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Arthouse Audit: LBGT Movies ‘Tangerine’ and ‘Do I Sound Gay?’ Score in Top Theaters

Arthouse Audit: LBGT Movies 'Tangerine' and 'Do I Sound Gay?' Score in Top Theaters

When an enterprising VOD-leaning distributor launches a micro-budget indie film in mid-summer at A-tier theaters and gets real traction, it’s worth celebrating. Sean Baker’s iPhone move “Tangerine” was not a surefire candidate for strong reaction in the current tricky market; these days only films with older appeal and big names tend to open well. “Tangerine” isn’t a breakout for Magnolia yet, but it’s prospects are good. 

“Do I Sound Gay?” (IFC), even though it’s also showing on home platforms, scored in one top theater. This distributor also balances its release patterns for maximum impact.

Among expanders, A24’s “Amy” managed over $2 million in relatively few theaters, with core specialized ones leading the way.

Dwarfing just about everything, outside the normal specialized circuit but still in its significant part of the alternative film world, the expensive Indian film “Baahubali: The Beginning” (Blue Sky) did an estimated $3.1 million in 236 theaters to reach the Top Ten.


“Tangerine” (Magnolia) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle, San Francisco, BAM 2015
$64,255 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $16,064

Magnolia scored four top locations in New York/Los Angeles as well as terrific reviews to land one of the best platform openings this summer. The film generated media attention at Sundance and beyond because the entertaining dramedy was shot–beautifully– entirely on an iPhone with unknowns playing transgender hookers on Christmas Eve in Hollywood. The biggest marketing trick was promising something no one had ever seen before; then the movie had to play. Magnolia got it out there. Even better, “Tangerine” had across the board improved Saturday numbers over its initial day, not always automatic for a younger-audience appeal film. 

What comes next: An initially at least core specialized theater release over the next few weeks.

“Do I Sound Gay?” (IFC)  – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Toronto, DocNYC 14, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Frameline 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$11,128 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,128

This documentary is exactly what it sounds like. The director examines his own and other gay men’s voice patterns and confronts stereotypes, with celebrity guest appearances. It scored a strong result at Greenwich Village’s IFC Center (which is close to Stonewall). It sold out shows on its limited capacity single screen, and was aided by appearances by the director. Its parallel VOD availability did not hurt much in this case. 

What comes next: Along with showing at Outfest in LA this week, the movie opens in that city and elsewhere this Friday and beyond, with this gross likely to improve its niche appeal.

10,000 km (Broad Green)  – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Seattle, AFI 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 15,000 in 7 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,143

After a long run at many U.S. festivals, this Madrid/Los Angeles intimate but long-distance relationship via Skype drama opened in multiple cities parallel to its VOD play. Buttressed by positive reviews, this VOD release played a bit above normal, although these are hardly great grosses. (A reminder of the difficulties faced by subtitled films, although it is widely available elsewhere, the film does not seem to be available on Time Warner Cable’s On Demand slate.)

What comes next: This should be more than a one-week theatrical play, but its future is mainly home viewing.

Boulevard” (Starz) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 40; Festivals include: Tribeca, Frameline 2014, Seattle 2015
$7,054 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,054

Robin Williams’ final release (in which he plays a lonely 60-year-old married man who finally decides to act on his gay side) opened initially at Landmark’s Sunshine Theater in New York, with Williams as the main attraction (reviews veered to the negative overall). It got a modest response, but enough to justify further attention.

What comes next: This adds six top markets on Friday.

“Nowitzky: The Perfect Shot” (Magnolia) –  Festivals include: Dallas 2015; also available on VIdeo on Demand
$22,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $5,500

Talk about release symmetry: Magnolia is owned by Mark Cuban, who also owns the Dallas Mavericks, the main team for the German-born basketball shooting sensation. This buttressed its VOD release with an initial Dallas-only run (including one of his theaters).  The result actually is quite decent, particularly considering its home availability.

What comes next: This could get some more Dallas play, but otherwise it looks like a VOD player.

“What We Did On Our Holiday” (Lionsgate) –  Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Valladolid 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 16,000 in 12 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,333

Lionsgate releases general audience films on VOD regularly these days.  This limited theatrical play for a British-produced vacation comedy is meant to draw attention to draw Rosamund Pike (Oscar-nominated for “Gone Girl”).

What comes next: VOD all the way.

“Strangerland” (Alchemy) – Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 43; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle, Sydney 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 17,000 in 22 theaters; PTA: $773

Another case of a top actress starring in an indie film going mainly VOD. Nicole Kidman stars in Kim Farrant’s Australian story about a dysfunctional family’s difficulties moving to a new town in the outback. This sensual drama premiered in the World Narrative Competition section at Sundance, but despite Kidman’s sultry presence didn’t get enough of a reaction to justify a conventional theatrical release. The limited response has been weak.

What comes next: Once again, VOD is its home.

“Tap World” (Vitagraph) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 55; Festivals include Filmfest DC 2015
$9,600 in 3 theaters; PTA: $3,200

A short doc compiled from clips of tap dancers around the world had got some modest attention in one Manhattan and two D.C. area theaters.

What comes next: Landmark’s Nuart opens on August 7.

“Baahubali: The Beginning” (Blue Sky) 
$3,575,000 in 236 theaters; PTA: 15,148 

This 160-minute epic is the first half the most expensive Indian production ever ($40 million for both). Not a Bollywood film — it is released in both Tamil and Telugu versions — it had a great domestic response with a high PSA to get it to ninth place in only 236 theaters. Internationally, the response in simultaneous releases appears to be strong, and though it got no U.S. mainstream reviews, elsewhere it is being acclaimed as one of the most impressive subcontinent productions ever.

What comes next: This should stay strong at its current theaters, which pretty much cover the interested domestic market.

“Forever Young” (China Lion)
$70,000 in 14 theaters; PTA: $5,000

Based on a hit pop song in China, this fluffy romance involves a young pop star who uses his bandmates to woo a budding ballerina. In liited national releases as it opens worldwide, this got some initial attention.

What comes next: This should get a second week, but not much more attention.

Week 2

“Amy” (A24) 
$1,780,457 in 341 theaters (+335); PTA: $5,131; Cumulative: $2,121,000

Based on its great reviews and continued widespread interest in Amy Winehouse, A24 aggressively expanded this documentary in the second week to respectable results overall. Its core audience remains specialized overall: most of the top grosses come from big city specialized theaters, with Landmark leading the way (in two-day numbers, two of the top three, five of the top 10). But apart from a decent overall total, the most encouraging result is that though nearly all these theaters are new and the movie has youth appeal, Saturday in most locations improved over Friday. That suggests this is getting a very positive response and should be able to sustain a run at most of these and build on this start. The more uneven performance at more general audience theaters though does indicated there are limits to its crossover appeal and much wider expansion makes less sense.

“Cartel Land” (The Orchard)
$101,513 in 20 theaters (+18); PTA: $5,075; Cumulative: $129,049

The big story here is the strong showing of the city exclusive Arclight Hollywood, with Kathryn Bigelow and Josh Brolin’s separate supportive appearances enhancing the gross to likely over $35,000 (about double of the decently performing “Tangerine” there). The other new dates — all single runs in the new cities — are more modest for this gritty, hard-edged drug-world documentary, but nearly all showed Saturday night growth, which is encouraging.

“Jimmy’s Hall” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$40,886 in 11 theaters (+8); PTA: $3,715; Cumulative: $71,149

Ken Loach’s Irish-set period piece added a small number of cities, continuing the modest response it saw in its limited openings.

“Faith of Our Fathers” (PureFlix)
$82,498 in 154 theaters (-190); PTA: $536; Cumulative: $882,403

This faith and patriotic-themed film totally collapsed after its initial modest holiday-timed opening last week.

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

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (Fox Searchlight) Week 5
$665,000 in 570 theaters (-300); Cumulative: $5,546,000

Searchlight lost several hundred of their lower-grossing theaters after this placed ninth last weekend. The PTA, though still low ($1,167), actually didn’t fall much (about 20%), giving some hope that this will sustain some additional weeks in its better locations. Still, it is hard to see this getting to $10 million, which considering high-end expectations after its sensational Sundance premiere is disappointing. This has not achieved the cross-over to younger audiences many thought possible.

“Love & Mercy” (Roadside Attractions)  Week 6
$441,250 in 296 theaters (-144); Cumulative: $11,337,000

It’s late in the run with grosses now declining, but this well-reviewed musical biopic now looks like it will end up ahead of two other recent high profile wider releases, “Far from the Madding Crowd” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” both of which “Love & Mercy” wasn’t expected to best.

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (Bleecker Street)  Week 9
$353,881 in 212 theaters (-28); Cumulative: $6,453,000

This once again had only a small drop as this Blythe Danner/Sam Elliott senior romance continues to impress.

“The Overnight” (The Orchard)  Week 4      
$118,578 in 147 theaters (-160); Cumulative: $931,168

This lost more than half of its theaters in its aggressive expanded run, and the sub-$1,000 PTA isn’t likely to sustain much longer life in most of these.

“Testament of Youth” (Sony Pictures Classics)  Week 6
$182,014 in 91 theaters (+23); Cumulative: $1,183,000

Like a lot of SPC films, this World War I romance is holding somewhat better as it hits top theaters nationally than its initial grosses suggested, in part because while older audiences may not respond quickly, they are loyal moviegoers looking to check out the latest top releases.

“Infinitely Polar Bear” (Sony Pictures Classics)  Week 4
$171,964 in 76 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $607,989

Similar to “Testament,” this SPC release is finding some modest traction as it expands nationally.

“The Wolfpack” (Magnolia)  Week 5; also available on Video on Demand     
$90,971 in 76 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $980,682

The always creative Magnolia, an innovator in VOD years ago, added home viewing this weekend. Going in a fifth weekend is not usual, but they did manage to corral most top theaters initially, maximize then and add to the film’s awareness and importance before heading to other venues.

“Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight)  Week 11
$90,000 in 98 theaters (-7); Cumulative: $12,006,000

Nearing the end of its nearly of its three month run, this Thomas Hardy picture has done about $24 million worldwide so far, about half in the U.S.

“Woman in Gold” (Weinstein) Week 15; also available on Video on Demand and DVD
$(est,) 58,000 in 101 theaters (-30); Cumulative: $(est.) 33,172,000

Helen Mirren’s stolen art drama has now held on to outgross similarly older-audience (and also not strongly reviewed) “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” as the top 2015 art-house and adjacent based release. Getting to $33 million outside an awards-parallel release is rare and impressive.

“A Little Chaos” (Focus) Week 3; also available on Video on Demand    
$(est.) 50,000 in 56 theaters (-31); Cumulative: $(est.) 500,000

Kate Winslet’s presence has propelled this same time VOD release to a stronger and longer theatrical life, even though the results on this side remain modest.

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