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Arthouse Audit: ”71′ and ‘The Hunting Ground’ Open Best Among Post-Oscar Newbies (TRAILERS)

Arthouse Audit: ''71' and 'The Hunting Ground' Open Best Among Post-Oscar Newbies (TRAILERS)

Après Oscars, le déluge.

After months of focus on a small number of Oscar entries deep into their theatrical runs, for the first time since wide movie releases became the norm in the mid-1970s, all eight of this year’s Oscar Best Picture contenders opened in initial limited release, including two from the first half of the year. So while most of us are happy to forget about awards for a while–at least until Cannes–we can agree that it’s time for some new blood.

And so we have Brit director Yann Demange’s hailed debut “’71,’ which Roadside Attractions may have hoped to get a bigger bump from Jack O’Connell’s starring role in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” (which earned only tech noms), as well as Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s followup to last year’s Oscar nominee “The Invisible War,” Sundance campus rape doc “The Hunting Ground” (Radius/Weinstein) and David Cronenberg’s “The Map to the Stars” (Focus World) among significant new releases.

But perhaps the most significant new release this week isn’t yet in theaters. Susanne Bier’s long-awaited “Serena” (Magnolia), starring two actors, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, whose recent films have grossed over $300 million domestically and each have earned six acting Oscar nominations (Lawrence has one win), debuted on multiple Video on Demand platforms last week in advance of its theatrical release at the end of March.

And the sequel to one of the biggest specialized hits of recent years — “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — is opening not limited but wide in over 1,400 theaters next week. The challenges to top-line specialized theaters continue.


“’71” (Roadside Attractions) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 82;
Festivals include: Berlin, Telluride, Toronto, New York, 2014, Sundance
$60,050 in 4 theaters; PSA: $15,013

The 71 in the title
refers to the year at the height of the Northern Irish troubles, as a
British soldier (Jack O’Connell) gets separated
from his company in Belfast. Opening to strong reviews in top New York/Los
Angeles theaters, this had an encouraging 71% uptick yesterday from
Friday to get to a decent though not spectacular initial weekend PSA.
This is a tense drama from a hot in-demand young director, and
although its story isn’t a guaranteed audience draw, word of mouth and
continued strong reviews could turn this into a steady performer.

What comes next: An expansion to the top 50 markets over upcoming weeks.

“The Hunting Ground” (Radius/Weinstein) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance 2015
$26,378 in 2 theaters; PSA: $13,189

Fresh off of their second consecutive Feature Documentary Oscar win, Radius launched this tough critique of how American universities deal with sexual assault limited this week in New York and Los Angeles after its much-heralded Sundance premiere. Kirby Dick has been down this road before, to some success. This isn’t quite at the level of his MPAA ratings expose “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” ($15.3 PSA its initial weekend in two), but much ahead about his similar assault in the military doc “The Invisible War” ($4,125 PSA in four). “Citizenfour” managed $126,000 in five theaters in its opener, but that was very high end for a serious themed documentary. These are encouraging numbers.

What comes next: This is a non-VOD play for Radius, with a top-end specialized expansion ahead. CNN is slated to show it down the line, but as was the case with “Life Itself,” their version could end up being edited for both content and time.

“Map to the Stars” (Focus World) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$139,000 in 66 theaters; PSA: $2,106

Julianne Moore not only won the Oscar for “Still Alice,” she also won Best Actress at Cannes for her second (and earlier) 2014 film, David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars.” This black comedy/satire on Hollywood is being released mainly as a VOD play, but its theatrical component, backed by significant review coverage above similar releases (with some quite favorable) managed to get a passable response in an above average number of theaters for a day and date parallel release.

What comes next: This likely holds on to many of these bookings, but the main interest will be in home viewing.

“A la mala” (Lionsgate)
$1,440,000 in 384 theaters; PSA: $3,750

Mexican rom-com starring Aislin Derbez, this is the latest Pantelion
Productions venture released by partner Lionsgate in Spanish-speaking
markets cross-country (unnoticed by most English-speaking media, yet
ending up #15 overall for the weekend). The story revolves around an
attractive young woman who is hired to test mens’ fidelity by suspicious
girlfriends, leading of course to her falling in love with one of them.
This is an average opening for these ventures — the gross is a bit
over half of what “Cantiflas” took in at similar theaters last fall. The
Cinemascore was A, the audience 63% female and a surprising 84% over 25.

What comes next: These films tend to gross at least double their opening, so this could end up around $4 million or more.

“Deli Man” (Cohen)
$35,868 in 15 theaters; PSA: $2,391

This food documentary (a popular sub-genre in recent years) opened in 13 Florida theaters as well as one each in Houston and Texas in an unusual initial foray. Considering the lack of national media, these are positive initial numbers.

What comes next: New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco open this Friday.

“The Salvation” (IFC) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Cannes, Chicago, London 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$4,980 in 2 theaters; PSA: $2,490

IFC has been distributing Danish director Kristian Levring’s films in the U.S. since “The King Is Alive” in 2000. This South African-shot Western stars Mads Mikkelsen on a revenge mission and is primarily a VOD play, with virtually no theatrical response in its two New York/Los Angeles dates.

What comes next: Home viewing nearly entirely.

“Eastern Boys” (First Run) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Toronto 2013, Rendezvous With French Cinema, San Francisco, Seattle 2014
$(est.) $5,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $(est.) 5,500

After some significant festival showings going back to Toronto 2013, this French drama combining gay romance (between an older man and an emigre escort) and immigration issues opened exclusively at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center to average results, although encouragingly yesterday more than doubled Friday’s initial number.

What comes next: This looks like it has some limited and calendar potential in most major cities.

Week 2

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$108,980 in 18 theaters (+14); PSA: $6,054; Cumulative: $364,459

The PSA here is about 75% of last weekend’s decent second week showing for current recent success “What We Do in the Shadows.” With “Tales” having subtitles and an older audience, this is a reasonable showing at this point, as long as it can hold up at this level or close. SPC with their Chilean drama “No” last year expanded a bit more slowly, but a rough comparison puts this on a similar trajectory, with that film ending up over $2 million.

“Queen and Country” (BBC International)
$(est.) 23,000 in 9 theaters (+8); PSA: $(est.) $2,566; Cumulative: $(est.) 34,000

John Boorman’s sequel to “Hope and Glory” and Los Angeles and Bay area theaters in its second week for a so-so result at appropriate locations.

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

“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 21; also available on VOD and DVD
$677,249 in 538 theaters (+98); Cumulative: $12,060,000

Though it is now available at home (including DVD rental), this long playing Oscar winner got a post-ceremony boost and has a respectable showing for one more week.

“The Theory of Everything” (Focus) Week 17; also available on VOD and DVD
$649,000 in 611 theaters (+66); Cumulative: $35,050,000

Post Eddie Redmayne’s Best Actor victory, this held on in a considerable number of theaters despite now being available on VOD and DVD retail (rentals come in a few weeks). That accounts for the modest take after the win more than the general disinterest in the Oscars this year. “Dallas Buyers Club” last year grossed the same (while also on VOD) post-Oscars last year in half as many theaters.
“What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison/Paladin) Week 3  
$262,890 in 46 theaters (+30); Cumulative: $537,000

This New Zealand vampire rom-com continues to expand, and expand well. With nearly three times as many theaters this continues with a decent ($5,000+) PSA and looks headed for an unexpected gross considerably over $1 million. 35 new markets come on board this week.

“Mr. Turner” (Sony Picture Classics) Week 12
$210,663 in 114 theaters (-6); Cumulative: $3,334,000

Mike Leigh’s film continues to show interest as it reaches the late stages of its run, looking to near $4 million despite being mostly shunned by top Oscar categories. This has been an impressive performance.

“Leviathan” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10   
$124,809 in 80 theaters (+37); Cumulative: $873,750

This expanded post-Oscars on the chance it won the Foreign Language nod. It didn’t, but this challenging Russian drama should end up considerably over $1 million before it is done.

“Wild” (Fox Searchlight) Week 14
$119,000 in 119 theaters (-39); Cumulative: $37,458,000

This is still ahead of “The Theory of Everything”‘s total despite a lower awards profile due to Reese Witherspoon’s draw (and also about 30% better than director Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Dallas Buyers Club” last year).

“Timbuktu” (Cohen) Week 5   
$93,324 in 51 theaters (-2); Cumulative: $609,440

This actually held up reasonably well post-Oscar loss, dropping less than a quarter from last weekend.

“Gett” (Music Box) Week 3
$76,000 in 16 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $156,118

Five new markets came aboard for this Israeli divorce drama, showing continued interest.

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