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Arthouse Audit: ‘Hell or High Water’ Tops ‘Southside With You’ and ‘Hands of Stone’

"Hell or High Water" expanded so well this weekend that it could outpace "Eye in the Sky" as the best limited opener of the year.

Howards End

“Howards End”

Sony Pictures Classic

This weekend brings a rare event as three very different specialty films face off nationally on between 800-900 theaters. Debuting “Southside With You” (Roadside Attractions) and “Hands of Stone” (Weinstein) go up against “Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate) in its third week.

The winner is “Hell or High Water,” which after this weekend’s success could wind up the year’s highest-grossing specialized release.  “Southside With You” also scored high numbers, with “Hands of Stone” not up to its level.

Five Sundance releases are among this week’s new films, ranging from relatively wide opener “Southside” to Video on Demand entry “The Intervention.” As the Toronto Film Festival looms, the Park City event, despite offering half as many films, remains the biggest festival for acquisition titles.

"Hands of Stone"

“Hands of Stone”

Rico Torres/The Weinstein Company


“Southside With You” (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2016
$3,065,000 in 813 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,762

A strong initial result for this young Obamas-in-love story that built on its good Sundance response with more positive reaction as it came to theaters. This post-Weinstein/Disney Miramax film is going out through Roadside Attractions, similar to the successful “Mr. Holmes” last year. This gross is better than any single weekend for that film, which opened in fewer than half as many theaters. It had an 11% uptick Saturday, best among the top wider openers this week.

What comes next: A small expansion for the weekend, which will give a stronger indication of how high this will go. So far, so good.

“Hands of Stone” (Weinstein) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Cannes 2016
$1,734,000 in 810 theaters; PTA: $2,141

This latest boxing film (starring Edgar Ramirez in a biopic about the stormy career of Robert Duran) will triple its theaters this Wednesday, with the more limited but still wide release meant to spur word of mouth. It scored an A Cinemascore, which doesn’t always translate into strong grosses, but is a positive sign. The Saturday gross was up 2% from the initial Friday number (which included some Thursday shows). About 50% of its initial audience is Latino, with the initial dates strategically placed to lure that demographic. Consider this a work in progress, with Weinstein certain to strongly support this. That said, in just about the same number of theaters it did only slightly more than half as well as “Southside With You.”

What comes next: We’ll know next weekend whether the game plan worked.

“Mia Madre” (Music Box) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2015
$35,600 in 6 theaters; PTA: $5,833

Veteran Italian director Nanni Moretti’s latest film opened a bit under his 2012 “We Have a Pope.” Its release after good 2015 Cannes reaction was delayed after initial distributor Alchemy disintegrated, with Music Box picking it up. Its PTA for its New York/Los Angeles theaters is about $8,500, sadly about to be expected these days even for well-reviewed subtitled films.

What comes next: Five additional markets open this Friday.

“The Hollars” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Sundance 2016
$46,068 in 4 theaters; PTA: $11,517

John Krasinski’s second directorial outing, about an artist brought back to his dysfunctional small town family, got strong theater placement in New York and Los Angeles but only average grosses.

Mixed reviews likely cut into its appeal.

What comes next: SPC as usual will maximize its potential with nationwide dates starting shortly.

“Fatima” (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Cannes 2015, Rendezvous With French Cinema 2016

Previous winners of France’s top film award the Cesar have included “Timbuktu,” “Amour,” “The Artist” and “The Prophet.” This latest drama set among France’s Muslim population opened in one New York theaters to modestly favorable reviews and grosses consistent with them.
$6,400 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,400

What comes next: Los Angeles and other cities are scheduled post-Labor Day.

“Complete Unknown” (IFC) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle 2016
$15,680 in 2 theaters; PTA: $7,840

Another Sundance 2016-premiere from Joshua Marston (“Maria Full of Grace”), this drama starring Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon and Kathy Bates opened in two Manhattan theaters to modest results.

"Kate Plays Christine"

“Kate Plays Christine”

What comes next: Los Angeles is next up this Friday

“Kate Plays Christine” (Grasshopper) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin 2016
$(est.) 5,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 5,500; Cumulative: (est.) 8,500

The first of two releases about the on-air suicide of a TV news woman got decent reviews but mixed business after its Wednesday New York opening.

What comes next: Likely limited further openings in other cities.

“The Sea of Trees” (A24) – Metacritic: 23; Festivals include: Cannes 2015; also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 2,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,000

Gus Van Sant’s film with Matthew McConaughey was DOA with its Cannes competition reaction last year, with career-worst reviews for him. Theatrical dates in New York and Los Angeles for the VOD release, for the record, drew only about 200 people.

What comes next: VOD will be its main base.

READ MORE: Why A24 Picked Up Critical Dud ‘The Sea of Trees’

“Greater” (Hammond)
$(est.) 660,000 in 340 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,941

An independent film about the most successful walk-on college football player ever opened nationwide with focus beyond coastal markets to modest results. It had a healthy 60% Saturday jump.

What comes next: This likely sustains a run through the holiday weekend and possibly beyond.

Howard’s End” (Cohen) (reissue)
$24,822 in theater; PTA: $12,411
Two theaters in Manhattan debuted this reissue of the 1991 Merchant/Ivory film (one of the first released by Sony Pictures Classics), including the Paris, the regular home of most of their releases. This is a strong number for a reissued film.

What comes next: Numbers like these should enhance the theatrical interest.

Also opening on Video on Demand:

“The Intervention” (Goldwyn/Sundance 2016) – $(est.) 25,000 in 16 theaters
“I Am Not a Serial Killer” (IFC/South by Southwest/2016) – $(est.) 2,500 in 1 theater

International releases:

“The Tunnel” (Well Go/South Korea) – $180,465 in 36 theaters
“Time Raiders” (Media Asia/China) – $(est.) 100,000 in 35 theaters

Week Two

“A Tale of Love and Darkness” (Focus)
$121,000 in 26 theaters (+24); PTA: $4,654; Cumulative: $172,207

Natalie Portman’s debut as a director (in her native Israel) had a healthy expansion to 13 more cities this week, with a particularly strong 120% (more than doubled) result on Saturday. The count will double again next weekend with Focus’ strong support, a rare subtitled release for a studio-owned company (other than Sony Pictures Classics) with this looking to perform better than anticipated.

“The People vs. Fritz Bauer” (Cohen)
$21,490 in 8 theaters (+2); PTA: $2,686; Cumulative: $73,145

Modest results as this German post-war prosecutorial pursuit film moved into additional cities.

“Morris from America” (A24) – also available on Video on Demand
$(est.) 15,000 in 9 theaters (+7); PTA: $(est.) 1,667; Cumulative: $(est.) 37,000

VOD is the main source of viewing for this Sundance-premiered young-American-rapper-in-Germany story which added some other cities this week.

“Lo and Behold, Reveries of a Connected World” (Magnolia) – also available on Video on Demand 41/178
$(est.) 80,000 in 36 theaters (-5); PTA: $(est.) 2,222; Cumulative: $(est.) 258,000

Werner Herzog’s documentary about the contemporary net and other devices impact continues its theatrical counterpart to its streaming with decent results for a film also viewable at home.

“Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” (Vertical)
$(est.) 48,000 in 24 theaters (unchanged); PTA: $(est.) 2,000; Cumulative: $(est.) 238,000

This Japanese animated adaptation of the cult video game added to its initial strong opening in advance of its streaming debut this week.

“Spa Night” (Strand)
$8,500 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $8,500; Cumulative: $19,500
This Korean-American coming out story added Los Angeles this weekend with some interest with further expansion looming.

“Ixcanul” (Kino Lorber)
$19,000 in 6 theaters (+5); PTA: $3,167; Cumulative: $45,455

This rare Guatemalan film expanded to five new cities including Los Angeles this weekend for modest results. Expect this to open in other top markets through September.

Expanding/ongoing (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

“Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate) Week 3
$3,725,000 in 909 theaters (+437); Cumulative: $8,564,000

These are outstanding results for the contemporary Western which is performing close to the year’s top limited opener (“Eye in the Sky”) at roughly the same stage. This has potential to go higher. And it’s besting the two openers, both of which were boosted by their initial push while this was held over at about half its theaters. Further expansion looks certain. This looks to be the most successful collaboration yet between CBS Films and its distribution partner Lionsgate.

“Don’t Think Twice” (Film Arcade) Week 6
$457,450 in 150 theaters (+50); Cumulative: $2,375,012

Mike Birbiglia’s latest has now topped his earlier “Sleepwalk With Me” (which had a spectacular run parallel to streaming, not a factor this time). But impressively “Don’t” is staying close to its earlier PTA as it expands, which suggests it has much more to add to its total.

“Cafe Society” (Lionsgate) Week 7
$360,000 in 216 theaters (-55); Cumulative: $10,012,219

Woody Allen’s first collaboration with Amazon and new distributor Lionsgate will top his previous two films, but not by as much as seemed possible when it initially opened.

“Equity” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$351,420 in 255 theaters (+212); Cumulative: $936,020

The expansion for this women-in-charge on Wall Street film is performing behind other recent SPC mid-level successes “Maggie’s Plan” and “The Meddler.’


“Indignation” (Roadside Attractions) Week 5
$253,965 in 172 theaters (-145); Cumulative: $2,811,905

James Schamus’ transition into directing hasn’t sustained its initial strength. It now looks to top out somewhere under $4 million.

“Captain Fantastic” (Bleecker Street) Week 8
$174,265 in 122 theaters (-31); Cumulative: $5,036,473

A healthy run for this Viggo Mortensen-starring wilderness family film is wrapping up but still could approach $6 million.



“Anthropoid” (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$144,887 in 124 theaters (-317); Cumulative: $2,871,453

An aggressive initial break will get this World War II thriller over $3 million, but it never gained traction and is falling quickly.

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (The Orchard) Week 10
$117,000 in 100 theaters (-25); Cumulative: $4,387,000

The other backcountry film (this one from New Zealand) has been around even longer than “Captain Fantastic” and has done nearly as well.

“Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” (Quality Flix) – Week 7
$52,000 in 80 theaters (-60); Cumulative: $12,471,000

Still hanging around after its much wider release, this shows there is still money to be found in the cinematic equivalent of the alt.right movement.

Also noted:

“Miss Sharon Jones” (Starz Media) – $12,232 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $73,745
“The Music of Strangers” (The Orchard) – $11,248 in 12 theaters; Cumulative: $1,121,000
“Gleason” (Open Road) – $9,682 in 35 theaters; Cumulative: $575,513

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