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Indie Box Office Preview: Is Zach Braff Any Match For ‘Boyhood’? It’s Unlikely

Indie Box Office Preview: Is Zach Braff Any Match For 'Boyhood'? It's Unlikely

There’s really no question that despite some high profile indie debuts, all specialty box office eyes are on the second weekend of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” After grossing a stunning $615,167 in its first seven days in just five theaters (breaking the house record for a week run at the IFC Center), the film is getting pushed to 34 theaters. There’s no doubt it will be story of the weekend (it has a good shot at grossing $1 million over the three days), but there are definitely some openers of interest, from Michel Gondry’s latest to Mike Cahill and Brit Marling’s follow-up to “Another Earth” to, most notably, Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here.” A year after the film was partly funded thanks to a controversial $3.1 million Kickstarter campaign that drew quite the backlash, and ten years after “Garden State,” can Braff still deliver an indie hit? Especially with “Boyhood” so high on everyone’s to-see lists? Our predictions:

  • Alive Inside (Bond/360)
    Director:  Michael Rossato-Bennett
    Criticwire Average: 4 critics gave it an B average
    Where It’s Screening: Exclusively at the Sunshine in New York City.
    Box Office Expectation: The weekend’s sole documentary debut comes via Michael Rossato-Bennett’s “Alive Inside,” a film about how a breakthrough in music-oriented therapy has transformed the lives of Americans living with dementia. Not the easiest sell given the crowded market, but the film — which debuted at Sundance earlier this year to good reviews — does have the advantage of being the only doc to enter the marketplace. And its sole opening screen can only help it’s “average.” We’d guess it manages $10,000 gross, keeping “Inside” alive as it heads into expansion.
  • I Origins (Fox Searchlight)
    Director: Mike Cahill
    Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi, Cara Seymour
    Criticwire Average: 18 critics gave it a B average
    Where It’s Screening: Arclight Hollywood and The Landmark West in L.A., and the Sunshine and AMC Lincoln Square in New York.
    Box Office Expectation: Fox Searchlight’s clear commitment to the careers of both Mike Cahill and Brit Marling continues this weekend with the release of “I Origins,” their second Cahill release (after “Another Earth”) and fourth film involving Marling (after “Earth,” “Sound of My Voice” and “The East”). Continuing the sci-fi nature of “Another Earth,” this time around the film follows a molecular biologist whose study of the human eye points to evidence with far reaching implications about our scientific and spiritual beliefs. Not exactly the synopsis of a blockbuster, but Cahill and Marling’s followings — and respectable reviews — should help it match the $19,000 “Another Earth” averaged in its first weekend, which also was in four theaters.

  • Mood Indigo (Drafthouse)
    Director: Michel Gondry
    Cast:  Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris, Omar Sy, Gad Elmaleh, Alain Chabat
    Criticwire Average: 14 critics gave it a B average
    Where It’s Screening: The NuArt in L.A. and the Sunshine in NYC.
    Box Office Expectation: Well over a year after it opened in its native France, Michel Gondry’s “Mood Indigo” comes to America via Drafthouse Films and without the kind of buzz one might expect from a director with the kind of following Gondry has. But the fantasy film about a wealthy man who seeks a cure for his lover after she contracts a disease that causes a flower to grow in her lungs certainly has a unique concept. And with decent reviews, good opening venues and interest in both Gondry (who the film’s marketing campaign has definitely been pushing) and star Audrey Tatou, its opening weekend should at least be capable of offer a per-theater average around $10,000. It’s what happens after that will matter as the film is set to hit 20+ more markets by the beginning of August.

  • Wish I Was Here (Focus)
    Director: Zach Braff
    Cast: Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Joey King, Kate Hudson, Ashley Greene, Jim Parsons, Josh Gad
    Criticwire Average: 12 critics gave it a C+ average
    Where It’s Screening: 68 theaters across North America
    Box Office Expectation: Zach Braff clearly has his share of fans. Enough so that he was able to get them to offer $3.1 million on Kickstarter to help him fund his follow up to his hit 2004 directorial debut “Garden State.” But given the backlash of that Kickstarter campaign and the generally negative reviews that eventually met “Here” when it debuted at Sundance, it’s not likely to come close to matching the $26.7 million “Garden State” eventually grossed after opening to a $22,346 average (from 9 theaters) almost exactly 10 years ago. Distributor Focus Features has clearly understood that interest in the film might be somewhat frontloaded, so they’ve smartly decided to open it in 68 theaters as opposed to starting smaller. It’ll be very interesting given competition from “Boyhood” especially how the film does. It’ll need an average of over $7,000 to not immediately seem like a major disappointment, and we’d wager that’s around what’ll manage. Which wouldn’t be a cause for any sort of major celebration, but would be enough to put the film on track to gross at least what Braff’s Kickstarter fans put into it.

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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