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Specialty Box Office: ‘True Story’ and ‘Child 44’ Flop as ‘Ex Machina’ Lures Audiences

Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences

Among new releases, only the exclusive “Felix and Meira” (Oscilloscope) and the Armenia holocaust doc “1915” showed much initial interest. Two movies with mixed reviews went much wider to poor results– Fox Searchlight’s “True Story” and Lionsgate’s “Child 44”– because their distributors skipped limited initial showings to grab what they could from available crossover theaters.

Meanwhile last week’s strong openers continued to pull moviegoers, led by expanding smart genre flick “Ex Machina” (A24). Also holding well were fashion doc “Dior and I” (The Orchard) and show biz drama “Clouds of Sils Maria” (IFC), while Iranian “About Elly” (Cinema Guild) remained strong at its single Manhattan date.

Throw in continued interest in “While You Were Here” and still drawing films well past their peak, and April has turned out to be a very strong month in the specialized world– just in time to encourage buyers heading into the potentially acquisition rich Cannes next month.


“True Story” (Fox Searchlight) – Criticwire: B- ; Metacritic: 50; Festivals include: Sundance 2015
$1,930,000 in 831 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $2,323

Searchlight skipped the limited stage for their second straight release (after “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) but far less successfully. Leads James Franco and especially Jonah Hill, whose four most recent live-action films have grossed over $100 million in under two years couldn’t outdraw tepid reviews for this change-of-pace  journalist drama. The story lacked any major hook to lure either younger or older audiences, and would have fared even worse as a limited film with later expansion. “True Story” marks a minor detour from the company’s recent string of successes, including Oscar contenders “Birdman” and “Wild.” Saturday was up only 14 per cent from Friday, less than half of yesterday’s overall average. The film ended up 11th for the weekend.

What comes next: The gross doesn’t justify further expansion. This looks like a two weekend-and-out playoff at the majority of theaters and a sub-$5 million total. 

“Child 44” (Lionsgate) – Criticwire: D+; Metacritic: 41
$600,000 in 510 theaters; PSA: $1,176

solid cast of seven credible, recognizable actors led by reliables Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman failed to draw many viewers to this post-WW2 Soviet Union serial killer mystery based on a bestseller. Lately Lionsgate has been releasing name-driven films to VOD parallel to their
limited launches, but this time took the theatrical-only route. Its gross
yesterday was barely up two per cent from Friday, sealing
its fate.

What comes next: Apart from whatever Lionsgate is able to salvage for next week, this has already seen its best days.

“Felix and Meira” (Oscilloscope) – – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Toronto, Torino 2014, Portland 2015
$15,018 in 1 theater; PSA: $15,018

Playing exclusively at New York’s prime Lincoln Plaza Theater, and nabbing decent reviews for an unknown director and actors, this Canadian Orthodox Jewish-community tale of illicit love did surprisingly well its opening weekend. The PSA for this single screen is a bit above what the recent Israeli “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” did initially at two theaters, and that film will approach a credible $1 million domestic total.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with this gross likely to assure its playoff at all appropriate venues across the country.

“Tangerines” (Goldwyn) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: San Francisco, Seattle 2014, Palm Springs 2015
$4,600 in 1 theater; PSA: $4,600

Every year there seems to be at least one little-known, less critically acclaimed finalist in the Oscar Foreign Language race. This year, it’s this moving Georgian-set Estonian anti-war fable, which had a modest festival run last year before Golden Globe and Oscar nominations elevated it to higher attention. Even then, no distributors nibbled until late in the day. Goldwyn finally booked the film at New York’s Tiffany Lincoln Plaza. The reviews and audience wariness kept this from benefiting much from its theater placement.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens next Friday, with Goldwyn expecting other big city runs in week ahead.

“1915” (Bloodvine) – Criticwire: C+
$25,760 in 5 theaters; PSA: $5,153

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Turkey (which many people know about from the Kardashians), this documentary opened in five Los Angeles area theaters (the home of much of the Armenian-American community) to fairly impressive numbers.

What comes next: New York opens next Friday, with ITunes availability on Wednesday.

the Reach”
(Roadside Attractions) – Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 33;
Festivals include: Toronto 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 30,000 in 28 theaters; PSA: $(est). 1,071

Known as “The Reach” when it premiered as a Special Presentation at Toronto last September, this Michael Douglas thriller-in-the-wild starrer was acquired by Lionsgate and Roadside and then set as a primarily VOD release. Roadside has enjoyed major success in parallel releases, and managed to get some strong theaters (including the Arclight Hollywood), but this showed no ticket buying interest.

What comes next: Home viewing only.

“OK Kanmani” (PMP)
$(est.) 450,000 in (est.) 69 theaters; PSA: $6,522

One of the biggest Tamil directors in India, Mani Ratman has had films shown at Toronto and other North American 
festivals. This simultaneous international release did decent business in select ethnic-adjacent theaters despite nearly universal lack of notice from mainstream media.

What comes next: It’s playing where it should, so word of mouth will determine how much more can be added.

Week 2

“Ex Machina” (A24)
$814,293 in 39 theaters (+35); PSA: $20,879; Cumulative: $1,142,000

The initial expansion for this A.I. drama is quite strong, about fifty per cent better than A24’s “While We’re Young” in its second weekend at slightly fewer theaters. This looks like a potential breakout/crossover film, justifying its much wider national release this Friday.

“Dior and I” (The Orchard)
$43,884 in 3 theaters (+1); PSA: $14,628; Cumulative: $109,642

Los Angeles’ exclusive opening buttressed the initial strong signs of interest last week in New York for this Paris-set fashion documentary about the legendary house of couture. The Orchard will add 40 theaters in top cities this Friday.

“Clouds of Sils Maria” (IFC)
$173,527 in 27 theaters (+24); PSA: $6,427; Cumulative: $270,423

A more than respectable showing as Olivier Assayas’ Swiss-set show business drama with Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz looks to be gaining traction as a significant art house player in coming weeks. This will be in the top 15 markets by this Friday.

About Elly” (Cinema Guild)     
$(est). 12,000 in 1 theater; PSA: $(est.) 12,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 32,000

An excellent hold at New York’s Film Forum for this earlier Iranian family drama from the director of “A Separation,” showing outstanding audience reaction so far.

“Desert Dancer” (Relativity)
$23,000 in 27 theaters (+4); PSA: $852; Cumulative: $82,079

This Persian dancing drama dropped about half from its initial weak results, showing that Relativity was right to test it limited rather than trying a wide break.

“Lost River” (Warner Bros.); also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 4,500 in 3 theaters (unchanged); PSA $(est.) 4,500:; Cumulative: $(est.) 30,000

Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut is mainly being seen on VOD, but its limited theatrical run dropped 75 per cent from last weekend.

“Black Souls” (Vitagraph)
$(est.) 12,500 in 6 theaters (+4); PSA $2,083:; Cumulative: $(est.) 21,000

This Venice and Toronto premiered Italian crime family drama added some theaters but is continuing to draw at best minor interest.

On going/expanding (Under 1,000 theaters grossing over $50,000)

“While We’re Young” (A24) Week 4   
$1,584,000 in 713 theaters (+467); Cumulative: $4,152,000

decently, placing 12th for the weekend (down from 11th after the totals
came in), and now looking to surpass “The Squid and the Whale” and its
$7.3 million to become Noah Baumbach’s top grosser.

“Danny Collins” (Bleecker Street) Week 5
$848,579 in 648 theaters (-91); Cumulative: $3,853,000

Down from it ninth place showing last weekend, still with a shot at a $5 million gross for Bleecker Street’s first time out.

“It Follows” (Radius/Weinstein) Week 6
$803,000 in 941 theaters (-692); Cumulative: $13,264,000

Winding down after an impressive three Top Ten week, likely hurt this weekend by “Unfriended” and its advance buzz.

“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight) Week 7
$300,000 in 350 theaters (-391); Cumulative: $32,080,000

initially wider release seems to have paid off for this rare specialized sequel. This looks to get to
about 75 per cent of the first “Exotic” despite lackluster reviews and lack of awards boost and should come close to the totals for “Wild” and “The Theory of Everything.”

“Wild Tales” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9   
$117,842 in 81 theaters (-32); Cumulative: $2,379,000

many subtitled films top $2 million these days, but SPC has managed the
feat with this Argentine film. This now has surpassed their Chilean
Oscar nominated “No” last year.

“What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison/Paladin) Week 10 
$93,625 in 87 theaters (-26); Cumulative: $3,097,000

The dark-horse specialized success of the year has passed $3 million.

“The Salt of the Earth” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4    
$81,496 in 40 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $374,411

Playing modestly but consistently as SPC as usual gets maximum exposure for this socially-conscious photography documentary,

“Still Alice” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 14  
$51,662 in 120 theaters (-54); Cumulative: $18,563,000

down, Julianne Moore’s Best Actress winning film will end up around $19
million, most of which came about because of her win.

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