Two new indie films -- CBS Films' "What If" and Drafthouse Films' "The Dog" -- reported grosses this weekend, and they weren't really much of a match for the holdover likes of "Boyhood," "A Most Wanted Man" and "Calvary," all of which had strong weekends of expansion. A full report:
Disappointment of the Weekend: "What If"
The Canadian romantic comedy formerly known as "The F Word" came to U.S. theaters this weekend almost a year after it debuted to very warm notices at the Toronto International Film Festival. CBS Films -- which had only released one other 2014 film before "What If" (the disappointing "Afflicted") -- clearly could have used a boost, and one would think the film's reviews and the presence of Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver would have made that happen. Not quite. The film's somewhat ambitious debut in 20 theaters was by no means a disaster, but it wasn't that promising either. It took in $130,000 for a $6,500 per-theater-average, a so-so number. But CBS Films is hopeful that word-of-mouth will come to the rescue, which it very well could for a film with this sort of a appeal (notably films with similar opening screen counts like "The Young Victoria" and "The Jane Austen Book Club" both ended up with strong grosses in the end).
"Based on the CinemaScore and very positive conversation among fans on Twitter we expect great word of mouth as the film continues to expand next weekend," CBS Films' Grey Munford said.
Though until then, the film's status as a hit or a miss remains a "what if."
This Weekend's Debuts: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)
Holdover Winner of the Weekend: "Boyhood"
Expanding from 311 to 507 theaters, the success story of Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" continued to unfold as it took in another $2,089,000, placing it 12th at the overall box office. Its $4,120 average helped it bring its total gross to $10,652,000, which now makes it both the third highest grossing film in IFC Films' history (after "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien," the latter of which it should surpass by next weekend), and the third highest of director Richard Linklater's career (after "The School of Rock" and "The Bad News Bears" -- both of which were studio films that opened north of 2,500 screens).
"The film is holding in well at arthouse and multiplexes as we continue to support the film with television advertising and a social media push," said Mark Boxer, SVP Sales and Distribution at IFC Films.
"Boyhood" was a shot over 12 years, following the evolution of a family (played by Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater) over that period. It represents an investment from IFC Films, a division of AMC Networks, over that same period. The company had recently financed Linklater’s "Waking Life" and "Tape" when Linklater and producer John Sloss approached IFC Films head Jonathan Sehring about financing the "12 year project." He in turn went to his boss, Josh Sapan, head of AMC Networks, who he had worked for almost 30 years, who also was into the idea.
"Boyhood" will expand next weekend into new markets in advance of the Labor Day weekend.
- "Begin Again" hit $14 million in weekend #7, making it the 4th highest grossing indie of 2014 after "Budapest Hotel," "Chef" and "America"
- "Boyhood," as noted, reached $10 million, with more where that came from.
- "A Most Wanted Man" also crossed $10 million after a strong third weekend.
- "Magic in the Moonlight" crossed the $2 million mark in its third weekend.
Magic In The Moonlight (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Holdover Top 12: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)
Weekend Gross: $804,000
Theaters: 170 (up from 63)
Total Gross: $2,438,000
Criticwire Average:Boyhood (IFC Films)
Weekend Gross: $2,089,000
Theaters: 507 (up from 311)
Total Gross: $10,652,000
Criticwire Average: A
9. Le Chef (Cohen Media Group)
Weekend Gross: $10,700
Theaters: 13 (down from 18)
Total Gross: $329,000
Criticwire Average: N/A
10. Begin Again (The Weinstein Company)
Weekend Gross: $185,000
Theaters: 245 (down from 727)
Total Gross: $14,285,000
Criticwire Average: B
Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.