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Arthouse Audit: Awards Contenders Dominate Specialty Box Office

Arthouse Audit: Awards Contenders Dominate Specialty Box Office

Coming soon are “Still Alice,” “Mommy” and the mid-level opening of “Cake.” 

The major action is concentrated on two films still in limited release: Clint Eastwood’s astoundingly robust “American Sniper” in three cities at levels unprecedented for a third limited weekend, and the decently holding “A Most Violent Year” at a lower level. Both expand this Friday (“Sniper” wide; “Year” opens in a few more big cities). They and several other already successful crossover films will hope to score big when Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday.


“Beloved Sisters” (Music Box) – Criticwire: A-; Criticwire: 71; Festivals include: Berlin, New York, Chicago 2014
$ 25,000 in 8 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $3,125; Cumulative: $27,000

Music Box’s leading Oscar contender “Ida” is the most acclaimed foreign-language film of 2014; German submission “Beloved Sisters,” about poet Friedrich Schiller’s relationship with his wife and her sister, failed to make the list of nine semi-finalists. This release date was pre-planned to take advantage of potential contention, but at this point will likely see only limited play.

What comes next: Music Box is capable of getting this set in further markets nationally, but this will only do a small percentage of “Ida”‘s amazing nearly $4 million total.

“Predestination” (Stage 6) – Criticwire: B-; Criticwire: 68; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est) 42,000 in 18 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 2,333

Seemingly timed to parallel its lead actor Ethan Hawkes’ continued attention from his role in “Boyhood,” this low-budget Australian sci-fi time travel story (which had festival play last year) debuted to modest but better than average results than most VOD releases. It seems to be getting critical attention — a buried Los Angeles Times brief review called it “the first great film of the year,” with the more prominent favorable one in the New York Times also helping elevate its visibility.

What comes next: The theatrical portion won’t rise significantly higher, but this should get plenty of home viewing play ahead.

“Farewell Herr Schwartz” (Kino Lorber) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Los Angeles Israel 2014
$4,500 in 2 theater; PSA: $$2,250

This documentary about a German-Jewish family’s fate during and after the Holocaust opened in two New York venues to modest at best results.

What comes next: The subject will guarantee getting it niche playoff across the country in upcoming weeks.

Week 2

“A Most Violent Year” (A24)      
$120,561 in 4 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $30,140; Cumulative: $457,473

J.C. Chandor’s post-New Year’s weekend opener stayed in just New York and Los Angeles, with a 30% drop not unexpected with the non-holiday this week. This doesn’t look likely to get Oscar nomination traction, but does look well-positioned to be a top fresh specialized entry as it starts expanding to new markets before its wide release on Jan. 30.

Ongoing/expanding (grossing over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

“Inherent Vice” (Warner Bros.) Week 5
$2,900,000 in 645 theaters (+629); Cumulative: $4,480,000

Thomas Anderson’ 1970s Southern California Pynchon adaptation expanded
for the first time to some clear interest (about a $4,500 PSA, just
short of the Top Ten. This seems to have captured the core of the
director’s fans, with the question of crossover and wider interest
(almost certainly without any awards boost) still the be determined.

“The Theory of Everything” (Focus) Week 10
$675,000 in 408 theaters (-243); Cumulative: $25,896,000

This dropped only 39% despite a big loss of theaters. Post-nominations, this looks to get more traction and add to its bounty. This is already only a bit more than $1 million behind the companies two acting Oscar-winner last year “Dallas Buyers Club.”

“Birdman” (Fox Searchlight) Week 13
$590,000 in 228 theaters (-54); Cumulative: $26,338,000

The three-month first stage of Alejandro G. Inarritu’s acclaimed film is done, with post-nomination additional gross likely before the awards. For the record, the total is $13 million under where “12 Years a Slave,” Searchlight’s Best Picture winner last year, was positioned at the same point.

“American Sniper” (Warner Bros.) Week 3
$555,000 in 4 theaters (unchanged); Cumulative: $3,150,000

In its third week, the PSA of $138,629 would be phenomenal for an opening. The drop of only 19% in a post-holiday weekend reinforces the sense that its wider release next weekend likely will dominate the Top Ten list for multiple weeks, and assuming it receives multiple Oscar nominations, could be the biggest concurrent hit during the voting since “Avatar.”

“Foxcatcher” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9    
$530,597 in 237 theaters (-61); Cumulative: $8,740,000

Pre-nominations, this remains SPC’s top grossing contender (although not their top grosser among 2014 releases thus far — Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” at $10.5 million still leads). If the Academy confirms its other recognition so far, this will surpass that number.

“The Interview” (Sony) Week 3; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) $380,000 in 492 theaters (-89); Cumulative: $(est.) $5,732,000

Sony atypically didn’t report an estimate for the weekend, but this estimate should be in the ballpark. It looks like the theatrical haul will reach over $6 million, a pittance compared to the $31 million in VOD through last weekend. That is likely to top $40 million, meaning that Sony will recoup a fair amount of what once seemed like a possible total write off.

“Mr. Turner” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4      24
$242,000 in 39 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $1,290,000

As it expands, Mike Leigh’s latest film is performing at a level a bit ahead of his other recent films. Even if multiple award winner doesn’t make the cut in this year’s very competitive Best Actor race, this still looks to get to at least their $3-3.5 million total.

“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 14      
$152,724 in 69 theaters (-15); Cumulative: $6,154,000

Thursday’s nominations and other awards action will determine whether this finally reaches its initially expected level of some crossover appeal after a decent multi-month run more with specialized audiences,

“Two Days One Night” (IFC) Week 3
$71,400 in 16 theaters (+14); Cumulative: $201,124

The Dardennes Brothers working class drama opened beyond New York this week, with a more modest result than seemed likely when the now longer shot Best Actress contender Marion Cotillard seemed like a better bet. The PSA is a bit ahead of the directors’ previous “The Kid With a Bike” (also IFC) when it expanded to more (24) theaters.

“The Babadook” (IFC) Week 7; also available on Video on Demand
$50,160 in 55 theaters (-4); Cumulative: $822,161

This continues to be an unusually long run and relatively successful VOD-parallel theatrical release, holding in many theaters and looking like it could reach $1 million.

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