes next: Two Los Angeles theaters start a significant national expansion on Friday.

“A Quiet Passion”

A Quiet Passion (Music Box) – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Berlin, Toronto, New York 2016

$48,000 in 6 theaters; PTA: $8,000

Terence Davies (“The Deep Blue Sea,” “The House of Mirth”) has been an art house regular for close to 30 years. “Mirth” in 2000 at $3 million marks his biggest domestic success. Shot in Europe but set in Massachusetts, this biofilm about Emily Dickinson’s troubled, lonely life stars Cynthia Nixon as the poet. Backed by mostly favorable reviews, Music Box opened it initially in two New York, three Boston and one Toronto theater. New York opened to about $29,000, with their PTA a much better $14,500, not far from the best new films this weekend.

Saturday had an overall 44 per cent jump, a positive initial result. Dickinson of course still resonates with many people, so expect further interest as this expands.

What comes next: Friday sees Los Angeles on board to begin Music Box’s usual placement in all good sized markets.

Tommy’s Honour (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Edinburgh 2016, Palm Springs 2017

$218,920 in 167 theaters; PTA: $1,310

Jason (son of Sean) Connery directed this story about the Scottish father and son who transformed golf into a wider sport a century ago. Aimed at participants in the sport and timed for marketing during the Masters last weekend, this had a national release aimed less at specialty crowds as older suburban audiences. The initial results are mediocre with less than the usual Saturday uptick older audience films usually see.

What comes next: Anything beyond a second week at current theaters looks iffy.

“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea”

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (GKids) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Toronto, New York, AFI 2017

$15,215 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,072

New York, Los Angeles and Toronto opened this inventive American hand-drawn animated film with perhaps the most colorful title of the year. The initial gross isn’t quite up to the reviews so far, but films like this can find a life of their own once they are discovered.

What comes next: The San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Memphis are next up, with a substantial national specialized run planned.

Heal the Living

“Heal the Living”

Heal the Living (Cohen) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2016

$3,176 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,588

Very strong reviews and two decent New York/Los Angeles theaters led to little response for this French film about organ transplants and the drama surrounding their use when a surfer is killed in an accident.

What comes next: The next scheduled date for this slowly expanding film is Coral Gables on April 28.

Finding Oscar (FilmRise) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Telluride 2016

$3,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,000

Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy’s new documentary division backed this expose of human rights abuses in Guatemala. This helped them to get New York’s prime Angelika Theater, but with not much to show for in gross.

What comes next: Los Angeles and Miami opening next Friday.

Glory (Film Movement) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Locarno, Hamptons, Chicago 2016

$2,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $2,500; Cumulative: $4,000

This acclaimed Bulgarian comedy about a train worker who tries to do the right thing after finding a fortune nabbed the best reviews of any film this week and scored a booking at New York’s Film Forum, but it didn’t lead to much traction with audiences.

What comes next: Limited niche bookings at most ahead.

"Gifted"

“Gifted”

Week Two

Gifted (Fox Searchlight)

$3,000,000 in 1,146 theaters (+1,090); PTA: $2,618; Cumulative: $4,370,000

After a run of bad luck, Fox Searchlight found the right release pattern for this middle-American appeal story of a working class uncle fighting to raise his math prodigy niece. Chris Evans and Olivia Spencer add to its draw, and after the 56-theater first week pushed word of mouth, Searchlight smartly broke it to over a thousand theaters on its second week. That made it effectively the “other” new film this weekend  alongside “The Fate of the Furious.”

The gross is about 3/4s of what “Wild” did in its first wider week, which puts it into quite promising territory. And in a week with no other fresh product, it was good enough for #6 overall (the highest for “Wild” during its full $38 million grossing awards run). This is performing similarly to “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” which in its second weekend in 806 theaters grossed $2.8 million.

Your Name (FUNimation)

$(est.) 780,000 in 289 theaters (-22); PTA: $(est.) 2,699; Cumulative: $(est.) $3,200,000

Distributor FUNimation hasn’t provided grosses since last weekend, but this massive world wide animated smash held at around the same number of theaters its second week. It seems to have dropped considerably from its strong initial $1.8 million, despite great reviews and top theater placement.

“Colossal”

Colossal (Neon)

$616,344 in 100 theaters (+96); PTA: $4,723; Cumulative: $616,344

Newly minted Neon got aggressive in its second week of release for its well-received Anne Hathaway sci-fi/horror/romance hybrid with youthful specialized appeal. While these are respectable numbers, they came in lower than similar genre-appeal recent hits like “Ex-Machina” and “It Follows.” Next weekend will tell us more about how wide this might go.

Their Finest (STX)

$360,000 in 52 theaters (+48); PTA: $6,885; Cumulative: $470,000

Also having a respectable (if smaller) second week expansion is Lone Scherfig’s London World War II drama. With fewer theaters, its PTA is higher than “Colossal,” which appeals to a different audience. “Their Finest” is facing competition from other recent wider releases aimed at older folks, which makes its performance more impressive. It’s initial New York/Los Angeles dates significantly had very strong holds.

STX, which normally doesn’t handled limited releases, adds more big city markets this week.

Truman (FilmRise)

$(est.) 27,000 in 9 theaters (+6); PTA: $(est.) 3,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 53,000

Finding a home for his beloved dog is the focus of this Madrid man as he faces death with the help of a long time Canadian friend who visits him. This expanded to other cities this week with continued modest results.

Graduation (IFC)

$19,530 in 7 theaters (+5); PTA: $2,790; Cumulative: $37,384

A small expansion for this strongly reviewed Romanian father/daughter drama yielded typically minor results similar to most subtitled films these days.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”

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

The Zookeeper’s Wife (Focus) Week 3

$2,065,000 in 1,057 theaters (+251); Cumulative: $10,668,000

Director Niki Caro and Jessica Chastain have tasted some real success in this Holocaust rescue film set in Poland and set the standard for other recent broader potential releases. This has already outgrossed their recent awards contenders “Loving” and “Nocturnal Animals.”

T2 Trainspotting (Sony) Week 5

$230,000 in 331 theaters (+174); Cumulative: $1,975,000

Danny Boyle and gang 19 years later did not resonate the way they did the first time around, with minor results. Sony expanded this rapidly, which didn’t give it much chance to grow like similar films (its first weekend PTA was ahead of the decent openers the last two weeks). It will face a short run ahead.

Frantz (Music Box) Week 5   82/484

$120,000 in 98 theaters (+16);  Cumulative: $554,385

Francois Ozon’s latest, a post-World War I drama, continues to expand and hold well as Music Box once again maximizes a subtitled release in a tough market.

La La Land (Lionsgate) Week 19; also available on Video on Demand

$100,000 in 219 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $150,881,000

Still adding gross despite being watchable at home. The film has grossed $440 million worldwide — impressive, and only $90 million less than “The Fate of the Furious” on its first weekend (which cost several hundred million more for production and marketing).

“Kedi”

Kedi (Oscilloscope) Week 10

$90,000 in 85 theaters (-20); Cumulative: $2,362,000

Into their third month, those Turkish cats just won’t stop playing, with a gross far beyond what most documentaries achieve.

Lion (Weinstein) Week 21; also available on Video on Demand

$81,000 in 147 theaters (-56); Cumulative: $51,820,000

Now available for home viewing after five months, this will end up grossing about $3 million less domestic than Weinstein’s “The Hateful Eight.”

Personal Shopper (IFC) Week 6

$63,750 in 85 theaters (-56);  Cumulative: $1,185,000

Olivier Assayas’ second collaboration with Kristen Stewart looks like it will come in at about 75 per cent of “Clouds of Sils Maria.”

Also noted:

Raw (Focus) – $21,765 in 31 theaters; Cumulative: $455,349

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