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Arthouse Audit: ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ Tops Mid-Level Openers

Arthouse Audit: 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' Tops Mid-Level Openers

It’s a sign of the times that Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” drew more commentary last week than any other new narrative film, while a New York Times television critic reviewed Netflix-only movie “Special Correspondents,” starring debut director Ricky Gervais. Expect more of same with other noteworthy digital-platformed movies. 

Back in theaters, new pickings boasted some pedigree but modest numbers. Topping the openers was IFC’s “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” which landed strong theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. The documentary “Eva Hesse” (Zeitgeist) and Jason Bateman’s Sundance hit “The Family Fang” (Starz Digital Media) nabbed decent lower Manhattan exclusive results.

READ MORE: Top 10 Takeaways: ‘The Jungle Book’ Beats Top Three Openers Combined

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“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, Tribeca, San Francisco 2016
$88,134 in 6 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,689

The top multiple screen PTA went to yet another period British biopic about an outsider’s struggles to succeed. This time it’s an Indian who overcomes odds and becomes one of the great mathematical geniuses of his time. Stars Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons matched the material, IFC gave it a strong push in four cities including Boston. What makes this more impressive is that the overall reviews, including key newspapers in New York and Los Angeles, were decidedly mixed. That indicates the film drew on its own, suggesting interest that could be replicated elsewhere.

What comes next: Seven more cities open this city, with top 50 by mid-May.

“Viva” (Magnolia)  –  Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Telluride 2015, Palm Springs, Sundance 2016
$(est.) 48,000 in 14 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,429

This Irish-Cuban coproduction (from veteran director Paddy Breathnach) was touted as a contender for the Foreign Language Oscar when Ireland submitted it. After warm festival receptions and positive reviews, it seemed it might break the recent slump in similar films. A crowd-pleasing Havana-shot story set in the travesti (drag queen) community, Magnolia opened exclusive in Manhattan and then in multiple Los Angeles and Miami locations, making our estimated number harder to gauge. It had a decent Saturday uptick, but it remains to be seen how this will play going forward.

What comes next: Chicago and San Francisco start the national expansion this Friday.

“The Family Fang” (Starz)  – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 66; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, Tribeca 2016
$15,285 in 1 theater; PTA: $15,285

Jason Bateman’s directing debut “Bad Words” opened two years ago to a PTA of nearly $19,000 before going on a wider break of about $7.8 million. His second comedy —with costars Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken —opened exclusively at New York’s Angelika (bolstered with Q & A’s with the director Saturday) to a reasonable response. Its theatrical promise is muted by its future streaming plans starting Friday, along with additional theaters.

What comes next: A big push to 40 markets total will supplement the VOD play.

“Papa Hemingway in Havana” (Yari)   – Metacritic: 37; Festivals include: Key West, Havana 2015, Newport Beach 2016
$491,200 in 325 theaters; PTA: $1,511

“Crash” producer-turned-director Bob Yari used his own distribution company to release his film starring Giovanni Ribisi as a writer who travels to Cuba to interview Ernest Hemingway. Impressively positioned and supported (it was placed at some of the top big-city theaters), it earned low-level reviews which contributed to a mediocre performance overall.

What comes next: Not likely to escape unscathed going forward.  

“A Beautiful Planet” (Buena Vista) – Metacritic: 75
$(est.) 135,000 in 137 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 984

This 46-minute IMAX 3D NASA production opened at both theaters and museum locations to start what is likely a long-term engagement with at least partial shows at many of them.

What comes next: This will play at initial theaters but not much beyond.

“Eva Hesse” (Zeitgeist) – Metacritic: 62
$13,2900 in 1 theater; PTA: $13,290; Cumulative: $18,422

Another example of, at least in Manhattan, the appeal of docs about artists. Eva Hesse was a 1960s German painter who died young but left a legacy. This had no festival play and mixed reviews, making this strong number even more impressive.

What comes next: Though it has niche appeal, it should be enough to get this dated at select locations around the country.

“L’Attesa/The Wait” (Oscilloscope)   – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2015
$6,250 in 2 theaters; PTA: $3,125

Oscilloscope scored the clear victory among subtitled releases this year with “Embrace of the Serpent,” but their latest effort (in Italian) despite good theater placement in New York and Los Angeles has little chance of success with mixed reviews, when even upbeat praise doesn’t guarantee success. Juliette Binoche as a grieving Sicilian mother added heft, but not enough.

What comes next: The distributor is positioned to get key cities open, but this isn’t likely to do more than token business ahead.

Also available on Video on Demand:

“Term Life” (Focus) – $(est.) 13,000 in 50 theaters

International releases:

“Finding Mr. Right 2” (Media Asia/China) – $(est.) 450,000 in 39 theaters
“Baaghi” (UTV/India) – $(est.) 250,000 in 79 theaters

Week 2

“A Hologram for the King” (Roadside Attractions) 
$931,600 in 523 theaters (+122); PTA: $1,791; Cumulative: $2,553,000

Not a bad hold for the second weekend (including expansion) of this Tom Hanks-starring adaptation of Dave Eggers’ Saudi Arabia-set bestseller. It will end up in 12th place overall. Perhaps indicative of a struggling market for many films is the shortfall this shows against similar “Salmon Fishing in the Yukon” in 2012, which managed in its third weekend in less than a quarter as many theaters to gross $702,000 for a PTA three time as high (aided by having fewer runs, but still decidedly better). This has Hanks coming after his prestige success of “Bridge of Spies” last fall, so he can still enhance an adult-oriented film, though not so much in this case, which looks to hit $5 million.

The Meddler” (Sony Pictures Classics)
$174,369 in 24 theaters (+20); PTA: $7,265; Cumulative: $260,730

In its second weekend this Susan Sarandon/Rose Byrne mother/daughter vehicle came in roughly half of Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” at the same point last August. But it’s a bit ahead of the ultimately even bigger (closing in on $10 million) “Lady in the Van” in its second stanza last January, mainly because that was not only the height of Oscar season but a blizzard shut down the Northeast. So this looks like a work in progress. A strong 69% increase Saturday from Friday shows that its intended older audience is responding.

“Elvis and Nixon” (Bleecker Street)
$198,696 in 310 theaters (-71); PTA: $640,000; Cumulative: $883,818

Bleecker Street is proving the viability of the theatrical release model with “Eye in the Sky.” But their release of Amazon’s star-driven (Kevin Spacey/Michael Shannon) vehicle reminds that some films do better going straight to streaming.

“Compadres” (Lionsgate)
$650,000 in 368 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,766; Cumulative: $2,392,000

The second weekend for this Mexican comedy (centered on hacking drug kingpins) dropped a bit more than half, but it is still grabbing more business than a lot of other specialized films at this level of play.

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

“Green Room” (A24) Week 3
$960,000 in 470 theaters (+440); Cumulative: $1,357,000

A24 has had so much recent success, including such younger appeal genre films as last year’s “Ex Machina,” that they set a high bar. This musicians-trapped-in-a-deserted-house thriller, post-major festival presentation and strong reviews, is falling short. It still got enough sampling that audiences could drive further interest. The picture increased 11% on Saturday, not automatic for its audience. Still, this isn’t going to replicate anything close to the $25 million “Ex Machina” attained, nor follow Radius’ 2015 breakout “It Follows,” which looks more impressive all the time.

“Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) Week 8
$863,377 in 613 theaters (-225); Cumulative: $16,356,000

Another strong hold—the PTA as the weakest theaters drop out is nearly equal to last weekend— suggests that this could still end up at the high end of expectations for the top specialized release so far this year (LINK) and even reach $20 million.

READ MORE: 5 Ways that ‘Eye in the Sky’ Topped the 2016 Specialty Box Office

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) Week 8
$456,870 in 404 theaters (-92); Cumulative: $12,777,000

Perhaps the least expected early-year success starring Sally Field as a 70ish woman involved with a younger man continues to draw, with a terrific $15 million total still possible. 

“Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount) Week 5
$360,000 in 442 theaters (-12); Cumulative: $2,982,000

Richard Linklater’s latest isn’t making a major impression. Paramount kept the theater total nearly steady in its fairly wide release, but the PTA is under $1,000. This suggests it doesn’t have a chance to add significantly more to its current total.

“Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$341,780 in 390 theaters (-197); Cumulative: $1,973,000

Don Cheadle’s passion project biopic about Miles Davis hasn’t broken out of a narrow range of interest despite an elevated push from SPC and looks to be in the late stages of its run.

“Sing Street” (Weinstein) Week 3
$330,000 in 104 theaters (+79); Cumulative: $588,908

The expansion of John Carney’s latest music-centered story (after “Once” and “Begin Again”) isn’t showing much strength. The numbers come in less than half of recent successes “Hello, My Name Is Doris” or “Eye in the Sky” at similar points early in their release, as well as lagging behind the director’s own earlier works. It is getting sampling, but doesn’t look like a break out success despite Weinstein’s strong push.

“Dough” (Menemsha) Week 11
$113,200 in 33 (+28) theaters; Cumulative: $492,082

This British oddball bakery comedy added new cities including New York and Los Angeles unusually late in the run. With a strong 68% uptick Saturday from Friday, this movie about a Jewish owner and his Muslim assistant is enjoying the same word of mouth that have made it a modest sleeper success so far.

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