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Arthouse Audit: Starry ‘A Bigger Splash’ and Cannes-Winner ‘Dheepan’ Lead Specialty Openers

Arthouse Audit: Starry 'A Bigger Splash' and Cannes-Winner 'Dheepan' Lead Specialty Openers

“A Bigger Splash”

Two new releases stood out this weekend: Fox Searchlight’s “A Bigger Splash,” set on a glamorous seaside location with a handsome cast, and IFC’s Cannes-winner “Dheepan.” “A Bigger Splash”s $22,000 weekend average (brought down a bit by opening Wednesday) is ahead of most recent releases. While not as strong, “Dheepan” bested most recent subtitled fare.  

Other titles debuted less well, including Sony Pictures Classics’ horse-racing documentary “Dark Horse” and Rob Reiner’s “Being Charlie.” Recent debuts “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) and “The Meddler” (SPC) continue to show promise in their early expansions.


“A Bigger Splash” (Fox Searchlight) – Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Venice, London 2015
$110,000 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $22,000; Cumulative: $134,067

The PTA for Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to “I Am Love,” which also starred Tilda Swinton, is one of the best for a platform opening in recent weeks. In this escapist Mediterranean story, Swinton is a pop star recovering from throat surgery with her lover (Matthias Schoenaerts) when her ex-husband (Ralph Fiennes) arrives at their island paradise with his fetching daughter (Dakota Johnson) in tow. Various romantic and sexual entanglements ensue. The movie outperformed recent openers “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” “The Meddler” and “Sing Street.” Though “Midnight Special” and the younger-oriented “Green Room” opened better over the last two months, this marks a promising start and promises something more exotic than the mainly domestic contemporary smaller-scale dramas on view of late. With Searchlight behind it, the movie should find an audience.

Searchlight last opened a movie two days early with fall awards-contender “Brooklyn.” “A Bigger Splash” comes in a little less than half of that strong opening (its Oscar push took it to $38 million). “Splash” won’t approach that level, but it’s a promising start that will justify a wider expansion beyond core theaters. This gross also is ahead of the far more anticipated awards-period release of “Youth” last December.

What comes next: This expands to 25 theaters this Friday with expansions in its two current cities and five new markets.

“Dheepan” (IFC) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2015
$22,780 in 2 theaters; PTA: $11,390

Just under a year after its surprise Palme D’Or win, Jacques Audiard’s latest film opened with good reviews in two top Manhattan theaters to an above-average response for a subtitled film. With no stars (Audiard’s previous “Rust and Bone” starred Marion Cotillard) and a story revolving around South Asian refugees in France, a PTA of about 80% of that film is a positive initial sign. (“Rust” went on to gross $2 million).

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with a rollout nationally continuing through May.

“Dark Horse” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Criticwire: A-; Metacritic:72; Festivals include:
$14,674 in 3 theaters; PTA: $4,891

This Welsh documentary about average small-town owners of a promising race horse won the World Documentary prize at Sundance 2015. Its two-city debut came the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby, but also a few weeks after a similarly titled but otherwise quite different New Zealand film opened to little response (from Broad Green). That overlap likely had little impact. This effort nabbed little attention even with top theaters, significant support and positive reviews.

What comes next: Six more cities, including atypically Louisville, add on next week.

“Being Charlie” (Paladin) – Criticwire; B- Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Toronto 2015
$13,650 in 4 theaters; PTA: $3,413

Rob Reiner’s low-budget non-studio story based on his son’s recovery from drug abuse opened in New York and Los Angeles, though not at the usual specialized-oriented initial theaters. While backed by personal appearances on both coasts, the film received mediocre reviews and responded with modest grosses.

What comes next: Four more markets this week, with other big cities to follow.

“Rabin In His Own Words” (Menemsha) –  Festivals include: Hot Docs 2016
$(est.) 13,000 in 6 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,167

This documentary on the late Israeli Prime Minister scored some strong theaters (led by New York’s Lincoln Plaza) but fared little better than the recent biofilm on his life released by Kino Lorber.

What comes next: The subject matter likely gets it some play in niche theaters, but continued modest results are likely.

“Band of Outsiders” (Rialto) – reissue
$(est.) 9,000 in 1 theater; PTA: (est.) 9,000

Jean-Luc Godard’s mid-1960s masterpiece (its original title “Band a Part” became the name of Tarantino’s production company) has been restored and reissued. With the iconic Anna Karina making rare American appearances (watch Anne Thompson’s video interview), its New York date showed decent strength for a revival. (The film has been regularly available through the Criterion Collection otherwise over the years). (Cinefamily in Los Angeles is not reporting.) 

Also available on Video on Demand:

“Mothers and Daughters” (Screen Media) – $(est.) 12,000 in 34 theaters
“Elstree 1976” (FilmRise) – $3,000 in 14 theaters

International releases:

“24” (Cinegalaxy/India) – $(est.) 1,000,000 in 161 theaters
“Just the Three of Us” (ABS/Philippines) – $(est.) 240,000 in 67 theaters

Week Two

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC)
$220,800 in 40 theaters (+31); PTA: $5,520; Cumulative: $328,163

Among recent releases, this English biofilm set in the world of academic mathematics is doing roughly similar to second weekends of “The Meddler” and “Sing Street” and about half of “Eye in the Sky.” In other words, it’s getting decent initial sampling in its fairly rapid top market expansion, without certainty yet about how wide it can go. The most encouraging figure is the 80% jump Saturday from Friday, among the best of any film, which shows strong adult appeal and initially good word of mouth. This moves into the top 50 markets this Friday.

“Viva” (Magnolia) 
$(est.) 30,000 in 16 theaters (+2); PTA: $(est.) 1,875; Cumulative: $(est.) 98,000

Disappointing results for the second weekend of this audience-friendly and well-reviewed Irish/Cuban film set in Havana’s drag club scene.

“The Family Fang” (Starz); also available on Video on Demand
$104,880 in 52 theaters (+51); PTA: $2,016; Cumulative: $124,948

Jason Bateman’s second directorial effort added streaming this weekend after a strong Manhattan exclusive opening. Its parallel national expansion is adequate as the new dates help to get the word out to potential home viewers.

“Papa Hemingway in Havana” (Yari)    664
$181,209 in 208 theaters (-117); PTA: $871; Cumulative: $844,988

A big drop from its mediocre opening for this Havana-filmed recounting of the famed author’s time in the city.

“Eva Hesse” (Zeitgeist)  1   29
$(est.) 13,500 in theaters; PTA: $(est.) 13,500; Cumulative: $(est.) 42,700

This estimate suggests that this unheralded documentary about an avant-garde German artist a half century ago went up on its second weekend at New York’s Film Forum. This may be a localized downtown Manhattan reaction, but at a time where some of the better results for non-fiction films have been about lesser known creative figures, this could end up having significant further interest.

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

“An Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street)  Week 9
$512,259 in 418 theaters (-196); Cumulative: $17,249,000

Another weekend with a $500K-plus gross places this hit military-intelligence thriller closer to $20 million, as it already has set the mark for best specialized release of the year.

“A Hologram for the King” (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$479,303 in 400 theaters (-123); Cumulative: $3,402,000

The combination of Tom Hanks in an adaptation of a Dave Eggers best seller failed to connect beyond modest levels. This production had a lot going for it, but didn’t perform up to expectations and will end up close to $5 million.

“Sing Street” (Weinstein)  Week 4
$422,000 in 153 theaters (+49); Cumulative: $1,114,000

John Carney’s latest Irish music-oriented tale is performing below his earlier ones though getting some attention as it expands. His sleeper breakout “Once” grossed $434,000 in only 60 theaters, suggesting that even with Weinstein’s typical aggressive push this will end up with a lesser response. 

“Green Room” (A24) Week 4
$343,570 in 470 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $2,064,000

This acclaimed horror/thriller film hasn’t hit the successful breakout curve Radius scored last year with “It Follows” nor anything like their own younger audience successes as it quickly heads to the end of its run at most theaters.

“The Meddler” (Sony Pictures Classics)  Week 3
$294,307 in 53 theaters (+29); Cumulative: $613,943

Susan Sarandon’s other vehicle expanded further with Mother’s Day boost to results a little below SPC’s “The Lady in the Van” in a similar configuration, and around 60% of “Grandma.” Both films were decent performers, but oddly, “The Lady in the Van” ended up the bigger film by about $3 million. How high “The Meddler” will go is yet to be determined. 

Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions)  Week 9
$311,664 in 285 theaters (-191); Cumulative: $13,315,000

Still performing well in its third month, with a total gross that will be far above most other first half 2016 releases, this breakout success is the sleeper surprise of the season.

“Compadres” (Lionsgate) Week 3
$170,000 in 212 theaters (-147); Cumulative: $2,730,000

Another Mexican comedy from Lionsgate’s production partner Pantaleon again will end up over $3 million despite a limited release aimed at Latino audiences.

“Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics)  Week 6
$131,361 in 141 theaters (-249); Cumulative: $2,254,000

SPC gave this strong backing and a chance to reach wider audiences, but it looks like it will fall short of $3 million.

“Dough” (Menmesha) Week 13
$130,000 in 54 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $653,000

After 11 weeks of targeted dates, this British cross-religion comedy set in a bakery expands after its late New York/Los Angeles openings to more theaters and a respectable response. This could hit $1 million, making it one of the surprises of the year, more so with its unorthodox release pattern (which started in the Miami area).

“Everybody Wants Some!!” (Paramount)  Week 6
$110,000 in 131 theaters (-311); Cumulative: $3,254,000

Richard Linklater’s latest film is turning out to be one of his weakest performers, with this likely one of its last weeks and falling short of $4 million. The well-reviewed 1980 college comedy was a ‘tweener that failed to reach young people or their parents. 

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