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Arthouse Audit: ‘Amy’ Opens Strong on Congested Holiday Weekend

Arthouse Audit: 'Amy' Opens Strong on Congested Holiday Weekend

As expected, “Amy” (A24) dominated the new openings, with the best limited per theater average of any film in almost three months. Unlike two other recent festival-premiered pop-star documentaries (“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” and “What Happened Miss Simone?”) A24 launched “Amy” in theaters only, so its performance was crucial. The holiday calendar distorted the results, with a much bigger response on opening Friday (plus preview shows) than Saturday. “Amy” should boast similar appeal as the music doc expands, giving a badly needed boost to specialized theaters as most other recent openings have not held well.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” went wider this weekend, and continues to struggle to find traction at projected levels. As has been the case recently, films aimed at an older audience are having an easier time.


“Amy” (A24) – Criticwire: A- ; Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Cannes, Sydney, Edinburgh 2015
$222,105 in 6 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $37,018

A24 has managed the best PTA of any limited two-city opening since their own “Ex-Machina” in April (that hit $59,000 in four theaters). This acclaimed Cannes-premiered doc about the late Amy Winehouse opened strong on Thursday night (grosses included in Friday results), with the combined take double Saturday’s. That suggested that the late star’s fans showed up early (and that the younger crowd likely had other social priorities on the holiday). The July 4th weekend makes box-office projections difficult. By comparison, the recent pre-HBO release of “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” with much less fanfare, grossed about $140,000 in three theaters in three cities for a better PTA. The music doc had no further theaters because of its cable priority, and lacked holiday competition, making the two similar.

Even if the front-loaded pattern — like many films that appeal to core fans–continues in upcoming openings, “Amy” is one of the strongest specialized players of the summer. These grosses suggest that the initial intensity will lead to continued success (A24 reports strong response from initial audiences). It’s going to take at another weekend to discern how far this could cross over.

What comes next: This expands quickly this weekend with dates in most big markets this Friday.

“Jimmy’s Hall” (Sony Pictures Classics) Criticwire: B ; Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Cannes 2014, Tribeca, Los Angeles 2015
$21,626 in 3 theaters; PTA: $7,209

Veteran British director Ken Loach has been directing feature films longer than Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese (only Roman Polanski predates him among active filmmakers), with most of his films, particularly in recent decades, reflecting his populist/left wing point of view. “Jimmy’s Hall” premiered in competition at Cannes 2014 to lackluster response (he often debuts is films i Competition, winning a recent Palme d’Or for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”). SPC took this on after IFC handled a string of Loach films, with “Barley” faring by far the best with just under $2 million. “Jimmy’s” will not get anywhere close to that, but give it credit for going up its second day versus the holiday, which is a positive sign.

What comes next: This will get the usual top theater SPC national release, but expect similar modest results at best.

Cartel Land (The Orchard)  Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Sundance, Tribeca, Seattle 2015
$17,161 in 2 theaters; PTA: $8,582

A double prize winner in the U.S. Documentary section at Sundance 2015 (directing and cinematography), The Orchard landed strong theater placement in New York and decent reviews, with the end result a passable gross that in this market (and against the holiday) show some potential. The doc tells parallel stories about two vigilantes groups –one in Arizona, another in central Mexico — taking the fight against the cartels into their own hands. 

What comes next: This expands to 20 markets this Friday.

“A Poem Is a Naked Person” (Janus)  Criticwire: B+ ; Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: South by Southwest, AFI Docs, BAM 2015
$(est.) 6,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $(est.) $3,000; Cumulative: (est). 7,000

After Michael Wadleigh’s “Woodstock” (1970), a golden era of rock docs ranging from Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” to films on The Who, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and many more became the rage. Leon Russell hired then up-and-coming director Les Blank (best known for his later “Burden of Dreams”) to chronicle recording sessions at Russell’s Oklahoma home. After at least one public showing in 1974, due to artistic difference and rights clearance issues, the film fell into limbo. Only now, two year after Blank’s death, is it finally getting public exposure. The five-day figure in Manhattan at one theater showed some core interest.

What comes next: This should get big city limited play ahead.

“Mala Mala” (Strand)  Criticwire: A- ; Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Tribeca 2014
$(est.) 3,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 3,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 7,300

This timely documentary about the Puerto Rican transgender community opened Wednesday in Manhattan, and with limited marketing seems to have found a decent response over its five days so far.

What comes next: Likely to have a mixture of theatrical, festival and other non-theatrical play ahead.

“Jackie and Ryan” (Main Street)  Criticwire: C ; Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Venice 2014, Newport Beach 2015; also available on VIdeo on Demand
$(est.) 2,500 in 10 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 250

Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes costar in this musician-meets-single-mom romance which showed at Venice at its new filmmaker section but otherwise got little other fest attention. The virtually non-existent theatrical gross is typical of many VOD parallel releases that get minimally reviewed even with some star draw. 

What comes next: VOD only.

“Faith of Our Fathers” (Pureflix/IDP) Metacritic: 20
$432,505 in theaters; PTA: $1,257; Cumulative: $621,296

Two sons of Vietnam vets travel to the D.C. Memorial and argue about religion and politics. The latest venture from the producers of the hugely successful “God’s Not Dead” shows once again it’s tough to duplicate that hit’s success. “Faith of Our Fathers” opened on Wednesday and stayed steady since, but its mediocre PTA doesn’t suggest a long life ahead.

What comes next: It’s the heart of summer, making expansion or even guaranteed second week holdovers not automatic.

“Fare Thee Well” (Fathom)
$(est.) 250,000 in 202 theaters; PTA: $1,237

This isn’t a movie, but rather an event at AMC Theaters nationwide showing the Grateful Dead reunion concert from Chicago over three nights. AMC has been a leader at this sort of alternative programming (more often on week nights). The gross is reported here as a sample of its potential, though getting prime screens on summer weekends is more difficult.

What comes next: As a live event, this is it.

“Papanasam” (Prime Media)
$(est.) 210,000 in 80 theaters; PTA: (est.) $2,625

This Tamil region (India) three-hour crime thriller is a remake of a film from another subcontinent region (quite common), and is grossing similar to other domestic day-and-date releases in its domestic results.

What comes next: Looks strong enough to hold a second week at these theaters.

Week 2

“Batkid Begins” (Warner Bros.)
$4,000 in 4 theaters (unchanged); PTA: $1,000; Cumulative: $29,000

Playing at the same theaters as last week, this dropped a steep 80% over the holiday. Several other markets open next Friday.

“Escobar: Paradise Lost” (Radius/Weinstein)  
$(est.) 17,000 in 44 theaters (-61); PTA: (est.) 386; Cumulative: $(est.) 177,000

Both the theater count and the PTA took a big hit in the second week of this one-time higher expectation story of Pablo Ecobar’s encounter with a North American surfer in Colombia.

“A Borrowed Identity” (Strand)   
$(est.) 23,000 in 5 theaters (+4); PTA: $(est.) 4,600; Cumulative: $ (est.) 42,000

As is the case with many Israeli-films, new Los Angeles dates show some core interest in select locations. This cross-cultural story about a Palestinian youth growing up as an Israeli citizen had a better than expected New York opening last week, and looks to play across the country to modest success ahead.

“What Happened, Miss Simone” (Netflix); also available on Netflix
$(est.) 10,000 in 1 theaters (-1); PTA: (est.) 10,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 50,000

The numbers for this jazz portrait are rough estimates for the gross, based on best available sources not connected to Netflix or the theater. One of two initial theaters (it opened in New York and Los Angeles to qualify for awards and get strong review attention) held, as well as the one in Manhattan, with a second screen added there. This is frustrating to other theaters interested in the film. Apparently Netflix has no interest in expanding theatrically and has been unresponsive. In New York Netflix threw in a full page ad in the New York Times Friday, plugging the reviews and online availability as well as a mention of its theater (though oddly not listing showtimes.).

“The Third Man” (Rialto)  (reissue)
$(est.) 40,000 in 9 theaters (+6); (est.) 4,444; Cumulative: $(est.) 81,000

This is becoming one of the best reissues in some time, as Carol Reed’s 1949 classic adds new cities to continued success.

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

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (Fox Seachlight) Week 4
$1,320,000 in 870 theaters (+516);  Cumulative: $4,004,000

More than doubling its theaters for the holiday weekend (most new ones opened on Wednesday), this Sundance sensation continues to under perform. The PTA of $1,517 is not going to sustain many of these bookings in the height of the summer. This managed 9th place overall for the weekend which helps its image a bit. But more relevant is how this compares with similar expansions. Most recently, Searchlight’s “Far from the Madding Crowd,” in its fourth weekend, also a holiday (Memorial Day) took in a much higher $2.3 million in three days. That suggests that “Me and Earl” is going to struggle to hit $10 million — which in a vacuum is a solid specialized number, but much less than the cost of acquiring and marketing this Sundance award-winner.

“Love & Mercy” (Roadside Attraction) Week 5
$725,5000 in 444 theaters (-284);  Cumulative: $10,513,000

The Brian Wilson biopic continues to perform well though it now has passed its widest point. This still has a shot to reach $15 million.

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (Bleecker Street) Week 9
$470,225 in 240 theaters (-50);  Cumulative: $5,817,000

Despite never having played in even half as many theaters as Bleecker Street’s first release “Danny Collins,” this older romance sleeper has already out grossed that film.

“The Overnight” (The Orchard) Week 3   
$361,000 in 307 theaters (+262);  Cumulative: $663,000

With a PTA of just over $1,000, this Sundance high-end acquisition continues to perform below its hoped-for levels. Further expansion or lengthy runs seem unlikely at this kind of gross.

“Infinitely Polar Bear” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$201,629 in 63 theaters (+45);  Cumulative: $363,056

The gross for this growing-up-absurd family drama is doing better than SPC’s “Testament of Youth” in its third weekend at similar theaters, suggesting that this is getting good word of mouth and is also being helped by the lack of compelling new releases for older audiences.

Testament of Youth” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$174,439 in 68 theaters (+4);  Cumulative: $929,227

Another example of the holiday boosting older audiences — this held just about even with last weekend.

“Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight) Week 9
$130,000 in 153 theaters (-103);  Cumulative: $11,850,000

Worldwide so far this has about doubled the domestic take. In a tough market this has been one of the stronger 2015 performers, but still has at best only reached its minimum anticipated response considering how wide it has played (at its widest over 900 theaters).

The Wolfpack (Magnolia) Week 4 
$(est.) 120,000 in 78 theaters (-10);  Cumulative: $(est.) 740,000

This Sundance doc about a group of home-schooled Manhattan film buff brothers fell off a bit this weekend, but looks headed for at least a $1 million take in its national release. Considering that it doesn’t have a creative personality at its center nor the older audience appeal of recent breakout docs, but rather boasts a younger appeal, this is playing at the level of its more limited potential, though strong reviews suggested a possible broader audience.

“Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) Week 14; also available on Video on Demand
$109,000 in 131 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $33,012,00

DVD rentals start this week.

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