In a period when the Top Ten box office is soaring, due to a complex set of factors, among them competition and less appealing titles (except for “Love and Mercy” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams”), the specialized segment is flailing. This weekend’s multiple openings included six Sundance and five Toronto festival entries, many with strong critical and/or marketing support. Of these, only The Orchard’s “Overnight” showed reasons to expand with optimism.
Open Road oddly opted to go wide with “Dope” this weekend– to mixed results–marking a first for a Sundance Dramatic Competition film. This comes after less-than-expected grosses for Fox Searchlight’s prize-winning Park City 2015 sensation “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” This is the biggest indication of disconcerting weakness at the moment.
“The Overnight” (The Orchard) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, Tribeca, San Francisco, Seattle
$61,523 in 3 theaters; PSA (per screen average); $20,507
The top performer (by far) among this week’s new limited releases, and the top opener so far for inventive upstart The Orchard, this Sundance dramatic competitor played to decent results, bolstered by talent appearances by Jason Schwartzman and Adam Scott at some theaters. This LA comedy about two young couples connecting after their toddlers meet, and succeeding unexpected revelations, was a reported $4 million buy at Park City. There is plenty of room at the moment among core specialized theaters and other big city upscale venues to fit in films that show potential, and these grosses should gain The Orchard the kind of entree they need. The film will need to show its ongoing strength to justify the cost, but the distributor has given it its best shot and in a tough market risen above most other June openers. (These estimates include Thursday night preview shows.)
What comes next: This expands quickly to 40 markets this weekend and over 300 theaters the following holiday weekend.
“Infinitely Polar Bear” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 66; Festivals include: Sundance, Toronto 2014, Los Angeles 2015
$47,398 in 5 theaters; PSA; $9,480
Maya Forbes’ tale of growing up in the 70s with an endearing but difficult dad debuted at Sundance in January 2014, with SPC acquiring it shortly after. Star Mark Ruffalo has since nabbed an Oscar nomination for SPC’s “Foxcatcher” and played the Hulk in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but the long delay did not pay off. This mediocre start doesn’t suggest significant grosses ahead.
SPC is going through a dry spell, with this weak opening coming on the heels of “Lambert and Stamp,” “Saint Laurent,” “Aloft” and “Testament of Youth,” which combined so far total under $1 million (only the last is likely to ever reach that mark). Their fortunes should change with three stronger releases later this summer: Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man” and two Sundance 2015 breakouts, “Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “Grandma.”
What comes next: This will play all top markets, but likely to similar mixed results.
“Eden” (Broad Green) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Toronto, New York, AFI 2014, Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2015
$20,313 in 3 theaters; PSA; $6,771
Broad Green made a splash at Toronto last year with presenting “Learning to Drive” (second in the Audience Award polling) and acquisitions including “99 Homes” and this French 1990s-set story set in the world of electronic music. This is their first release, and its initial modest opening take exceeds previous films from director Mia Hansen-Love (“Goodbye First Love” and “Father of My Children”). Most of the company’s upcoming releases will likely have more initial appeal, but for a first time out, they did a credible job in getting key theaters in New York and Los Angeles, significant review and other media attention, not always easy for a newbie.
What comes next: An core art house national expansion starts this Friday.
“The Tribe” (Drafthouse) – Criticwire: A; Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York, AFI 2014, Palm Springs, Sundance 2015
$(est.) 9,000 in 1 theater; PSA; $9,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 13,000
After much festival play and considerable attention, this Ukrainian film about a group of deaf youths involved in a range of risky behavior and told only in unsubtitled sign-language opened at New York’s Film Forum last Wednesday and is showing some signs of decent initial response. Drafthouse keeps taking on challenging but worthy films like this, which showed one of their better initial results. In a tough market, this has a chance to grow and gain further attention as it expands.
What comes next: New cities are opening slowly, but expect to see this start appearing next month in other top markets and beyond.
“Manglehorn” (IFC) – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2014, South by Southwest, Seattle 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$12,900 in 3 theaters; PSA; $4,300
David Gordon Green’s tenth feature (he started with “George Washington” in 2000 and went on to “Pineapple Express”) has now seen three straight parallel VOD releases (last year the acclaimed Nicolas Cage-starrer “Joe”). That makes the modest numbers for this in its New York/Los Angeles initial dates more understandable. Starring Al Pacino as a Texas locksmith, this is more off-beat than that actor’s recent more conventional role in “Danny Collins” (his most successful lead theatrical release role in many years). Roadside took a wider release with “Joe,” 48 theaters and a $2,200 PSA, reduced by the wider number of theaters.
What comes next: Limited expansion among top markets over the next few weeks, but mainly VOD play.
“The Wanted 18” (Kino Lorber) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Toronto 2014
$3,600 in 2 theaters; PSA; $1,800
The 18 in this doc are cows that became part of a tense dispute between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in 1988. The two-theater release got its awards qualification set, but otherwise got little audience response.
What comes next: Select bookings, theatrical and otherwise, in upcoming weeks are planned.
“The Face of an Angel” (Screen Media) – Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 37; Festivals include: Toronto, London 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 10,000 in 13 theaters; PSA; $(est.) 769
Very busy British director Michael Winterbottom’s (“A Mighty Heart,” “The Trip”) most recent effort about media coverage of an Italian murder mystery went to VOD initially, with a minor multi-city theatrical release doing little business.
What comes next: VOD only.
“ABCD 2” (UTV)
$444,000 in 146 theaters; PSA; $3,041
As in “Any Body Can Dance 2,” in this case, Bollywood goes to Vegas, and in 3D no less. This placed #14 overall for the weekend, doing around the average amount of initial business among similar releases.
What comes next: Sticking to mainly these theaters, this will top out over $1 million.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (Fox Searchlight)
$351,678 in 68 theaters (+53);; PSA; $5,172; Cumulative: $645,090
It’s still early, but the second weekend results for this Sundance double prize winner reinforce last week’s indications of less enthusiasm than expected. The release pattern is similar to the usual quick expansion of highly anticipated films, but the grosses are falling far short compared to “Birdman,” “Far from the Madding Crowd,” and “Belle” among others from Searchlight. A telling example: the summer release “The Way Way Back” — which benefited from some star names — in slightly more (79) theaters on its second weekend grossed nearly three times as much ($1,122,000) with far less acclaim. A more recent comparison is the older-targeted “I’ll See You in My Dreams” which in far fewer theaters its second weekend (29) grossed not much less ($291,000).
This is disconcerting, particularly when there is not a lot of specialized competition this weekend. Its performance does repeat the disappointing initial expansion of last year’s big Sundance winner “Whiplash.” That film eventually got to $13 million, but a majority of that was in rerelease after the Oscar nominations.
“The Wolfpack” (Magnolia)
$167,000 in 39 theaters (+37);; PSA; $4,282; Cumulative: $235,460
Magnolia took this acclaimed Sundance doc to most of the largest markets this weekend (in part to play off significant national media attention). The second week result isn’t as stellar as the initial New York/Los Angeles numbers, but still more than 50% better than similar theaters when they released the successful “Iris” earlier this year. This will depend on continued attention and word of mouth ahead, but the film shows promise.
Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)
“Love and Mercy” (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$1,694,868 in 792 theaters (+219); Cumulative: $7,152,000
The gross stayed about the same this weekend with a bump in theaters and a small drop in the PSA. This Brian Wilson biofilm continues to maintain a steady performance that should allow it to maintain a significant presence in its better grossing theaters despite severe competition for screens ahead.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (Bleecker Street) Week 6
$674,000 in 287 theaters (+41); Cumulative: $4,048,000
The PSA dropped only 25%, a very strong hold, as this older couple romance continues to find surprising success.
“Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight) Week 8
$260,000 in 256 theaters (-110); Cumulative: $11,279,000
Late in its run, this Carey Mulligan lead role in this 19th century English classic romance is getting to about the same level of similar recent releases.
“Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) Week 12
$200,000 in 117 theaters (-81); Cumulative: $32,548,000
Weinstein launched Helen Mirren’s Best Actress campaign with significant ad buys on Friday, leading to the gross coming in about the same as last weekend despite a big drop in theaters. You have to admire them — despite their shutout on Tony nods for their own “Finding Neverland,” they took Mirren’s win in an unrelated show as something to use to their own benefit.
“Testament of Youth” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$194,955 in 72 theaters (+56); Cumulative: $421,701
This World War I romance took a big jump in theaters, but continues to do at best modest business. Considering its cast, SPC’s support and strong reviews, it’s a mystery why it hasn’t found a better response.
“Ex-Machina” (A24) Week 11
$113,008 in 124 theaters (-70); Cumulative: $24,993,000
This opened just after the start of spring, yet the film is still showing in over 100 theaters in the summer, with the $25 million mark due any day now.