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Arthouse Audit: ‘Moonlight’ Shines as Iggy Pops With ‘Gimme Danger’

"Moonlight" heads for Oscars as Jim Jarmusch's Iggy Pop Documentary "Gimme Danger" scores in limited release.

"Moonlight" Exclusive Image



Moonlight” (A24) remains the top story. Barry Jenkins’ best-reviewed film of the year expanded to a range of big city theaters this week. The movie continued as the top 2016 specialized performer in head to head comparisons this year. This performance is more than enough to buttress its elevated awards expectations, as critics groups start voting in in a few weeks.

But it wasn’t the only successful widened release. Subtitled film “The Handmaiden” (Magnolia) continued to impress, as it added far more than the usual number of second week theaters. It’s playing to both Korean-American and conventional arthouse audiences.

On a Halloween-adjacent weekend that seemed to scare off most distributors, two rock-related documentaries braved the competition. Jim Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger,” with an initial conventional theater release, scored well, while “Oasis: Supersonic” (A24) mostly went for initial one-night events before adding streaming as its main venue.

The best reviewed new release — Werner Herzog’s documentary “Into the Inferno” (Netflix) — is absent from this report since its Netflix-partnered iPic Theater dates are not reported, with its availability otherwise limited to the home-viewing juggernaut. Netflix now seems to have one or two must-see films every week which otherwise would be front and center here.

Into The Inferno

Werner Herzog directs “Into the Inferno.”



“Gimme Danger” (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2016
$44,025 in 3 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,675

With festival hit “Gimme Danger,” the first of Jim Jarmusch’s two late 2016 Amazon releases — Bleecker Street will open his Adam Driver vehicle “Paterson” late in the year — the director meets the Stooges.  The music documentary opened at two New York locations as well as an unusual Detroit initial date (Iggy Pop and company come from nearby Ann Arbor). These would be decent numbers under normal initial patterns, but even more so with that configuration.

What comes next: This opens across the country this Friday.

“Oasis: Supersonic” (A24) – Metacritic: 70; also available on Video on Demand
$18,161 in 14 theaters; PTA: $1,297; Cumulative: $231,820

Following a recent trend among rock-related documentaries, this one about the veteran English band had successful nationwide one night showings last Wednesday ($209,000 in 106 theaters) followed by streaming availability and a handful of holdovers. Those limited dates performed about the same in 14 theaters as the one-night ones, with at this point most of the action on-line.

What comes next: Unlike the breakout success “The Beatles – Eight Days a Week,” this doesn’t look like it will have a significant parallel theatrical life.

“By Sidney Lumet” (Augusta) – Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Cannes 2015, Tribeca 2016
$6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,000

Scoring a coup in its New York Lincoln Plaza Theater booking, this interview with the director of “12 Angry Men” and “Dog Day Afternoon” among many others did a respectable gross. Any sort of theatrical play for a niche film like this is unusual, which makes the result that much more impressive.

What comes next: Los Angeles’ prime Royal Theater opens this Friday, then later big city arthouse dates. This eventually will show up on PBS’ American Masters series.

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” (20th Century Fox)
$2,135,000 in 302 theaters; PTA: $7,070

Apart from his success in India, this is the fifth film with superstar Ranbir Kapoor to gross over $2 million in North America (“P.K.” reached $11 million) and his second to make the overall top ten. This romantic musical was backed by 20th Century Fox which has an aggressive international production operation.

What comes next: This should stick to its current theaters and head to a $4-5 million domestic total.

International releases:

“Kaashmora” (CineGalaxy/India) – (est.)$350,000 in 154 theaters
“Skivaay” (Big Pictures/India) – (est.)$350,000 in 143 theaters
“Mr. Donkey” (China Lion/China) – $81,350 in 20 theaters

Week Two

“Moonlight” (A24)
$900,826 in 36 theaters (+32); PTA: $25,023; Cumulative: $1,472,000

As great as the initial platform numbers were for Barry Jenkins’ gay coming of age Miami drama were last weekend, they didn’t guarantee similar response as it reached wider audiences. Lauded films such as  “The Master” and “Steve Jobs” have found themselves not replicating their success as they widened.

A24’s second-week expansion, which includes a mixture of top specialized theaters and broader top crossovers in the New York and Los Angeles suburbs, Chicago, Toronto and D.C. as well as the more African-American-centered and unusually early Atlanta and South Florida markets, showed wide strength and many best-in-theater grosses.

More significantly, these grosses are much better in similar theater totals than the year’s two best specialized releases. With a PTA of $25,000 in 32 theater, “Moonlight” is ahead of “Hell or High Water” (which had 32 theaters its first weekend and a $19,400 PTA) and “Eye in the Sky” ($12,100 in 35 in its second).

Not only are these numbers better, they come from a more unconventional break with some of the theaters not as typically responding to specialized films, let alone ones with the potentially more limited appeal of plot and characters. At the mostly African-American audience theaters, it isn’t remotely finding the response of “Precious” a few years ago, but still is getting interest and playing second only to Tyler Perry’s very successful “Boo! A Madea Halloween.”

If there is some limit to the film’s appeal, it’s revealed in the 15% Saturday uptick from Friday. “Hell” was up 22% and “Eye” 73% on its equivalent Saturday. But other factors —this may have a younger appeal (Saturdays thrive more with over 40 audiences) and Halloween (many parties and activities take place on the Saturday before Oct. 31) likely influenced this outcome.

Will “Moonlight” continue to grow and reach the kind of critical mass that could make it a strong crossover film? Too early to say. But the film should continue to show significant interest as it expands to the rest of the top 25 markets next week and is clearly, by a big margin, the standout success of the specialized fall so far.

"The Handmaiden"

“The Handmaiden”


“The Handmaiden” (Magnolia)
$334,282 in 76 theaters (+71); PTA: $4,398; Cumulative: $469,513

Excellent numbers for any specialized second week expansion these days. That they come from a South Korean period drama and at this level of initial increase make them even more impressive. This looks like it could end up at or near the top of 2016 subtitled releases.

American Pastoral” (Lionsgate)
$86,000 in 51 theaters (+1); PTA: $1,686; Cumulative: $293,935

Ewan McGregor’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel hasn’t recovered from its reviews with a second weekend down 42% from its weak initial numbers.

“Michael Moore in Trumpland” (Moore); also available on Video on Demand
$75,000 in 51 theaters (+33); PTA: $1,471; Cumulative: $149,090

After the strong initial Manhattan date (buttressed by the director’s in person appearance) the wider big city expansion of his surprise election-related film did minor theatrical business. Its streaming availability is its main platform, as expected.

“King Cobra” (IFC); also available on Video on Demand
$12,192 in 4 theaters (+3); PTA: $3,048; Cumulative: $29,375

A murder drama within the gay porn world with Christian Slater and James Franco among the cast added Los Angeles and elsewhere in its theater play along with its streaming venues. For a VOD release, these are adequate numbers along with the additional attention these dates give the film. Other major cities add on over the next two weeks.

“The Uncondemned” (Abramorama)
$3,672 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $1,836; Cumulative: $10,424

This Rwanda wartime rape crimes trial film continues to get award-level reviews as it added Los Angeles this week. Despite playing a top theater there, it continues to struggle to get response equal to its acclaim.

“I’m Not Ashamed” (PureFlix)
$440,000 in 516 theaters (+11); PTA: $853; Cumulative: $1,628,000

This faith-based Columbine massacre drama dropped over 50% from its initial figure with continued minor results.

“Tampopo” (Janus) (reissue)
(est.)$20,000 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: (est)$10,000; Cumulative: (est.)$40,000

What is initially the biggest revival arthouse success of the year added Los Angeles this weekend, with Juzo Itami’s 1985 Japanese food-based comedy continuing to find new fans.



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

“Denial” (Bleecker Street) Week 5
$597,590 in 587 theaters (-61);  Cumulative: $2,981,000

Rachel Weisz in the middle of a British libel case with a Holocaust denier continues to lead the wider release limited films. The minor PTA suggests it will keep shedding theaters. But it still could reach the level of several earlier Bleecker Street older-audience serious dramas, such as 2016 hit “Captain Fantastic.”

“The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight) Week 4
$545,000 in 404 theaters (-229);  Cumulative: $15,072,000

Still some interest at some theaters means that despite the overall disappointment there remains some appeal for Nate Parker’s beleaguered film.

“Desierto” (STX) Week 3
$300,000 in 168 theaters (no change);  Cumulative: $1,598,000

Holding to the same theater count, this Gael Garcia Bernal border-crossing drama dropped over 50% in its third weekend. STX has stayed with core Latino market locations to reach this modest gross so far.

“A Man Called Ove” (Music Box) Week 5 98/931
$345,000 in 150 theaters (+52);  Cumulative: $1,276,000

Another sizeable expansion for this Swedish sleeper which by next week will be the biggest arthouse subtitled success of the year (besting “Embrace of the Serpent”). The PTA only dipped slightly despite added theaters and another week at the rest, making this a clear word of mouth-driven success.

“Queen of Katwe” (Disney) Week 6
$281,000 in 238 theaters (-61);  Cumulative: $8,178,000

Continued minor results for Mira Nair’s unlikely chess champion biofilm.

“Certain Women” (IFC) Week 3
$202,500 in 90 theaters (+46);  Cumulative: $486,275

None of Kelly Reichardt’s several previously acclaimed films (including “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff”) has passed the million dollar mark. Her latest, also getting strong critical response, could be headed to that level with the widest and earliest expansion. These respectable numbers suggest decent word of mouth and likely holds at most of these theaters and some further growth ahead.

“Priceless” (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$124,425 in 181 theaters (-113);  Cumulative: $1,372,000

This country-flavored faith-based sex trafficking drama isn’t hitting the levels of previous Roadside Attractions-released entries as it fades in its third weekend.

“The Dressmaker” (Broad Green) Week 6
$ 64,861 in 75 theaters (-28);  Cumulative: $1,711,000

Kate Winslet in an awkward Australian homecoming is another Broad Green disappointment as it ends up its run.

“Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate) Week 12
$59,000 in 71 theaters (-16); Cumulative: $26,751,000

Adding to its best-of-2016 so far specialized/indie best gross, the CBS/Lionsgate success still is holding on at a few theaters.

Also noted:

“Miss Hokusai” (GKids) Week 3 – (est.)$38,000 in 55 theaters; Cumulative: $176,000

“No Manches Frida” (Lionsgate) – $37,000 in 53 theaters; Cumulative: $11,513,000

“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” (Abramorama) – $36,566 in 60 theaters; Cumulative: $2,771,000

“Christine” (The Orchard) – $30,325 in 21 (+9) theaters; Cumulative: $108,242

“American Honey” (A24) – (est.)$24,000 in 50; Cumulative: (est.)$593,000

“Don’t Think Twice” (The Film Arcade) – $19,111 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $4,362,000

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