Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Peter Knegt
June 19, 2011 5:00 AM
10 Comments
  • |

Box Office: Docs "Page One" and "Buck" Make Decent Debuts; Searchlight's "Art" Does Not Get By

Gavin Wiesen's "The Art of Getting By."

Three Sundance acquisitions made their way to theaters this weekend, but only two have much to be pleased about.

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times," and Cindy Meehl's "Buck" both posted respectable debuts on a handful of screens. Magnolia's "Page One" debuted on two New York screens - the Angelika and the new Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center - and took in $33,000, averaging $16,500. Sundance Selects' "Buck," meanwhile, opened on four screens and grossed $64,400, which amounted to very similar $16,100 average.

The former works as a fly inside the walls of The New York Times, while the latter takes on a living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman, who was the inspiration for "The Horse Whisperer." "Buck''s grosses are probably more promising considering its higher screen count and the fact that it did not benefit from the buzz that has surrounded "Page One" ever since its Sundance debut. An average in the $20,000+ range seemed reasonable for "Page One" considering its two theaters were in major venues in the city of its subject. Either way, the film will expand to the New York suburbs Friday and then 40 new markets on July 1st. "Buck" will expand "aggressively" and by July 1st will open in the top 50 markets. Both films could find considerable summer legs, though at this point that seems more likely for "Buck."

Not much hope surrounds the third Sundance alum, however. What could be considered the first victim of the excessive buying spree at the festival, Fox Searchlight's "The Art of Getting By" (formerly "Homework") opened on an ambitious 610 screens and bombed. The Freddie Highmore-Emma Roberts starrer grossed $700,000, averaging just $1,148. That suggests "Art" should exit theaters pretty aggressively in the next few weeks.

Also debuting was Screen Media's "Jig," which opened on five screens in NY, LA, Chicago, Boston and Toronto. For the least high profile of debuts, it performed quite well, taking in $65,000 and averaging $13,000 (NY was the highest grosser at $20,000).

Among holdovers, Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris" continued its endlessly impressive run, expanding from 944 to 1,038 screens (the highest count ever for an Allen film) and dropping just 10% in grosses from last weekend, taking in another $5,237,400. That made for a stellar $5,046 average and a new total of $21,799,214 with plenty more to come. indieWIRE profiled the success of the film last week, suggesting it could become Allen's highest grossing film since 1986's "Hannah and Her Sisters."

"The thing important to know," Sony Classics Michael Barker said, "is that part of our strategy to keep it on the screen as long as possible. We feel it's going to play throughout the summer. We think this is a film that has a very long life in theaters."

Last weekend's top debut, Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip," managed a decent second weekend. The film, which follows fictionalized versions of actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they stop at some of the best restaurants and inns in the north of England, expanded from six to 30 theaters and grossed $189,000, averaging $6,300. That amounted to strong new total of $302,000.

After three consecutive weekends of having the top per-theater-average, Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" finally fell under the $10,000+ PTA mark as it expanded from 47 to 114 theaters (in 22 new markets). As a result, the Cannes Palme d'Or winner grossed $1,115,000, averaging a strong $9,781 and taking its cume to $3,851,432. On Friday the film is expanding nationally to over 200 screens, and should hopefully continue to give distributor Fox Searchlight much better news than "The Art of Getting By" did this weekend.

Other holdovers this weekend included Focus Features release of Mike Mills' "Beginners." Expanding from 19 to 44 venues, the romantic drama starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent grossed $354,698. That made for a very respectable $8,061 average and a new 17 day total of $908,874. Focus noted the films impressive 66% increase from Friday to Saturday and that several markets increased significantly more than that from Friday to Saturday (80-100 percent) including: D.C., Denver, San Jose, Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago and in many of the NY and SF expansion houses. Focus will continue to expand the film next weekend, but so far it looks like it has a strong little film on its hands.

Things were not so promising for The Weinstein Company's "Submarine." The British coming-of-age comedy expanded from 17 to 28 theaters in third weekend, taking in $60,007 for a weak average of $2,143. That's a disappointing number for the well-reviewed film, which the Weinsteins picked up out of the Toronto International Film Festival last year. Directed by Richard Ayoade, the film stars newcomer Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a boy on a mission to save his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) from the dissolution of their marriage and to lose his virginity before he turns 16. The film's total now stands at $209,368.

Also in its third frame was another Toronto Film Festival pick-up, Shawn Ku's school shooting drama "Beautiful Boy," which is being released through Anchor Bay Films. The film grossed a dismal $15,000 from 9 screens, averaging just $1,667. Its total now stands at $48,307.

Finally, Sundance Selects label continued to find good news with regard to Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which went from 122 to 119 screens in its eight frame and crossed the $4 million mark in the process. The doc, which is screening in both 2-D and 3-D versions, grossed an estimated $226,100 over the weekend. That amounted to a $1,900 per-theater-average and a new total of $4,126,000. "Dreams" follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. Sundance Selects picked up the film out of the Toronto Film Festival last fall and has now seen it become by far the highest grossing documentary of 2011. It has also surpassed Herzog's "Grizzly Man" to become his highest grossing documentary ever. indieWIRE profiled the success of the film last week.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

indieWIRE tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..

You might also like:

10 Comments

  • anon | June 21, 2011 8:53 AMReply

    Then establish that. Your comment was intentioned to be all-knowing. Re-read it.

  • anon | June 20, 2011 9:30 AMReply

    That's because they were never given a mandate--appropriately--to buy Oscars.
    Moreover the article you reference from 2009 seems to subvert you assertion that "Many people think.." Even if you were to read the comments, you'd see the lions-share come to the defense of SPC. So again, I'd question where you get that many people think they are a terrible distributor.
    If you're going to attempt to analyze an analysis, remember words mean something.

  • mary | June 20, 2011 5:56 AMReply

    I am not saying that Sony Pictures Classics is a bad distributor. In fact, I really love Sony Pictures Classics, but a lot of people seem to misunderstand Sony Pictures Classics. Even Nikki Finke wrote that Sony Pictures Classics was a 'faux indie’ .
    http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/sony-classics-plans-to-step-up-profile

    I think the recent successes of “Incendies” and “Midnight in Paris” proves again that Sony Pictures Classics know how to help different kinds of films to maximize their box office potential without overspending P&A. (In fact, SPC would never spend more than $40 million P&A to release the film like "There Will Be Blood", but that was what Paramount Vantage actually did.)

    I also appreciate Sony Pictures Classics for giving traditional theatrical releases to many films that other studio specialty units would not want to release (including many foreign-language films), and SPC could even made profit on most of those films!

  • anon | June 20, 2011 2:39 AMReply

    Dylan. Look forward to chatting soon. Again we don't compete with you--we vie for your business.

  • dylan | June 20, 2011 2:28 AMReply

    No worries, anon, I have the luxury of the fact that nobody can fire me behind me, and since we generally play nice with everyone I enjoy speaking my mind constantly. SPC may technically be a competitor (though we're tiny in comparison and likely not on their radar), but at the end of the day we're cheering on good films going to theaters, and SPC consistently takes great films and blows them out to a wider audience than most can imagine.

    There's plenty of room at the table for all of us to eat, and we always like seeing what SPC brings to the dinner party- it's usually quite tasty.

  • mary | June 20, 2011 2:23 AMReply

    I'm very sorry if my poor English makes other SPC's fans unhappy.

    StiIl, posting Nikki Finke's article doesn't meant that only Nikki Finke didn't like SPC in 2009. I think some people hate SPC is only because the don't have enough understanding on the US specialty market. (there are many people who really don't have enough understanding on the US specialty market; for example, even USA TODAY and LA Times regarded " The Hurt Locker" as a box office disappointment).
    http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/movieawards/oscars/2010-03-08-oscars08scott_ST_N.htm
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/awards/2010/11/can-toy-story-3-really-win-the-oscar-for-best-picture-yes.html

    By the way, SPC's Tom Bernard responded to some criticizes in here. (it is still a 2009 article, though)
    http://theplaylist.blogspot.com/2009/09/exclusive-playlist-chats-with-sony.html

  • anon | June 19, 2011 8:24 AMReply

    I actually sounded foreign in my praise of SPC, but having done numerous deals with them and seeing how they handle--in couture fashion--films that many other distributors would struggle with, Mary really boggles my mind in terms of that judgment. Staying anon strictly for professional reasons. Sorry Dylan.

  • dylan | June 19, 2011 7:08 AMReply

    And I'll say it non-anonymously- Sony Classics is one of the best in the business at foreign films, and I don't think I've spoken to anyone that disagrees.

  • Anon | June 19, 2011 6:48 AMReply

    In terms of handling foreign films, who thinks SPC is a bad distributor? That has been there chief area of expertise, and, as someone who works in foreigns sales, I can say they are top of our list, always.

  • mary | June 19, 2011 5:52 AMReply

    Fox Searchlight’s “The Art of Getting By” has been receiving many bad reviews since Sundance 2011, but the film’s opening result is still worse than expected…. (at least it is much worse than what tracking indicted). Based on the box office leg of Fox Searchlight’s other similar releases (ie. “Choke”, “Fast Food Nation”), “The Art of Getting By” will be very lucky to gross $1.5 million at domestic box office.
    Bad reviews should not be the most major reason why “The Art of Getting By” flops so bad, since some other critically-panned tweeners like Sony Pictures Classics' "Chloe", Lionsgate's "From Prada to Nada", and even Fox Searchlight's “Choke” could perform better in fewer theaters and less advertising..... It may indicated that Fox Searchlight mismarkets “The Art of Getting By”. In fact, Fox Searchlight has been exclusively marketed this film to youth audience, and it may turns out to be a big mistake.

    However, Fox Searchlight should be able to make profit on their other Sundance acquisitions "Another Earth", "Sound of My Voice" and " Martha Marcy May Marlene".
    (Fox Searchlight acquired “The Art of Getting By” before the film's reviews came out, unlike what they did with those three other Sundance acquisitions.)

    Many people think that Sony Pictures Classics is a terrible distributor.... But “Midnight in Paris” proves again that Sony Pictures Classics can really pull off with the films that have major crossover potential.