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Oscar Features and Shorts Boost Weekend Specialty Box Office

Every year audiences flock to see the nominated Oscar shorts package in theaters.


The bulk of specialized business continues to come from the usual Oscar contenders that have dominated the scene for months now. The annual package of Oscar nominated shorts proved the strongest new opener this weekend.

Among limited releases, an exclusive showing of last year’s Sundance entry “Golden Exits” (Vertical) leads the field. It remains to be seen what happens to the business when these run out of steam before long in most cases.

As a reminder that winning an Oscar does not guarantee audience good will for future openers, Indian/American anti-corporate musical “Basmati Blues” (Shout! Factory) starring Brie Larson (“Room”) managed only around $8,000 in 10 theaters.

After making a big Super Bowl splash with the unexpected dropping of “The Cloverfield Paradox” after the game, Netflix opened three movies this weekend, but only one (Sundance documentary debut “Seeing Allred”) in theaters. Last year’s Toronto premiere “The Ritual” and romantic comedy “When We First Met” skipped theaters and went straight to streaming.

The week at least six other titles debuted on streaming (including “Basmati Blues”) as several of this year’s top Oscar contenders are already available via those venues, with others soon to come.


2018 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia)

$615,000 in 180 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,417

The Oscar shorts package’s per theater average is almost identical to last year (with slightly fewer theaters) for this annual assemblage of shorts from the three Oscar categories (shown in most theaters as separate admissions) once again finding interest and heading for a likely $2.5 million or better total.

What comes next: This will continue in many theaters through the Oscars (it often sees a rush the days before) with streaming announced for February 27.

Golden Exits Emily Browning

“Golden Exits”

Golden Exits (Vertical) Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin 2017

$12,210 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,210

The Sundance 2017 U.S. Dramatic section film about a newcomer joining a Brooklyn community found a decent debut at New York’s Lower East Side Metrograph Theater. With strong local appeal, this effort from Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Philip”) delivered a credible initial showing which should boost its future dates. This was acquired by Sony for worldwide release, with Vertical handling the U.S. theatrical dates.

What comes next: Seven more cities open this Friday with more in the following weeks.

The Peacemaker (Central Square) – Festivals include: Fullframe, Hot Docs

$4,400 in 1 theater; PTA: $4,400

This documentary about a charismatic Boston-based Irish freelance diplomat with decades of international experience opened in Manhattan as a New York Times Critics’ Pick. It showed a respectable gross for its low profile.

What comes next: Individual dates in theaters in the Northeast before opening in Los Angeles next month.

La Boda de Valentina (Lionsgate)

$1,125,000 in 331 theaters; PTA: $3,399

Lionsgate’s Mexican partner Pantelion provided this bilingual romantic comedy. It had a same-day release in both the U.S. and Mexico, with both countries figuring in the plot about a Mexican politician’s daughter with a New York boyfriend caught up in election intrigue. The gross came in a little lower than “A la mala,” the one previous day and date binational release from Pantelion.

What comes next: With Valentine’s Day coming, expect a small boost and a possible $3 million U.S. total.

Also available on Video on Demand:

Bomb City (Gravitas Ventures/Dallas 2017 – $31,444 in 17 theaters

Permission (Good Deed/Tribeca 2017) – $(est.) 10,500 in 13 theaters

The Female Brain (IFC/Los Angeles 2017) – $ 7,006 in 2 theaters

International releases:

Pad Man (Sony/India) – $760,000 in 152 theaters

“The Post”

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Week Two

A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics)

$121,623 in 20 theaters (+15); PTA: $6,081; Cumulative: $232,962

The expansion to top cities for the Chilean Oscar contender is the top result among SPC’s awards contenders since “Wild Tales” three years ago (which includes “Toni Erdmann,” “Elle,” “Land of Mine,” and “Son of Saul”). In a wide open Foreign Language Film race, that should give it a boost.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

The Post (20th Century Fox) Week 8

$3,050,000 in 1,865 theaters (-597); Cumulative: $72,836,000

Spielberg’s latest now has equaled the gross of his “Bridge of Spies” three years ago, with $80 million or better looking like its ultimate domestic take.

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 11

$3,000,000 in 1,780 theaters (-561); Cumulative: $49,765,000

Dropping back from its unusually high theater count, but still in the Top Ten (fourth time during its run, #9 this weekend) and doing all it needs to do to justify its position as Oscar frontrunner.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 13

$2,200,000 in 1,273 theaters (-453); Cumulative: $45,344,000

This dropped by only 27 per cent (as low-grossing theaters fell away) the weekend before this becomes available for home viewing (theatrical dates will continue). One of the reasons this continues to stay in strong contention for multiple Oscars is its sustained success for three months.

4106_D023_00001_R_CROPLily James stars as Elizabeth Layton and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright's DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release.Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

“Darkest Hour”

Jack English

 Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 12; also available on Video on Demand

$1,590,000 in 1,045 theaters (-441); Cumulative: $51,470,000

This became available for home viewing this week, but theatrical play is still in force with another chunk of gross added to what so far has been the top performer among specialized nominees (though “The Shape of Water” is nipping at its heels and should ultimately do better). This has been a major, sustained success for Focus, and the timing of its release and maximized gross have played a key role in positioning Gary Oldman as the likely Oscar winner.

I, Tonya (Neon) Week 10

$1.553,000 in 1,088 theaters (-362); Cumulative: $25,230,000

This double acting nominee (and likely Supporting Actress winner) is the best performer among the non-Best Picture contenders. It dropped more than half this weekend, but looks set to top $30 million. That will be more than quadruple Neon’s previous biggest success.

Phantom Thread (Focus) Week 7

$1,190,000 in 558 theaters (-628); Cumulative: $16,388,000

A majority of the theaters dropped out for Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest. The remaining ones kept a per theater result a little under last weekend. This looks to end up around $20 million, better than either “The Master” or “Inherent Vice.”

“Lady Bird”


Lady Bird (A24) Week 15

$934,650 in 651 theaters (-458); Cumulative: $45,238,000

Greta Gerwig’s break out comedy actually saw its per-theater performance increase as it lost theaters. It becomes available for home viewing this week. That will reduce its upcoming gross-maximizing returns got A24 in the lead-up to the Oscars. In the meantime “Lady Bird” will end up grossing more than $50 million, far more than the company’s previous biggest hits, “Ex Machina” ($25 million) and Oscar-winner “Moonlight” ($27 million).

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12

$683,460 in 475 theaters (-106); Cumulative: $13,946,000

The core remaining theaters aren’t providing a robust per screen average, but the numbers should be enough to propel this to around $18 million ultimately. It’s not a big number among top nominees this year, but about where SPC’s best recent success Best Actress-winning “Still Alice” reached three years ago.

The Insult (Cohen) Week 5

$109,508 in 50 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $454,995

The Lebanese entry in this category is performing well enough to sustain its runs through the awards and become one of the few recent specialized titles to top $1 million.

Film Stars Die in Liverpool (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$58,365 in 39 theaters (+5); Cumulative: $394,099

Quite weak results in still limited theaters for this Annette Bening-starrer that has never gained traction despite a major push from SPC.

Also noted:

The Florida Project (A24)  – $31,025 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $5,792,000 (also available on Video on Demand)

The Disaster Artist (A24)  – $26,200 in 11 theaters; Cumulative: $21,062,000

Faces Places (Cohen)  – $21,575 in 13 theaters; Cumulative: $810,548

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