Eight new films entered in the specialty marketplace this weekend, and while there was plenty of good news to come out of it, that was not the case for Jason Reitman’s latest film “Men, Women & Children.” But first…
The good news:
Three films fought it out for the best per-theater-average in the specialty market, with China Lion’s “Breakup Buddies,” The Orchard’s “Harmontown” and Tribeca’s “NAS: Time is Illmatic” all averaging between $11,500 and $12,000. That was cause for celebration for all three, though “Buddies” takes the overall cake. The Chinese import — starring Xu Zheng and Huang Bo — became the biggest opener in China Lion’s history, taking in a very impressive $240,000 from 20 theaters. Its $12,000 average was the highest for any film in release save “Gone Girl.”
In 2 theaters each, “Harmontown” and “NAS” — documentaries about TV producer Dan Harmon and rapper Nas, respectively — took in a very similar $23,500 and $23,150. But there’s more to the story than that.
“Harmontown” was also made available nationwide On Demand, opening in the Top 3 in Documentary and Top 20 among all Comedies on iTunes Movies.
“We’re exceedingly pleased with the performance and reception of ‘Harmontown’ by its core community of fans and the broader audience who have sampled it,” said The Orchard’s SVP of Film & TV, Paul Davidson. “Neil Berkeley and Dan Harmon delivered a terrific film that, while focused on the cult of Harmon, really is a feel good movie for anyone who has ever felt like an outcast, a nerd or just had one of those days.”
Meanwhile, Tribeca Film employed a three-pronged approach to “NAS,” which they released on the 20th anniversary of the seminal hip hop album the film is named after. It opened in New York at the AMC Empire and in Los Angeles at the AMC Burbank on October 1, then had special one night only shows on October 2, and finally got a digital release on October 3. The result was $109,254 since opening on the 1st, and on both Friday and Saturday, the film was #1 on the iTunes documentary chart before settling in to #2 for the weekend, and #9 on the independent chart. Definitely impressive.
The bad news:
After seeing mixed critical and commercial reactions for both “Young Adult” and “Labor Day” (though the former is underrated as far as we’re concerned), Jason Reitman was met with what will likely be his biggest bomb yet. “Men, Women & Children” — a take on sex and romance on the digital age starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner and Rosemarie DeWitt — grossed just $48,000 from 17 theaters, averaging a sad $2,824. It’s extremely unlikely that suggests the film can get anywhere near the $13.4 million that “Labor Day” grossed earlier this year, which was then the lowest total for a Reitman film.
Head over to the next page for a chart of the weekend’s 15 best per-theater-averages.
The Weekend’s Specialty Top 15 (ranked in order of per-theater-average, and only including films that both submitted estimates and initially opened in under 500 theaters):
11. Last Days in Vietnam (American Experience/PBS Films)
Weekend Gross: $49,450
Theaters: 19 (up from 12)
Total Gross: $245,497
Criticwire Average: A
Read more about “Last Days in Vietnam”
13. My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group)
Weekend Gross: $482,000
Theaters: 63 (up from 255)
Total Gross: $2,225,000 (crossed the $2 million mark)
Criticwire Average: B
Read more about “My Old Lady”
14. The Skeleton Twins (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Weekend Gross: $733,660
Theaters: 461 (up from 385)
Total Gross: $3,532,768 (crossed the $3 million mark)
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “The Skeleton Twins”