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Arthouse Audit: ‘Tickled’ Leads Long List of Modest Openers

A wide range of niche titles playing in arthouses (and on VOD) this summer has yielded a small number of breakouts.

“Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made”

Drafthouse Films

It’s only June and it already feels like the dog days of summer. No breakouts. A slew of niche titles, including several documentaries. This week’s standout is Sundance doc hit “Tickled” (Magnolia), which is showing some potential.

This week’s range of titles is wide and diverse. Some boast high festival and/or review pedigrees, and many come from distributors who aren’t reporting numbers (we offer estimates; “Parched,” an Indian indie from Wolfe Releasing and “2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour” remained elusive).

Meantime, “Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions) and “The Lobster” (A24) continue to thrive ahead of other recent releases and “Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Pictures Classics) keeps going, along with doc standout “Weiner” (IFC).




“Tickled” (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2016

$24,000 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $12,000

After its strong reaction contending at Sundance’s World Documentary competition, this expose of the people behind a tickling cult by two New Zealand filmmakers had a better than average response at its exclusive New York and Los Angeles Landmark Theater locations. The film keeps generating publicity – the subjects of the film showed up at a Friday LA Nuart Theater Q & A to confront the directors. This could gain traction with its combination of offbeat topic and pursuit of mystery elements.

What comes next: Five more North American markets open this Friday, with more planned the following weeks.

“Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” (Drafthouse) –  Metacritic: 72;  Festivals include: South by Southwest, Hot Docs 2015; also available on Video on Demand

$(est.) 12,000 in 18 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 667

This fanboy recreation of the Spielberg 80s smash is showing on multiple platforms, including theaters (including New York and Los Angeles), with shows on shared screens/partial schedule. The theatrical release gives added attention to its streaming presentation, where fans of the original are more likely to discover it.

What comes next: This has some further theatrical dates set, but its main impact will be via streaming.

Land and Shade

“Land and Shade”

Outsider Pictures

“Land and Shade” (Outsider) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Cannes, AFI 2015

$(est.) 600 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 600

Another film from Colombia, the source of the first half of 2016’s biggest grossing specialized subtitled release “Embrace of the Serpent,” this also debuted at last year’s Cannes. It won the Camera d’or prize as best debut feature, as well as a top prize at AFI last fall. Despite this, it scored a less-prime Manhattan venue, the Village East, and despite decent reviews managed to draw only around 50 ticket buyers all weekend.

What comes next: Limited prospects at best theatrically.

“Clown” (Weinstein) – Festivals include: Glascow 2015; also available on Video on Demand

$27,000 in 100 theaters; PTA: $270

Released officially under the once-prominent Weinstein genre label Dimension, this two-year-old Canadian horror film is of some interest because director Jon Watts went on to make the Sundance-premiered “Cop Car” and is now set to direct “Spider-Man: Homecoming” for Sony. 100 is an unusual number of theaters for a horror VOD release, but is also apparently the minimum number of theatrical dates under their lucrative Netflix streaming deal, where this will likely show up before too long. Of further interest is that Eli Roth served as a producer. The gross is an afterthought.

What comes next: Home viewing exclusively.

“Proof of Innocence” (CJ)

$(est.) 11,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $

South Korean local smash and decent domestic success “The Wailing” slipped in under the radar a few weeks ago at Los Angeles’ CGV Theater (centrally located in the center of the Korean-American community). This opened exclusively there this week after a decent run at home (about $10 million). The story here is about a cynical ex-cop now expediting illicit strategies to aid criminals, who then finds a case where he is able to combat an ex-rival. This didn’t open at the level “The Wailing” achieved, but still is a credible number.

What comes next: Likely national expansion ahead to similar audience theaters.

“Cosmos” (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Locarno 2015

$4,133 in 1 theater; PTA: $4,133

Polish director Andrzej Zulawski made a name for himself making provocative genre-benders often with strong sexual content. This comeback film for him (the first since 2000) was completed shortly before his death early this year. The plot here involves a young law student and his experiences at an odd Portuguese boarding house (at least as its starting point). Appropriately opening at the offbeat Metrograph Theater in New York, this had a modest response from more enterprising moviegoers.

What comes next: This will show at select locations, including less than full week runs, at various theatrical and non-theatrical venues. Los Angeles opens on August 24.

“Seoul Searching” (Wonder Vision) – Metacritic: 65;  Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle, Los Angeles 2015

$(est.) 6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 6,000

Opening nearly a year and a half after its Sundance premiere, this 1980s-set film recreates the experiences some ex-pat ethnic Korean teens had when sent to a discover-your-roots camp back in their native land. This got a better than average response for similar Asian young-audience aimed releases at New York’s Empire 25 complex.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday.

“My Love, Don’t Cross That River” (Film Movement) – Metacritic: 73;  Festivals include: Hot Docs, Los Angeles 2015

$(est.) 6,500 in 2 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,250

Said to be the biggest indie success ever in Korea, this documentary tells the story of an elderly couple who have been married for 76 years. It scored two key Manhattan theaters— the Lincoln Plaza and Angelika (though with, very unusually, only three shows at the former). The results were minor.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with other theatrical dates set during July and beyond.

The Last King

“The Last King”

Newgrange Pictures

“The Last King” (Magnolia); also available on Video on Demand

$(est.) 5,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,667

Veteran Norwegian director Nils Gaup had some success with earlier films “The Pathfinder,” then the English-language “Shipwrecked.” Magnolia has significant ties to various Scandanavian companies, so their positioning the 12th century historic epic (vaguely similar to “Game of Thrones”; both star Kristover Hivju) as a VOD release makes sense, even if it is subtitled. The off-the-radar theater dates (among them Seattle and Minneapolis) are not meant to make much impact.

What comes next: VOD all the way.

“Bang Gang – A Modern Love Story” (Goldwyn) – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, Rendezvous With French Cinema 2016

$(est.) 2,500 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 833

Another Toronto acquisition, this French film focuses on aimless mid-teen kids over a summer and their relaxed, routine engagement in sex without much meaning as they seek ways to kill boredom. Goldwyn got play at two prime Los Angeles locations (including the Royal) as well as the Village East in Manhattan, but to virtually no response.

What comes next: Another example of how the tried and true (French provocative sex as subject stories) no longer work for arthouse crowds.

“Argentina” (First Run) – Festivals include: Venice 2015, Miami 2016

$(est.) 2,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 2,000

Veteran Spanish director Carlos Saura has mainly been making documentaries about various forms of dance in the Spanish-speaking world. This one focuses on lesser known forms of dance and music in the South American country. This got play, though less than a complete screen, at New York’s prime Lincoln Plaza Theater, but minimal interest.

What comes next: The subject likely gets this some limited niche bookings.

International releases:

“Udta Punjab” (White Hill/India) – $(est.) 640,000 in 106 theaters

“Gentleman” (ATMUS/India) – $(est.) 500,000 in 125 theaters



Week Two

“Genius” (Roadside Attractions)

$306,070 in 131 theaters (+115); PTA: $2,300; Cumulative: $442,620

Mixed response to the quick expansion for this pre-World War 2 New York literary world biopic about the writing relationship between father figure and editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) and exuberant author Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman provide femme support. This isn’t getting the review support that could help at a time where there is room for fresh blood among older specialized moviegoers.

“The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” (The Orchard)

$30,370 in 11 theaters (+8); PTA: $2,761; Cumulative: $67,734

A modest performance in additional big cities for this high-end musician doc that was first seen at this year’s Sundance.

“De Palma” (A24)

$37,659 in 19 theaters (+16); PTA: $1,982; Cumulative: $81,420

Moving to other top markets after its decent limited start, this doc about a cult and wider audience favorite director showed less interest overall than last weekend.

"The Diary of a Chambermaid"

“The Diary of a Chambermaid”

“Diary of a Chambermaid” (Cohen)

$16,872 in 9 theaters (+7); PTA: $1,875; Cumulative: $32,192

Benoit Jacquot’s latest release showed modest impact in its second weekend expansion after a minor opening last week.

“From Afar” (Strand)

$(est.) 4,500 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $2,250; Cumulative: $(est.) 12,300

Los Angeles came on board for this Venezuelan gay-relationship story that has been getting good reviews. The results remain mixed.

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

“Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 6

$797,040 in 497 theaters (-329); Cumulative: $10,993,000

A big drop in theaters, but this biggest recent arthouse success (from Amazon Studios) still looks headed toward a very strong $13 million or higher gross.

“The Lobster” (A24) – Week 6

$647,570 in 319 theaters (-241); Cumulative: $6,690,000

Still showing strength at its core theaters, this surprise offbeat success is another example of A24’s continued ability to get younger audiences into offbeat more challenging specialized films.

"Maggie's Plan"

“Maggie’s Plan”

“Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 5

$471,417 in 335 theaters (+24); Cumulative: $1,806,000

Another uptick in theater count brings Greta Gerwig’s latest comedy closer to reaching the $2.5 million total of last summer’s “Mistress America.”

“Weiner” (IFC) – Week 5; also available on Video on Demand

$144,000 in 80 theaters (+9); Cumulative: $1,055,000

Even without its parallel home viewing availability, this still would be an impressive showing for a politics-based doc, even with its sex scandal aspects. That it is over $1 million already is an even greater achievement.

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) – Week 8

$ 117,000 in 86 theaters (-29); Cumulative: $3,487,000

This Dev Patel/Jeremy Irons math academic biopic didn’t quite reach the level of previous similar efforts, but it did have a strong national presence as it compiled a better than average result among recent releases. 

“Dark Horse” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 7

$78,371 in 43 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $368,707

SPC’s ability to push out even weaker opening films shows results again as this feel-good horse racing doc still is showing life weeks into its run.

“The Meddler” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 9

$69,508 in 94 theaters (-42); Cumulative: $4,034,000

Susan Sarandon’s reasonably successful mother/daughter drama is wrapping up its run with a $4 million-plus total. That places it ahead of many of the higher-end 2016 specialized releases.

“The Wailing” (Well Go) – Week 5

$(est.) 55,000 in 22 theaters (-13); Cumulative: $(est.) 656,000

This South Korean massive local hit continues to get some North American interest in a variety of arthouse and general audience theaters.

Also noted:

“Swing Street” (Weinstein) – $25,500 in 55 theaters; Cumulative: $3,038,000

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” (Roadside Attractions) – $22,020 in 47 theaters; Cumulative:  $14,377,000

“The Fits” (Oscilloscope) – $12,000 in 7 theaters; Cumulative: $49,447

“Dough” (Menemsha) – $10,842 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $1,017,000

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