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Arthouse Audit: New Year, Same Awards Candidates as ‘Anomalisa’ and ‘Carol’ Expand

Arthouse Audit: New Year, Same Awards Candidates as 'Anomalisa' and 'Carol' Expand

This awards season has provided lower box office totals thus far. Last year before the nominations, four non-studio initially platformed films had already grossed over $25 million, compared to only one to date this year. This weekend, the main contenders provide the lion’s share of results. As usual, the pickings among New York/Los Angeles openers are slim (and will likely remain so until next month), so these older films remain crucial to filling seats in many specialized theaters.

Late opener animated “Anomalisa” (Paramount) showed some life in its limited expansion, but will see more interest after nominations this week. “Carol” (Weinstein) with the most theaters had the top result among the wider releases, but remains at the low-end for the top contender from a company usually in the center of Oscar contention.


“The Treasure” (IFC) – Criticwire: A- Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2015; Also available on Video on Demand
$15,636 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,212

Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu (“12:08 East of Bucharest,” “Police, Adjective”) has made a previous footprint in domestic release. His most recent film “Treasure” had a strong 2015 festival pedigree, and becomes the first strongly reviewed film of the year. As with so many of recent films from the country, this focuses on average characters involved in oddball adventures (here a search for buried loot) that serve as commentary for the state of the society. Unusually for a subtitled film, IFC also elected to present this on VOD nationally along with its limited initial opening.

What comes next: The reviews should propel more niche bookings and also additional home viewing.

“Anesthesia” (IFC) – Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Tribeca 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$7,200 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,200

Actor/director Tim Blake Nelson’s drama about a retiring professor looking back at his complicated life has a big-time cast (Kristin Stewart, Glenn Close, Sam Waterston, Gretchen Mol included). This likely propelled IFC to as they frequently do emphasize the VOD route. But they also opened in Manhattan with the director making appearances, leading to a better than average gross for a day and date release. 

What comes next: Other big cities will have theatrical dates (including Los Angeles this Friday), but this will be primarily a VOD play.

“The Masked Saint” (Freestyle) – Festivals include: International Christian 2015
$(est.) 130,000 in 482 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $(est.) 270

Yes, the PTA is $270 for the national release of this faith-based film (about a wrestler turned preacher turned vigilante), which suggests that its intended audience is becoming more choosy about the films it goes out to see.

What comes next: Little future apart from some home viewing ahead.

“Troublemakers – The Story of Land Art” (First Run) – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: New York 2015
$(est.) 4,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $4,000

Considering that the film had only two-three shows each day at its Manhattan theater, this isn’t a bad gross for a documentary about primitive art designs discovered in natural settings worldwide.

“Lamb” (The Orchard) –  Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Seattle 2015
$3,150 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,575

A man at the end of his rope abducts an 11-year-old girl for uncertain reasons in this indie drama which saw select festival play last year. Its initial theater play resulted in limited interest.

What comes next: The Orchard plans a 50 theater expansion this Friday, with VOD starting on Tuesday,

“Trust Fund” (Independent)
$(est.) 15,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $3,750

Independently produced in Kansas City (but set in part in Italy), this romantic story opened at four AMC theaters in its home area to results that suggested some interest.

What comes next: Likely though not to travel much further.

International releases:

“Wazik” (Big Pictures/India) – $(est.) 625,000 in 114 theaters
“My Bebe Love” (ABS/Philippines) – $(est.) 120,000 in 16 theaters

Week 2

“Anomalisa” (Paramount)
$221,000 in 17 theaters (+13); PTA: $13,000; Cumulative: $491,000

New openings in top cities continue to bring this adult drama animated films high end reviews, with continued decent but not spectacular grosses. Paramount plans further gradual expansion to play off its expected Oscar Animated Feature nomination.

“Chimes at Midnight” (Janus) (reissue)
$19,000 in 1 theater; Cumulative: $53,824

Orson Welles’ 1966 Shakespearean adaptation continues its stellar initial dates at New York’s Film Forum (and L.A.’s Cinefamily, which did not report). This is nearly as good as its performance over the holiday weekend, a stunning result.

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

“Carol” (Weinstein) Week 8
$1,474,000 in 525 theaters (+336); Cumulative: $6,992,000

A big expansion for Todd Haynes’ acclaimed period romance pushes “Carol” to its highest gross so far. How much higher it gets depends on the next week or so with potential further awards attention. This is doing— in rough head to head comparisons— better than “Trumbo” and “The Danish Girl” with possible substantial higher totals ahead. But it is Weinstein’s lead Oscar horse, and as such, much below what the company usually has this time of year.

“Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight) Week 10
$1,050,000 in 294 theaters (+9); Cumulative: $22,434,000

Continuing to thrive in advance of likely bigger attention ahead, Fox Searchlight has smartly handled this Irish emigre story so that it could add substantial revenue. Word of mouth as well as awards so far for Saoirse Ronan are keeping this strong in the middle of its third month in release.

“Spotlight” (Open Road) Week 10
$941,499 in 368 theaters (-17); Cumulative: $28,560,000

Continuing our comparison with last year’s Best Picture, “Spotlight” grossed 50% more this weekend than”Birdman” did the same weekend, and has increased its to-date lead to over $2 million. Meantime though, surging much wider released competitor “The Big Short” has already done about 50% more business so far despite only being in release for a month.

“The Danish Girl” (Focus) Week 7
$826,000 in 417 theaters (-32); Cumulative: $7,586,000

This is now lagging behind “Spotlight” and “Brooklyn” despite playing in more theaters and having had a shorter run. Its future depends, more than some of the other releases, on its upcoming awards showings,

“Youth” (Fox Searchlight) Week 6
$190,000 in 95 theaters (-49); Cumulative: $2,003,000

Another film whose future will be determined by how it fares in Oscar nominations, Searchlight so far has seen only modest returns for Paolo Sorrentino’s story about a filmmaker plotting his next film at a Swiss spa. At this (possibly still early) point it is a little under $1 million behind what the director’s Foreign Language Oscar winning “The Great Beauty” did in total two years ago at far fewer theaters.

Room(A24) Week 13    
$138,072 in 88 theaters (-3); Cumulative: $5,189,000

Intriguingly, the gross went up $22,000 from last weekend despite three fewer theaters. A24’s plan all along has been to capitalize on hoped-for January wins and nominations. Depending on what happens over the next few days, their strategy could pay off with a much wider release ahead.

“Trumbo” (Bleecker Street) Week 10
$106,656 in 90 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $7,206,000

Treading water in advance of awards and nominations, this Hollywood biopic is getting close to being start-up distributor Bleecker Street’s biggest success so far.

“45 Years” (IFC) Week 3
$90,567 in 9 theaters (+3); Cumulative: $354,716

Still quite limited, this British long-term marriage drama held well post-holiday although this is not performing at the level of some of the other potential acting nominees (Charlotte Rampling is a likely lead contender). IFC plans its major city expansion for Jan. 22 after they know how they fare, but irrespective this should continue to get strong reviews and fare well without much other new competition in the immediate future.

Also noted:
“Son of Saul” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $28,250, Cumulative: $204,868
“Mustang” (Cohen) –  $21,774 in 14 theaters; Cumulative: $222,298

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