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Fall Specialty Box Office Takes Off with Docs ‘20,000 Days,’ ‘Pump’ and ‘Art and Craft’

Fall Specialty Box Office Takes Off with Docs '20,000 Days,' 'Pump' and 'Art and Craft'

The Skeleton Twins” was by far the standout among second weak expanders, with “My Old Lady” just OK and “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” weak.


“Tusk” (A24) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Toronto 2014
$886,144 in 602 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $1,472

Going for a semi-wide release just after its Toronto premiere (similar to what Fox Searchlight did more successfully last week with “The Drop,” although that Top Ten entry saw a big drop this weekend), Kevin Smith’s comedy/horror/walrus film opened weak. To make matters worse, Saturday’s gross dropped nearly 30% from Friday, suggesting a tepid initial audience response.

What comes next: This will do well to hold on to these theaters, with further expansion unlikely, and a total of gross under $2.5 million the most this can expect, which would be ahead of Smith’s previous film, the self-distributed “Red State,” but otherwise at the low end (by some distance) among his films, which usually gross in the $25-40 million range.

20,000 Days on Earth (Drafthouse) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 84;
Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin, New Directors/New Films, San
Francisco, Seattle 2014
$26,873 in 1 theater + special event at second theater; PSA: $13,427

The new formula among strong documentaries: Find a creative figure of some note but not wide fame, debut at Sundance or Toronto and make a splash at a lower Manhattan arthouse like the Film Forum. “20,000 Days on Earth” features alternative music favorite Nick Cave. Drafthouse plugged into his ardent fan base and summer tour with his current band Bad Seeds to elevate interest.

Film Forum itself will gross about $10,000 for the three-day weekend (added to about $3,000 for its Wednesday-Thursday opening); they also partnered with nearby Town Hall for a special one evening event with a Nick Cave concert that added about $17,000 to the take. So this is an impressive theatrical start for the film.

What comes next: This opens in five more cities next Friday, then wider over upcoming weeks. As of now it looks to be playing in venues similar to Film Forum (calendar houses and similar), with no playoff from Landmark Theaters or similar major players. With this gross though this may change.

“Hector & the Search for Happiness” (Relativity) – Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 21; Festivals include: Toronto 2014
$46,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $11,500

Director Peter Chelsom was one of the mainstays at the old Miramax, with “Hear My Song,” “The Mighty” and the remake of “Shall We Dance” among his successes. Here he teamed with Simon Pegg as a therapist who travels to distant places to reinvent himself. Relativity, which acquired the film earlier this year, gave it robust marketing support. But critics first dumped on the film in the UK, which tainted the stateside market as well. The gross for the theaters playing this is nothing special, and looks more problematic with Saturday barely ahead of Friday.

What comes next: This is scheduled for a major expansion this Friday, although its prognosis ahead seems iffy.

The Guest(Picturehouse) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, Toronto 2014
$82,126 in 19 theaters; PSA: $4,321

Adam Winguard’s suspense thriller, featuring “Downton Abbey” star Dan Stevens in American tough guy guise, has been getting attention since its Sundance debut, with revitalized distributor Picturehouse giving it a big push. This multi-city opening is only modest (the PSA is lower because of the greater number of theaters, but is still not impressive). The positive news is that for a youth-oriented film, the Saturday night bump was better than average, suggesting this could benefit from good word of mouth.

What comes next: This will jump to many more markets next week, with a hoped for greater expansion ahead.

“Tracks” (The Weinstein Co.) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto 2013, San Francisco, Seattle 2014
$21,554 in 4 theaters; PSA: $5,389

“Tracks” was the first major acquisition out of last year’s Venice/Telluride/Toronto fest circuit, but TWC chose not to push Mia Wasikowska for the 2014 Oscar race– and something has happened in the year between then and now. TWC also opened the revamped “Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” a year later last week, but it’s a risky move for significant English language buy. (After “Butter” failed to score at Telluride, Weinstein released “Butter” in 2012.) The film had an ideal four-theater New York/Los Angeles placement, but to little avail: the gross is disappointing. Weinstein’s uncertainty about the film is clear from their misguided decision to elevate supporting player Adam Driver to the foreground in their print ad, leaving in the background the movie’s star, who has received rave reviews for her performance as a solo trekker across the Australian desert. Clearly TWC does not have an Oscar push in mind. 

What comes next: These initial results suggest the film will remain fairly limited.

“Keep On Keepin’ On” (Radius/Weinstein) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Tribeca, Seattle, Telluride 2014
$12,195 in 2 theaters; PSA: $6,098

Last summer, Radius rode the musical documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” about professional back up singers to a strong $5 million gross and a Best Documentary Oscar. They have actively pushed that comparison with this doc about veteran jazz trumpeter Clark Terry and a young protege, and this film — which boasted a rare presentation at Telluride following showings at other U.S. film festivals — also comes with similar critical support. (Our story about its Oscar prospects is here.) However, the film’s initial dates (two Los Angeles theaters with substantial advertising) came in weak. The PSA is only about a third of what “20 Feet” achieved in three bicoastal initial theaters, suggesting that it will be difficult to replicate the earlier film’s success.

What comes next: Radius is known for often having a parallel VOD run, but similar to “20 Feet,” they plan to stick to the conventional theatrical first model. So New York opens next.

“The Zero Theorem” (Amplify/Well Go USA) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 50; Festivals include: Venice, San Sebastian, Austin Fantastic Fest 2013; also available on Video on Demand
$82,000 in 63 theaters; PSA: $1,302

Christolph Waltz stars in Terry Gilliam’s latest fantasy film, outre even by his usual standards. The VOD component limited the prime theaters available, which yielded a minor take but with attention that will aid its VOD run.

What comes next: A modest further expansion next week.

“Pump” (Submarine Deluxe) – Metacritic: 50
$42,200 in 3 theaters; PSA: $14,067

The directors of the environment-related docs “Fuel” and “The Big Fish” combined with the distributor of “Chasing Ice” to launch what is initially a very good start in New York and Los Angeles. “Ice” got to an impressive (for a message doc) $1.3 million, and this looks like it might be off to some similar success.

What comes next: Several more cities open this week, with ITunes getting the exclusive VOD play by early November.

“Art and Craft” (Oscilloscope) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 50; Festivals include: Tribeca, Provincetown 2014
$23,000 in theaters; PSA: $11,500

Another doc dealing with the art world – in this case, a clever creator who redid well-known works and then donated them to unsuspecting museums – showed once again how New York (where this played in two top theaters) will respond to films on the subject. This number should elevate future attention for the film.

What comes next: This opens at Los Angeles’ prime Nuart this Friday.

Second week

“The Skeleton Twins” (Roadside Attractions)
$447,500 in 49 theaters (+34); PSA: $9,132; Cumulative: $950,447

This offbeat comedy/drama genre masher with Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig showed last weekend’s strong opening was no fluke: this scored big in its modest expansion. This could be one of the fall’s top specialized films. It will increase to 75 markets and 375 theaters this week.

“My Old Lady” (Cohen)
$485,988 in 170 theaters (+159); PSA: $2,859; Cumulative: $683,348

Despite a weak opening, adults turned out for this aggressive expansions. This Paris-set drama (with comic overtones) with a cast including Maggie Smith didn’t set the world on fire, but got enough sampling and a decent Saturday night boost to at least give at a chance for some traction and some further attention.

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” (Weinstein)
$169,700 in 136 theaters (+132); PSA: $1,248; Cumulative: $259,590

This is a weak expansion for this reinvented version of originally two-part Jessica Chastain/James McAvoy drama. Even with fewer theaters than “My Old Lady,” this still had less than half the PSA. This looks to have limited hopes going forward. The original two parts will be getting some limited play next month.

“The Green Prince” (Music Box)
$42,636 in 14 theaters (+10); PSA: $3,045; Cumulative: $90,023

OK expansion for this Israeli-set doc about a Palestinian informant’s relationship with his intelligence agent mentor. New York’s Lincoln Plaza is still thriving with the film.

“Bird People” (IFC/Sundance Selects); also available on Video on Demand
$4,100 in 1 theater (no change); PSA: $4,100; Cumulative: $14,200

This French-made midlife crisis film starring Josh Charles came in with a modest at best second weekend gross at New York’s IFC Center, with its main exposure coming on VOD.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

“Boyhood” (IFC) Week 11
$412,050 in 335 theaters (-324); Cumulative: $22,561,000

The theater count fell in half from last week as this breakout success seems to be finally coming down to earth after nearly three months of play.

“The Trip to Italy” (IFC) Week 6; also available on Video on Demand
$300,000 in 200 theaters (+45); Cumulative: $2,154,000

Though theaters face competition from VOD, this has already topped “The Trip” (the earlier Steve Coogan celebrity-based road documentary) with signs that it still has much more gross ahead.

“Love Is Strange” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$231,249 in 112 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $1,585,000

This aging gay couple drama is holding up decently (the gross dropped about 30% with a slight theater uptick) as it continues to play specialized with decent word of mouth, but perhaps less than hoped for crossover appeal.

“Magic in the Moonlight” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9
$154,805 in 203 theaters (-196); Cumulative: $10,198,000

This has topped $10 million, a solid performance but below other recent Woody Allen films.

“A Most Wanted Man” (Roadside Attractions) Week  9
$142,250 in 193 theaters (-204); Cumulative: $16,927,000

Still finding added business as the theater count dwindles, this has been a nice success for Roadside.

“Calvary” (Fox Searchlight) Week 8
$54,000 in 99 theaters (-107); Cumulative: $3,480,000

Just about played out, this never reached the level of multiple break out summer specialized releases, but still managed to outpace most recent tough-minded limited entries.

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