This year’s award season continues to yield a robust specialized bounty. The Oscar contenders are led by “La La Land” (Lionsgate) and “Hidden Figures” (20th Century Fox). The public, particularly older audiences, are coming out in big numbers for films that launched in limited release.
That doesn’t extend to new limited openings, with nearly all top distributors holding back until the awards noise dies down. Still, a few are venturing out with smaller less heralded films in New York (along with a plethora of Video on Demand releases). This week sees three of note, led by a very surprising total for “World’s Apart” (Cinema Libre), an under-the-radar 2015 Greek economic crisis drama.
(All figures for three-day weekend through Sunday January 15.)
Worlds Apart (Cinema Libre)
$14,000 gross at 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $14,000
This Greek film, which tells three loosely related stories about the country’s economic collapse and its impact on ordinary people, stars J.K. Simmons as a German. It opened with little notice (and no New York Times review) at Manhattan’s Village East Theater, and is headed to a strong initial gross, with Saturday only slightly down from Friday. It’s an oddity, to be sure, but with a major Los Angeles theater ahead, this is getting significant support.
What comes next: This opens at the Arclight Hollywood this Friday.
Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past (First Run) – Festivals include: Manchester 16
$(est.) 6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $(est.) 6,500
Jazz bandleader Giordano doubles as a pre-swing era historian and arrangement collector, all recounted in this documentary. It opened in one Manhattan location to respectable numbers for a small-scale release. This shows once again the continued interest in documentaries about performers.
What comes next: The heaviest interest could be in New York.
Son of Joseph (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Berlin, New York 2016
$(est.) 2,750 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $(est.) 2,750
Kino Lorber’s well-reviewed, niche festival favorite from longtime French ex-pat Eugene Green opened to respectable numbers at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center. Green’s previous similarly acclaimed “La Sapienza” (also Kino Lorber) managed to amass $135,000.
What comes next: Upcoming scheduled dates over the next several weeks are mostly at top-end limited specialized locations, including museums and calendar theaters.
Also available on Video on Demand
Claire in Motion (Breaking Glass/South by Southwest 16) – $(est.) 4,500 in 9 theaters
Alone in Berlin (IFC/Berlin) – $(est.) 7,500 in 2 theaters
The Book of Love (Electric Entertainment/Tribeca 16) – $(est.) 9,000 in 13 theaters
Guatamiputra Satakarni (Indin/India) – $(est.) 800,000 in 129 theaters
Ok Jaanu (20th Century Fox) – $244,000 IN 121 theaters
Some Like It Hot (China Lion/China) – $(est.) 40,000 in 10 theaters
(Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)
Silence (Paramount) Week 4
$1,940,000 in 747 theaters (+696); Cumulative: $3,022,000
Even with full support from Paramount, Martin Scorsese’s Japan-set missionary epic is reaching only limited audiences. It didn’t even making the top 15. The usually commercially successful director traveled this path with “Kundun” 19 years ago. With a similar Christmas platform and mid-January expansion, that gross, adjusting to current ticket prices, was almost $3 million (fifty per cent better) in far fewer (439) theaters. Short of a major boost from long- shot Oscar nominations, this won’t stick around for long.
Lion (Weinstein) Week 8
$2,256,000 in 575 theaters (-25); Cumulative: $13,299,000
With director Garth Davis’s surprise Directors Guild nomination, all systems are go for Oscar contention for this tale of an adoptee searching for his Indian mother. Its gross actually increased despite a drop in theaters. That suggests strong word of mouth and successful positioning for the film going into the nominations. This movie is outpacing and should well exceed the total gross of “Carol” ($12 million domestic), Weinstein’s 2015 specialized Oscar contender.
Manchester By the Sea (Roadside Attractions) Week 9
$1,745,000 in 726 theaters (-331); Cumulative: $36,906,000
After Casey Affleck’s Golden Globe Best Actor win, despite a significant drop in theaters, the Amazon movie came back with another decent result. The grosses are already over $35 million pre-Oscar nominations.
Moonlight (A24) Week 13
$1,104,000 in 582 theaters (+447); Cumulative: $14,603,000
Coming off its Golden Globe Best Film/Drama win, Barry Jenkins’ top awards contender returned to a wider group of theaters and added to its impressive totals. The figure is way above the same company’s “Room” last year, also released in October, which had grossed $6 million by this point (in narrower release). Already in release close to 90 days, it will be interesting to see what A24’s will do to maximize Oscar nominations ahead.
Photo by William Gray. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Jackie (Fox Searchlight) Week 7
$715,000 in 353 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $10,468,000
Pablo Larrain’s biopic continues to add gross, although it’s off about 30 per cent. With Best Actress contender Natalie Portman and possibly other Oscar nominations, this is significantly ahead of “Room” last year, which went on to win the Oscar for Brie Larson.
Elle (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10
$314,471 in 209 theaters (+173); Cumulative: $1,379,000
SPC capitalized on Isabelle Huppert’s surprise Golden Globe Best Actress/Drama win with a major expansion. The PTA is modest ($1,500), but it still has propelled Paul Verhoeven’s French erotic thriller to one of the top grosses among art house subtitled 2016 releases. More will come should she get an Oscar nod.
20th Century Women (A24) Week 3
$307,571 in 29 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $751,219
Mike Mills’ ’70s Santa Barbara story added top cities this weekend to results about the same as A24’s “Room” expansion last year. The gamble is that in an intensely competitive field, Annette Bening will score a Best Actress nomination.
Julieta (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4
$132,345 in 29 theaters (+12); Cumulative: $516,158
Pedro Almodovar’s latest is now around the level of his previous “I’m So Excited” in its early stages, which is an improvement over its initial results. Though it won’t be an Oscar nominee, it could be benefiting from both the maestro’s long-time auteur appeal and the lack of new films in prime initial big city art house dates.
Paterson (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$95,287 in 14 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $355,899
Continued modest results for Jim Jarmusch’s quiet film with Adam Driver as a poetry-writing bus driver. Amazon’s production continues to get terrific reviews but is not yet nabbing equivalent audience interest.
The Eagle Huntress (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$92,393 in 82 theaters (-12); Cumulative: $2,610,000
Even before its possible Oscar nomination, this Central Asian tribal tale is getting close to reaching the top number among art house documentaries among 2016 releases.
Nocturnal Animals (Focus) Week 9
$70,745 in 54 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $10,561,000
Tom Ford’s literary thriller could see a rebound with some better than expected awards results, but at the moment it is treading water waiting for the Oscar nominations.
Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics) – $40,966 in 7 theaters; Cumulative: $216,816
Neruda (The Orchard) – $40,785 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $267,576
Loving (Focus) – $28,590 in 41 theaters; Cumulative: $7,652,000