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Arthouse Audit: Documentary Dominates New Films, ‘Boyhood’ Tops $20 Million

Arthouse Audit: Documentary Dominates New Films, 'Boyhood' Tops $20 Million

The big news continues to be the strength of several long-term crossover successes, led by “Boyhood,” which now has passed $20 million and shows no signs of letting up. Six films took in over $300,000 in total this weekend–with combined grosses significantly higher than the last two post-Labor Day weekends.

With Toronto underway and most major new limited releases scheduled for later, this traditionally is not a strong weekend for openers. This week’s batch includes a variety of releases in different release patterns, with the acclaimed documentary “Last Days in Vietnam” the standout among limited films.

Among the openers that didn’t report numbers were other Sundance 2014 films “God Help the Girl,” “Kelly and Cal” and “Wetlands” and also “Frontera.” All but “Wetlands” also are showing on Video on Demand.

“Last Days in Vietnam” (American Experience/PBS) – Criticwire: A; Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Sundance, Los Angeles 2014
$30,450 in 2 theaters; PSA: $15,125

Rory Kennedy (“Ethel,” “The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”) has made a name for herself in documentaries in recent years, but this Sundance competition entry looks like it could be her breakout theatrically. Playing in two strong New York theaters and aided by a strong New York Times review, this came through with one of the best doc opening grosses of the year.

What comes next: The initial expansion is planned for Sept. 19, with other top markets to follow. This gross should assure it gets elevated attention. The PBS showing is not scheduled until next April.

“But Always” (China Lion) – Metacritic: 19
$140,000 in 19 theaters; PSA: $7,368

Typical China Lion limited release day and date with its opening at home does the usual OK business at ethnically-friendly complexes in several U.S. markets. This one involves two childhood friends from Beijing who encounter each other years later in New York under much different circumstances. The initial gross is in the range of some of their better openers, which typically end up with between $300-400,000 totals.

What comes next: Usually China Lion’s films expand only slightly, bringing in their grosses from mainly the original targeted theaters.

“Innocence” (JSC Entertainment) – Metacritic: 27
$267,246 in 490 theaters; PSA: $545

Hilary Brougher’s name might be familiar from her earlier indie films “The Sticky Fingers of Time” and “Stephanie Daley.” This young adult horror film seems to have been intended for higher-level festival interest. Instead it received a somewhat limited but still broad national release, hoping to take advantage of a low-competition weekend. It failed to gain any traction however. Its notable mainly for being a film that would seem to have been a likely initial Video on Demand entry, but instead went theatrical only initially.

What comes next: This can’t expect to hold on to most of these next week or expand.

“No No: A Dockumentary” (The Orchard) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 71; Festivals include Sundance, South by Southwest 2014
$20,074 in 10 theaters; PSA: $2,007; also available on Video on Demand

The “Dock” here is Dock Ellis, the Pittsburgh Pirates 1970s star among whose most notable achievements was pitching a no-hitter while tripping on LSD. This is another Sundance pickup from fledgling The Orchard, who also acquired jury winning “Rich Hill.” For a broader multi-city initial start also on VOD, these are OK initial numbers.

What comes next: This is set for 15+ more cities over the next two weeks.

“Memphis” (Kino Lorber) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Karlovy Vary 2013, Sundance 2014
$4,000 in 1 theater; PSA: $4,000

A strong New York Times review didn’t help launch this drama about a Southern blue/gospel singer which had a great theater (the Angelika) to boost its hope.

What comes next: Kino Lorber has this set to open most other top markets in the next few weeks.

Second week

“Cantinflas” (Lionsgate/Panteleon)
$1,030,000 in 429 theaters (+47); PSA: $2,401; Cumulative: $4,757,000

Down 61% despite a small jump in theaters, the Mexican biofilm isn’t showing the audience response that made “Instructions Not Included” a sleeper hit post-Labor Day last year.

“The Last of Robin Hood” (Samuel Goldwyn)
$130,900 in 77 theaters (+); PSA: $1,700; Cumulative: $174,573

This biofilm about Errol Flynn’s final years expanded quickly after a decent limited opening last weekend to minor results.

“Life of Crime” (Roadside Attractions) also available on Video on Demand
$45,150 in 32 theaters (-5); PSA: $1,411; Cumulative: $202,192

theatrical side for this multi-platformed release of this Jennifer
Aniston caper is showing little life in its limited exposure.

“Starred Up” (Tribeca)
$13,290 in 6 theaters (+4); PSA: $2,215; Cumulative: $34,145; also available on Video on Demand

Continuing to get strong reviews (with additional ones it still is an excellent 82 on Metacritic), this British prison drama is not getting much theatrical sampling, consistent with its minor initial limited numbers last weekend.

“The Congress” (Drafthouse)
$35,000 (estimated) in 35 theaters (+20); PSA: $1,000; also available on Video on Demand

The rollout of this live action/animation hybrid has been unusual – New York (with a major rave review in the Times Friday) only opened in its second week, and it has been on VOD for several weeks already. Maybe the reviews will draw more attention to its home platforms, since these grosses suggest minor interest from ticket buyers.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Boyhood” (IFC) Week 9
$1,410,500 in 775 theaters (+43); Cumulative: $20,718,000

With a minor uptick in theaters and now a non-holiday weekend, Richard Linklater’s acclaimed film fell less than 10% this weekend. That’s incredible, and along with passing the $20 million mark, shows continued signs of crossing over to wider audiences and hints of further appeal that should keep this on screens for many more weeks for considerably more total gross.

“Magic in the Moonlight” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7
$720,499 in 530 theaters (+92); Cumulative: $9,272,000

After losing 349 theaters last weekend, the count rebounded (plenty of room out there at the moment) with the result that this suffered only a minor loss of gross. It still is below other recent Woody Allen films, but now is guaranteed to pass the $10 million mark by some margin.

“A Most Wanted Man” (Roadside Attractions) Week 7
$620,650 in 421 theaters (+88); Cumulative: $15,968,000

Roadside managed to go back up in theaters again after a slide last week, and the result is another nice addition to their already impressive take for this spy thriller.

“Chef” (Open Road) Week 18
$509,469 in 532 theaters (-225); Cumulative: $31,269,000

This is unrelenting. At this point, Open Road may wonder if its October general DVD release date is too early.

“Calvary” (Fox Searchlight) Week 6
$350,000 in 285 theaters (-37); Cumulative: $3,017,000

The total is inching up, with somewhere between $4-5 million still looking likely.

“A Trip to Italy” (IFC) Week 4 – also available on Video on Demand
$349,356 in 84 theaters (+32); Cumulative: $1,174,000

One of the best performing VOD parallel films of the year (likely because of its appeal mainly to older viewers), this added screens again and continues to gross strongly.

“Love Is Strange” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$284,605 in 44 theaters (+17); Cumulative: $840,310

Expanding again, although somewhat more slowly that similar films (the traditional SPC method and again showing their faith in slow-building word of mouth) this is doing OK still. But to note – its PSA is below what “A Trip to Italy” had its third weekend at slightly more theaters and on VOD.

“What If” (CBS) Week 5
$180,000 in 136 theaters (-61); Cumulative: $3,285,000

Credit CBS for at least keeping this going, but this remains a disappointment for them.

“Begin Again” (Weinstein) Week 11
$176,000 in 282 theaters (-53); Cumulative: $15,961,000

This didn’t sustain the impressive numbers from its re-release last week, but it does push its respectable total higher at least.

“Frank” (Magnolia) Week 4 – also available on Video on Demand
$100,000 (estimated) in 58 theaters (+6); Cumulative: $417,000

VOD was added this week, likely having some impact on the gross.

“The One I Love” (Radius/Weinstein) Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$104,610 in 72 theaters (+23); Cumulative: $309,000

This is showing at best minor results as the main platform is VOD.

“Land Ho” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9
$60,420 in 73 theaters (+8); Cumulative: $568,852

SPC keeps squeezing more gross on this initially disappointing Sundance acquisition.

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