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by Peter Knegt
June 6, 2014 11:01 AM
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Indie Box Office Preview: Are 'Child' and 'Case Against 8' As Obvious Hits As We'd Hope?

"Obvious Child"

After a sleepy few weekends at the specialty box office, a quintet of new films aim to shake things up, not least among them a duo of Sundance favorites -- HBO Films' "The Case Against 8" and A24's "Obvious Child" -- that seem like the most, uh, obvious contenders for some big weekend per-theater-averages. Though Mike Myers' directorial debut "Supermensch" is definitely also one to look out for... Here's our predictions:

  • Borgman (Drafthouse)
    Director:  Alex van Warmerdam
    Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam
    Criticwire Average: 18 critics gave it a B average
    Where It's Screening: At the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza in New York.
    Box Office Expectation: This Dutch import about a vagrant who enters the lives of an arrogant upper-class family screened at Cannes last year to strong reviews, eventually being selected as the Netherlands' foreign language Oscar contender (it didn't make it). Now Drafthouse is sending it out it out into US theaters, where expectations are generally low. Though given its two screen debut for opening weekend, an average of over $7,000 would be a nice start.
  • Burt's Buzz (FilmBuff)
    Director: Jody Shapiro
    Criticwire Average: 1 critic gave it a B+
    Where It's Screening: In seven cities as well as digitally.
    Box Office Expectation: Hopes are probably higher on the digital release end for Jody Shapiro's documentary about Burt Shavitz, the man behind the Burt's Bees line of natural products. Picked up out of the Toronto Film Festival by Film Buff, the digital distribution company run by John Sloss, it's theatrical numbers are unlikely to see it average over $4,000, but that might be just fine anyway if it does well enough on VOD/digital platforms.
  • The Case Against 8 (HBO Films)
    Director: Ben Cotner & Ryan White
    Criticwire Average: 7 critics gave it a B- average
    Where It's Screening: Two theaters in New York and Los Angeles, before further expansion and an HBO debut on June 23rd.
    Box Office Expectation: HBO clearly has a lot of faith in "The Case Against 8," Ben Cotner and Ryan White's Sundance alum (where they won best director and critical raves). In addition to giving it a theatrical, Oscar-qualifying run before it debuts on the network, they are pulling out all the promotional stops -- sending the directors on tour with the film. It doesn't hurt that the film -- which looks into the legal battle behind same sex marriage -- is being released in the heart of Pride Month. With that in mind, finding an average north of $13,000 from its three debut theaters would be in line with expectations.
  • Obvious Child (A24)
    Director: Gillian Robespierre
    Cast: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind, Polly Draper
    Criticwire Average: 23 critics gave it a B+ average
    Where It's Screening: New York and LA in three theaters total.
    Box Office Expectation: Another film that everyone was talking about at Sundance hits theaters this weekend, with A24 bringing Gillian Robespierre's "abortion rom com" to three theaters.  Reviews have been exceptional, and that is going to be key in getting people into theaters so buzz for the film -- and Jenny Slate's star-making lead performance -- can help push it further in the coming weeks. But it's hard to tell given Slate is not a known name (yet) how it will do in weekend one. Perhaps averaging around $15,000?
  • The Sacrament (Magnolia)
    Director: Ti West
    Cast:: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz
    Criticwire Average: 8 critics gave it a B average
    Where It's Screening: Two theaters: One in New York (Cinema Village) and one in Toronto (The Carlton). Its been on VOD since May 1st.
    Box Office Expectation: Magnolia only saw $78,396 from the theatrical release of Ti West's last film, "The Innkeepers," and expectations are likely similar for his new thriller "The Sacrament."  West's films (five of which have been released by Magnolia) are kind of the ideal VOD films, where it's been out since early May. So averaging over $3,000 would be within expectations (and even that would double the opening average of "Innkeepers" -- though granted that was on 25 screens).
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (RADiUS-TWC)
    Director: Mike Myers & Beth Aaia
    Criticwire Average: 8 critics gave it a B+ average
    Where It's Screening: New York and LA, with Myers doing Q&As in New York and subject Shep Gordon doing them in LA (which should help).
    Box Office Expectation:  Mike Myers can sell "Shrek" and "Austin Powers," but can he sell a documentary where he's not in front of the camera? His directorial debut looks at legendary Hollywood insider Shep Gordon, who fell into artist management by chance after moving to LA straight out of college, and RADiUS-TWC is giving it a "20 Feet From Stardom"-style release without an initial VOD push. Having Myers and Gordon doing Q&As should help it, too, so it seems reasonable to look for a $10,000 PTA(?).  We'll find out on Sunday, where Indiewire will have full box office results by early afternoon.


Peter Knegt is a regular contributor to Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him
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