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‘The Disaster Artist’ Leads Specialty Box Office vs. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Amazingly, seven specialized films did less than 5 percent of the business "The Last Jedi."

Dave Franco James Franco Disaster Artist

Dave Franco and James Franco in “The Disaster Artist”

Courtesy of A24

A24’s “The Disaster Artist” and “Lady Bird” led the pack of specialized successes, again landing in the weekend’s Top 10 chart. Both had to hold off the usual pre-holiday dip as well as the massive draw across all audiences for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

A total of eight recent limited releases expanded this weekend –all their theaters combined add up to about the same number of theaters as “The Last Jedi,”  but it grossed 22 times as much as the $10-million total of those eight films combined.

To a large extent grosses this week are gravy on top of past totals and more importantly a build-up to the most lucrative time of the year for adult moviegoing. That starts in earnest on Christmas Day. More viable titles are competing than most years, and not all will be optimally available. But distributors hope to regain their momentum with the return of the award circuit in January.

The top specialty news this week was the shocking announcement of the imminent end of current operation of Manhattan’s Lincoln Plaza Theater. By far the most important platform theater for foreign language and many other top arthouse fare, its uncertain future bodes badly for the state of the market.

Heading into initial limited release this Friday is 20th Century Fox’s Steven Spielberg valentine to journalism, “The Post.” Also in limited initial runs are Entertainment Studio’s Christian Bale western “Hostiles” and Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” (Sony Pictures Classics) this week. Winding up the year are “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” (Sony Pictures Classics) and the Oscar Foreign Language shortlisted German entry “In the Fade.”

No grosses were reported for Errol Morris’ documentary-fiction hybrid “Wormwood” (released in theaters as a four-hour feature rather than the multi-episode version already available on Netflix) and the one-week qualifying run for “The Leisure Seeker” (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Golden Globe Comedy Actress nominee Helen Mirren.

Opening

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (GKids) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: San Sebastian 15

$5,684 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,442

This Spanish animated film festival veteran is the latest to qualify for 2017 domestic awards with its four theater New York/Los Angeles release. The initial response to this dark story about children struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic dystopia was minimal.

What comes next: This doesn’t look to be one of GKids bigger hits, with future bookings likely tied to a long-shot Oscar nomination.

Available on Video on Demand:

The Ballad of Lefty Brown (A24/South by Southwest 2017) – $6,115 in 2 theaters

International releases:

Youth (China Lion/Toronto 2017) – $260,000 in 30 theaters

I, Tonya

Courtesy of NEON

Week Two

I, Tonya (Neon)

$176,189 in 5 theaters (+1); PTA: $35,238, Cumulative: $553,554

Margot Robbie and Allison Janney’s multiple award nominations boosted a strong second weekend. Being the last of a string of pre-Christmas platform openers set the movie up to more competition, less seat availability in prime theaters, general lower grosses these pre-holiday weeks, and now “The Last Jedi.” So the movie’s continuing strength bodes well for its slow rollout ahead; its wide national break is tied in to certain mid-January Oscar action.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

The Disaster Artist (A24) Week 3

$2,637,000 in 1,010 theaters (+170); Cumulative: $12,932,000

Globe and SAG nominee James Franco’s good film about a bad film continues to show interest. Despite adding more theaters, it fell close to 60 per cent, however. Among the recent platform releases, it likely was most vulnerable to “The Last Jedi” with overlapping younger adult appeal. Still the show business comedy has quickly amassed strong numbers, and with Franco’s anticipated Best Actor Oscar nomination ahead after more holiday business the movie has a lot more gross ahead.

Lady Bird (A24) Week 7

$2,108,000 in 947 theaters (-610); Cumulative: $25,978,000

The movie lost a number of theaters, with A24 threading the needle to sustain two films at once as “Disaster” expands. A per theater average of over $2,000 at this point this wide is still strong, and gives them a strong case to continue onward. With strong Oscar support ahead, this has the potential to soar over $40 million, way past A24’s “Moonlight” peak $27 million.

Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. Photo by Kerry Hayes. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

“The Shape of Water”

Kerry Hayes

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 3

$1,738,000 in 158 theaters (+117); Cumulative: $3,621,000

Excellent third weekend results for the calibrated expansion of Guillermo del Toro’s 1960s fantasy sci-fi romance. For this time of year and with multiple alternatives for moviegoers, a per theater average at this number of theaters of over $11,000 is quite credible. This is positioned to expand further over the prime holiday period ahead and prosper beyond, with expected nominations giving it a further boost in mid-January. Before then it expands to over 700 theaters this Friday.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 6

$1,625,000 in 944 theaters (-676 ); Cumulative: $21,374,000

Fox Searchlight has already accumulated a strong total — nearing their best for any release this year other than their more general audience “The Gift,” which it will soon exceed. The Ozark comedy/drama lost a large chunk of theaters this weekend, but should continue at many of the better grossing ones through the holidays. Then with certain nominations ahead expect a January rebound and a chance to reach the level substantially higher than its current total.

Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 4

$850,000 in 84 theaters (+31); Cumulative: $2,341,000

More than respectable results for this older-audience skewing historical drama spotlighting Churchill in 1940 at a moment of crisis. Focus has set this up for awards (most likely Gary Oldman’s Best Actor nod) and elevated results over Christmas, with over 600 new theaters added this Friday.

"Call Me By Your Name"

“Call Me by Your Name”

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$491,933 in 30 theaters (+21); Cumulative: $2,005,000

The careful handling of this high-end acclaimed gay romance, with more evidence this week of its strong awards draw, continued with its still limited expansion in the face of a tricky calendar. Films which include a strong draw for older audiences often delay their wider runs this time of year. Next Friday sees a selection of new city openings, with some further expansion on Jan. 12 with its wider national break the following week right after its expected significant Oscar nomination haul.

Wonder Wheel (Amazon) Week 3  47-379

$472,216 in 536 theaters (+489); Cumulative: $851,469

Woody Allen’s 1950s Coney Island-set drama expanded quickly in the heart of weak playtime and massive competition. The grosses came in at less that $1,000 per theater. That will make it very tough to get sustained runs going into the difficult time of the year to find screen space. Amazon’s first stand-alone theatrical release won’t be Allen’s worst grossing film — even with adjusted numbers “Cassandra’s Dream” and “September” only managed a little over $1 million. But it is a major drop from his recent work, nowhere near the level of “Midnight in Paris” and “Blue Jasmine.” His films have normally prospered in non-prime specialized periods, with the high level of current alternatives among the problems “Wonder Wheel” is facing.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$263,819 in 319 theaters (-401); Cumulative: $5,010,000

The seasonal tie-in isn’t giving much of a boost to this story of Charles Dickens creating “A Christmas Carol.”

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Sony) Week 5

$140,000 in 213 theaters (-1,215); Cumulative: $11,730,000

Popular star Denzel Washington’s surprise Golden Globe and SAG lead actor nominations did little to boost this legal drama, which lost most of its theaters and will likely retain even fewer ahead.

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) Week 12

$79,626 in 82 theaters (-63); Cumulative: $5,970,000

This early September animated release is still in play, with $6 million in sight this week. If it can find screens to hold over Christmas (a tough assignment) this still could soar higher.

The Florida Project (A24) Week 11

$57,552 in 66 theaters (-35); Cumulative: $5,133,000

Late in its run, Sean Baker’s  acclaimed film about transient Orlando kids is still getting some play after a respectable run for a non-star indie project. Upcoming awards attention should enhance the visibility of the title, which will also get early home viewing exposure.

Also noted:

My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise) – $40,000 in 40 theaters; Cumulative: $1,246,000

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) – $20,000 in 56 theaters; Cumulative: $22,178,000

Jane (Abramorama) – $27,686 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $1,377,000

The Breadwinner (GKids) – $13,311 in theaters; Cumulative: $184,080

Faces Places (Cohen) – $11,613 in 9 theaters; Cumulative: $566,116

Tom of Finland (Kino Lorber) – $11,500 in 10 theaters; $288,136

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