Top-ranked studio Universal led the way—by far—among specialized releases this weekend with “Steve Jobs”‘ superb initial New York/Los Angeles debut. This sets a standard that is unlikely to be topped by any upcoming awards contender, because there’s less intense competition for now.
The other strong opener, at a single Los Angeles screen, is the South Korean Oscar entry “The Throne,” which based on reliable sources looks to gross over $20,000 this weekend.
The top grosser among second-week films is “He Named Me Malala” (Fox Searchlight), which fell short of director Davis Guggenheim’s previous attention-grabbing docs.
Several other well-reviewed festival highlights also debuted, many on VOD (and one on Netflix), without gaining significant traction.
The Orchard’s DOC NYC-selected documentary “Cartel Land,” which went theatrical in July to a $700,000 total, has taken in a reported $550,000 in two weeks of VOD release, an upbeat result.
“Steve Jobs” (Universal) Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Telluride, New York 2015
$521,000 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $130,236
The top platform release this year so far, the best since “American Sniper” last December, is significantly ahead of Danny Boyle’s earlier openings for “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours,” way ahead of the recent strong debut of “Sicario,” and triple the PTA of Universal’s most recent limited opener “Lone Survivor” (which went on to $125 million). And it’s the third Steve Jobs related film—all with his name in the title—in just over two years?
This is a phenomenal response, even with the overall numbers reduced by sellouts and capacity issues. It clearly propels the well-reviewed film into the middle of the awards race, but for the moment more importantly, makes it easy for Universal to expand this to top theaters across the country quite soon as a priority over rivals vying for the same screens and also to push the marketing to a level that assumes wide interest. This level of result is more often seen (usually at a little lower total) from Fox Searchlight, Weinstein Co., and Universal’s Focus. But like Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper,” this reminds that a major can do the same. It is yet another feather in the cap in Universal’s incredible year.
What comes next: 60 theaters or so this Friday, much wider the week after that.
$1,335,000 in 375 theaters; PTA: $3,560
Pantelion, Lionsgate’s Spanish language partner usually behind Mexican productions, backed this Dominican Republic co-produced comedy with little attention given outside of its base audience. The result is a decent initial showing that should keep this on screen for a while at key theaters.
What comes next: Not likely to expand a lot, but this is a lower theater count than some previous Pantelion films so far.
“The Throne” (Showbox)
$(est.) 21,000 in 1 theater; PTA: (est.) 21,000
Talk about under the radar. This massive Korean historical drama hit (already nearing $40 million at home since its September release) opened at the CGV Cinema (a leading Korean exhibitor) in Los Angeles in the middle of the Korean-American population with no general audience marketing or reviews or any notice at all. This is a terrific gross (on a single multiplex screen). The film has the added value of being the South Korean Oscar submission.
What comes next: South Korean commercial films usually get a niche national release where the audience lives, so expect to see more from this.
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” (Netflix) Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto 2015
One of the most acclaimed docs of the year, with huge festival play (it won the People’s Choice Doc award at Toronto) debuted on Netflix on Friday. It also opened in New York and Los Angeles for awards qualifying and review attention (as well as an excuse to run big ads in the movie sections pushing the online availability and minor mention of theaters). Netflix does a good job of hiding grosses (they refuse to release any data) so there’s no way of knowing short of showing up at the theater and counting audiences how well it did. Netflix releases “Beasts of No Nation” across the country at select specialized theaters (Landmark the core) next Friday on the same date they they stream on site.
“Victoria” (Adopt) Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Berlin, Los Angeles, Toronto 2015
$(est.) 17,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 5,667
This astounding technical achievement— a complicated thriller set in Berlin shot in one take of 138 minutes— got some excellent (New York) to more mixed (Los Angeles) reviews in its three theater opening to mixed results.
What comes next: Word of mouth could help, but its a tight market at the moment.
“The Forbidden Room” (Kino Lorber) Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 92; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin. Toronto 2015
$4,500 in 1 theaters; PTA: $4,500; Cumulative: $5,795
Canadian Guy Maddin’s first feature in a while opened at Manhattan’s Film Forum to stellar reviews but not commensurate audiece response so far.
What comes next: Most top cities will see openings over the next few weeks.
“Trash” (FocusWorld) Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Rio, Rome 2014; also available on Video on Demand
$10,000 in 17 theaters; PTA: $588
Stephen Daldry’s first four films (“Billy Elliott,” “The Hours,” “The Reader,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”) had the incredible achievement of all receiving Oscar Best Picture and/or Director nominations. His fifth went VOD and limited theater release a year after its festival premiere. To his credit, Daldry went with a riskier project in this partially subtitled story about kids in Rio trying to earn a living through finding treasure or at least resellable goods in rubbish. But this would-be “Slumdog Millionaire” failed to perform in the UK and Brazil. Coming the same weekend as his fellow Brit’s (and Oscar winner) Danny Boyle’s huge “Steve Jobs” is ironic.
What comes next: VOD is its home.
“Big Stone Gap” (Picturehouse) Criticwire: B; Festivals include: Virginia 2015
$(est.) 360,000 in 280 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,286
Mostly a regional release in and around its Appalachian Mountain setting, this bestseller adaptation boasts veteran producer Donna Gigliotti (“Shakespeare in Love”) and stars Ashley Judd and Whoopi Goldberg. It is the first release from Picturehouse after a year of personnel changes. The result is mediocre despite landing a decent number of theaters during a crowded calendar. Despite a significant New York Times ad Friday, the paper did not review it.
What comes next: Doesn’t look like this has substantial credentials to widen.
“Yakuza Apocalypse” (Goldwyn) Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 3,000 in 5 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 600
Japanese cult director Takashi Miike has a following here as well as internationally, making an early home viewing availability logical despite its foreign results after top festival attention. The theater results are minor.
What comes next: VOD continues
“(T)error” (Independent) Criticwire: A-; Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance, Tribeca, Fullframe 2015
$(est.) 4,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 4,000; Cumulative: (est.) 5,500
Premiering as a Sundance US Documentary contender, this look at domestic post-9/11 FBI security measures premiered at New York’s Film Forum to a so-so result.
What comes next: Per their website, their next dates are at three AMC theaters on Friday in Detroit, Houston and Peoria.
“Just Let Go” (Excel)
$(est.) 40,000 in 25 theaters; PTA: $(est,) 1,600
Playing in Utah only, this drama is based on the true story about a man who lost his family in a car accident who tries to find a way to forgive the drunk driver responsible. It got a minimal response.
What comes next: This doesn’t look to have much broader theatrical possibilities.
Also opening and on Video on Demand
“The Final Girls” (Vertical/South by Southwest, Los Angeles, Toronto 15) – $(est.) 30,000 in 23 theaters
“Knock Knock” (Lionsgate/Sundance 2015) – (est.) 18,000 in 21 theaters
International play releases
“Rudrama Devi” (Big Sky/India) – $(est.) 650,000 in 135 theaters
“Goodbye Mr. Loser” (China Lion/China) – $350,000 in 22 theaters
“Jazbaa” (Essel Vision/India) – $(est.) 230,000 in 113 theaters
“He Named Me Malala” (Fox Searchlight)
$685,000 in 446 theaters (+442); PTA: $1,536; Cumulative: $768,448
Fox Searchlight went to a quick second weekend expansion nationally to capitalize on its marketing outreach (including group sales) and initial strong response (an A Cinemascore), but the results are mediocre at best for this doc about the Nobel Peace Prize winning Pakistani girl. Director Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” did almost as much business in its third weekend in fewer than a quarter (103) as many theaters by comparison, while his “Inconvenient Truth” in its second did $1,356,000 in only 77.
$94,000 in 51 theaters (+46); PTA: $1,843; Cumulative: $144,054
Weak second weekend for Ellen Page’s personal project about a gay couple’s legal problems in the pre-marriage equality era.
“Taxi” (Kino Lorber)
$32,000 in 9 theaters (+6); PTA: $3,556; Cumulative: $68,345
Los Angeles and other markets added on as Jafar Panahi’s acclaimed illicit Iranian film (he’s officially banned from directing because of political activities) continues to get niche attention.
“Labyrinth of Lies” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$54,076 in 16 theaters (+13); PTA: $3,380; Cumulative: $93,570
Modest results in top theater big city expansion for this Nazi trials German Oscar submission film.
“This Changes Everything” (Abramorama)
$(est.) 20,000 in 10 theaters (+9); PTA: $2,000 Cumulative: $27,000
After a very strong $17,000 Manhattan exclusive first week, this climate change doc went to other big cities to mixed results.
“Going Away” (Cohen)
$(est.) 5,500 in 1 theater (no change); PTA: $5,500; Cumulative: $(est.) 17,500
The second weekend of Melanie Laurent’s French drama fell only about 30% at New York’s Paris Theater.
“Singh Is Bling” (Eros)
$(est.) 160,000 in 107 theaters (-28); PTA: $(est.) 1,495; Cumulative: $(est.) 796,000
About a 2/3s drop for this Indian comedy in its second weekend.
Ongoing and expanding (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)
“99 Homes” (Broad Green) Week 3
$630,857 in 689 theaters (+670); Cumulative: $808,463
Under $1,000 PTA, despite decent reviews and names in the cast, this recession story about Florida family’s foreclosure crisis failed to get much response among the general public.
“Grandma” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8
$240,722 in 205 theaters (-110); Cumulative: $6,272,000
SPC should get this up to around $7 million, ahead of fellow Sundance acquisition “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” but a little under sleeper success “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”
“Meet the Patels” (Alchemy) Week 5 72- est 800
$171,455 in 90 theaters (+18); Cumulative: $963,531
Still showing life as it continues to expand, this Indian-American arranged marriage doc is approaching $1 million.
“Goodnight Mommy” (Radius/Weinstein) Week 5
$135,140 in 86 theaters (+43); Cumulative: $650,482
Expanding to its likely widest theater count, this Austrian horror film (and Oscar submission) continues to find interest outside the usual subtitled profile.
“Pawn Sacrifice” (Bleecker Street) Week 4
$(est.) 100,000 in 125 theaters (-546); Cumulative: $(est.) 2,320,000
The epic 1970s Iceland chess match retelling is fading very quickly, with a minimal result at remaining theaters.
“Learning to Drive” (Broad Green) Week 8
$63,101 in 69 theaters (-46); Cumulative: $3,285,000
Broad Green ended up with decent results for this New York set older character drama, now nearing the end of its run.
“Sleeping With Other People” (IFC) Week 5
$51,600 in 129 theaters (-273); Cumulative: $765,246
Minimal gross nearing the end of the run for this Jason Sudeikis/Alison Brie rom-com that went theatrical only, unlike many similar films these days.