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Arthouse Audit: ‘It Follows’ Expands as ‘Danny Collins’ Leads Openers and Unshelved David O. Russell Film

Arthouse Audit: 'It Follows' Expands as 'Danny Collins' Leads Openers and Unshelved David O. Russell Film

Following strong debuts for “It Follows” and “Going Clear,” new releases this weekend returned to the sub-$15,000 per screen average in limited theaters–which usually does not translate to major long term success. The best of the new crop is “Danny Collins,” the initial release from promising –and well-financed– new distributor Bleecker Street, which is targeting the loyal adult arthouse audience.

“It Follows,” with Radius now committed to a theatrical rather than Video on Demand release, expanded well into ten new markets in advance of its expected wide release this Friday. Meantime, no single initially limited/specialized release grossed more than $500,000 this weekend, the lowest top figure among later-week films in nearly six months.


“Danny Collins” (Bleecker Street) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 55
$73,157 in 5 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $14,631

The most important achievement for Bleecker Street–the new company formed by ex-Focus Features veterans–is that they have shown that they can launch a film in top theaters with a substantial marketing spend. The grosses are decent considering the tepid critical response and the recent lack of theatrical draw in star Al Pacino (whose most significant work in the last decade has been on cable). Pacino’s last film “The Humbling,” despite a Toronto premiere and Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson, went straight to VOD with limited theatrical play.

Clearly “Danny Collins” played well to the target older audience, with a strong 79 % jump yesterday from Friday. The storyline — an aging rocker reassesses his life and reconnects with his estranged son (Bobby Cannavale) after reading a letter John Lennon wrote to him decades earlier — touches multiple bases, and with continued elevated marketing could find greater response as it goes wider. Though the movie launched in the best theaters, it didn’t always get the usual boost from multiple screens, with reports that some prime matinee and evening shows came close to selling out.

What comes next: This expands steadily over the next couple weeks, with its wide break planned for April 10.

“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” (Amplify) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 66; Festivals include Sundance, Berlin, South by Southwest, San Francisco, Seattle, Hamptons 2014
$37,200 in 4 theaters; PSA: $9,300

This offbeat story (a young Japanese woman travels to North Dakota to find the “Fargo” treasure) has been getting top festival exposure for over a year. Its limited initial openings show promise, particularly with an eighty per cent jump yesterday from Friday.

What comes next: Amplify plans to expand this to around 100 theaters over the next two months.

“La Sapienza” (Kino Lorber) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 68; Festivals include Locarno, Toronto, New York 2014
$13,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $13,500

American ex-pat director Eugene Green has been making esoteric, limited audience films out of France for years with little domestic specialized attention. This contemporary drama about a Swiss architect who encounters a midlife crisis as he studies an earlier Italian architect in Rome, then retreats to his Lake Maggiore home, has the disciplined, direct feel of the films of centenarian Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira. This means it’s more critic than audience oriented. But with decent reviews, great placement at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Theater and a creative European milieu that can draw big-city audiences, this had a surprisingly strong opening weekend despite limited marketing and low expectations.

What comes next: This won’t be a wide release, and is most likely to show up in calendar and other limited bookings, but this gross guarantees attention and more dates.

“Lost and Love” (China Lion) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 52
$85,000 in 23 theaters; PSA: $3,542

This worldwide Chinese release, a tearjerker co-starring Andy Lau, has two significant elements: a female director (ever rarer in commercial Chinese films and here) and photography by Mark Lee Ping Ben, cinematographer for most of Hou Hsiou-hsien’s masterpieces as well as “In the Mood for Love.” This ranks as a slightly above average for China Lion, which is releasing a new first run film at appropriate national theaters every six weeks or so.

What comes next: Not big enough to expand much, this likely gets a two-three week run at these theaters nationwide.

“Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police” (Cinema Libre) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 36; Festivals include: New York Docs 2012
$7,000 in 2 theaters; PSA: $3,500

Unlike many musical performance docs, this one didn’t get much interest in its initial New York dates.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens on April 3.

“Jauja” (Cinema Guild) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York, AFI 2014
$(est.) 9,000 in 2 theaters; PSA: $4,500

Argentine director Lisandro Alonso’s acclaimed part-period drama opened in two New York locations to modest results (one had less than a full schedule).

What comes next: Cinema Guild usually gets its high-level releases out to a variety of art houses and non-theatrical venues in large cities across the country,

“Accidental Love” (Millennium) – Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 21; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 4,500 in 10 theaters; PSA: $(est.) 450

David O. Russell has been on fire in the last four-plus years starting with “The Fighter” after a six-year hiatus. During that period he started making “Nailed,” a health care satire written by Al Gore’s daughter Kristin, starring among others Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Biel and Catherine Keener. The project collapsed deep into shooting. Now some eight years later, the footage has been reshaped, retitled and released without Russell’s cooperation. The limited theater dates come weeks after it began its VOD run. Whatever its quality (reviews have been terrible), it does qualify as the oddity of the year. The grosses, needless to say, are atrocious.

What comes next: At best, cult status.

Week 2

“It Follows” (Radius-TWC)
$352,248 in 32 theaters (+28); PSA: $11,008; Cumulative: $576,275

Following confusion after an amazingly strong opening last weekend –as Radius juggled plans vis-a-vis Video on Demand (their usual emphasis), “It Follows” expanded well across the country to a variety of theaters. The initial expectation of early VOD excluded many top-tier theaters (due to exhibitor policies), making an assessment of the second weekend response more tricky.

The raw numbers are quite good, more so with this being marketed so far entirely in print, on-line and social media. They are not, however, as relatively stratospheric in individual theaters as those last weekend at the Arclight Hollywood and New York’s Angelika (both of which had significant dropoffs due in part to local theater additions). It was a mixed bag at theaters that are normally more commercial and wide-release oriented. “It Follows” placed third or fourth in prime theaters in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, even lower in some others (in all cases, these theaters are playing all of the top current releases). The gross overall more than doubled, but the PSA is only a bit better than a quarter of last weekend.

The grosses definitely legitimatize the expansion of the release to an unconfirmed 1,000 or more dates this Friday. But it also seems to reinforce the notion that the shifting from an initial VOD release in its third weekend rather than planning a theatrical run in the first place is not the best way to maximize grosses. But we really can’t gauge this for certain until we see what happens next weekend. Meantime, the result here is about as good as can be expected under difficult circumstances.

“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (HBO)
$(est.) 25,000 in 2 theaters (-1); PSA: $(est.)12,500; Cumulative: $(est.) 110,000

Decent holds for Alex Gibney’s documentary, which continues its very limited theatrical play a week ahead of its debut on HBO.

“Seymour: An Introduction” (IFC)
$59,500 in 17 theaters (+15); PSA: $3,500; Cumulative: $89,500

Ethan Hawke’s portrait of a respected New York pianist and teacher expanded to multiple cities, getting some sampling if not quite at the level of its initial Manhattan dates last weekend.

“Three Hearts” (Cohen)
$38,475 in 17 theaters (+16); PSA: $2,263; Cumulative: $55,637

This top-end cast French relationship drama expanded quickly in its second weekend to mixed results.

“The Wrecking Crew” (Magnolia); also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 85,000 in 31 theaters (+24); PSA: $(est.) 2,742; Cumulative: $(est.) 166,000

Parallel to its VOD exposure, these are decent stand alone numbers for this backup musician documentary.

Ongoing/expanding (under 1,000 theaters, gross over $50,000

“Still Alice” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10
$477,109 in 440 theaters (-300); Cumulative: $17,258,000

Just about played out less than a month after Julianne Moore’s Oscar.

“The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) Week 17
$374,000 in 377 theaters (-188); Cumulative: $90,150,000

Also nearing the end of its run, at just over $90 million TWC’s biggest hit since “The Butler.”

“What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison/Paladin) Week 6   
$309,385 in 134 theaters (+8); Cumulative: $1,817,000

This sleeper vampire comedy success continues to show strength as it approaches $2 million.

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$267,327 in 81 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $1,187,000

The reported gross is about the same as last weekend, showing a decent hold as is slowly expands. SPC should get this up to a respectable (for a subtitled release) $2 million or more.

“’71” (Roadside Attractions) Week 4
$241,057 in 115 theaters (+50); Cumulative: $696,722

A further widening saw continued modest but steady interest in the Northern Ireland military story which continues to expand.

“A la Mala” (Lionsgate) Week 4
$150,000 in 123 theaters (-150); Cumulative: $3,482,000

Pantelion, Lionsgate’s Mexican production partner, has another success as this romantic comedy continues to play nearing a month in release.

“Gett – The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” (Music Box) Week 6    
$122,009 in 62 theaters (+28); Cumulative: $531,214

Even with nearly doubling the theater count, the PSA stayed steady. This indicates strong holds and continued interest in this Israeli divorce drama.

“Birdman” (Fox Searchlight) Week 23; also available on Video on Demand  and DVD/Blu-Ray
$(est.) 80,000 in 92 theaters (-147); Cumulative: $(est.) $42,084,000

Searchlight no longer is sending out estimates for this. The final number is going to end up below all Best Picture winners in modern times other than “The Hurt Locker,” which has played out theatrically before it entered the awards fray.

“Mr. Turner” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 14
$87,089 in 79 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $3,839,000

Like the artist portrayed, his biopic is getting long-term appreciation and respect. It quietly (now in its fourth month, holding longer than most year-end releases) is approaching $4 million.

“Red Army” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9
$78,222 in 84 theaters (+26); Cumulative: $575,000

Here’s a clear case of how commitment from SPC can get maximum play dates for a film that opened with minor initial reaction (it only had a PSA of $6,700 in three New York/Los Angeles theaters). This isn’t a great gross, but far bigger than the first weekend suggested.

“The Deli Man” (Cohen) Week 4    
$70,271 in 38 theaters (+6); Cumulative: $307,455

It’s is niche documentary for certain, but this keeps showing interest and could stick around for a while.

“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 24; also available on Video on Demand and DVD/Blu-Ray
$56,788 in 73 theaters (-47); Cumulative: $13,038,000

Despite almost a month of home video, this has managed to keep going in a handful of theaters.

“Timbuktu” (Cohen) Week 8
$55,637 in 37 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $908,342

Still respectable late in the run and looking likely to top $1 million.

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