At the specialty box office, reviews can have a huge impact. This weekend, “The Book of Henry” (Focus Features), Colin Trevorrow’s return to indie films, was scorched by critics and summoned only a mediocre start in 579 theaters ($1.4 million). On the other hand, the best per-theater-average came from “Hare Krishna” (Abramorama), a documentary the New York Times, normally critical in launching any specialized release, chose not to include among its reviews. It managed over $21,000 in one Manhattan theater.
While IFC’s Northern Ireland political story “The Journey” also delivered a surprisingly strong New York opening, the most encouraging news of the weekend was the impressive expansion for “Beatriz at Dinner” (Roadside Attractions).
The Book of Henry (Focus) – Metacritic: 28
$1,407,000 in 579 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $2,431
Trevorrow broke out with Sundance indie “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which grossed a healthy $4 million, followed by blockbuster “Jurassic World.” This anemic personal project will be followed by “Star Wars: Episode IX”).
He should hope that these are likely to be the worst reviews he’ll ever receive (it ranks lower than “The Mummy,” the current “Pirates” and “Baywatch”) with a nationwide release and elevated marketing pushing its genre-bending child-centered thriller story.
Focus opened “The Zookeeper’s Wife” to $3.4 million despite lukewarm reviews. Both films featured prime actresses to attract attention (Jessica Chastain in the earlier film, Naomi Watts here).
Focus reports favorable response from a largely female and older audience, which is more likely to pay attention to reviews. Its four per cent Saturday rise from Friday is low for an older-skewing film, which suggests we need to wait for next weekend to determine how ticket buyers are reacting.
What comes next: The distributor’s commitment to the film will be tested; it needs to hold steady next weekend to go much further.
Hare Krishna: The Mantra, The Movement and the Swami Who Started It All (Abramorama) – Festivals include: Illuminate 2017
$21,473 in 1 theater; PTA: $21,473
Oddly, the best single theater specialized opener of the week didn’t even get reviewed by the New York Times (which has lately become less comprehensive). The documentary profiles an Indian-emigre swami who arrived 50 years ago to become a major force in the spread of Hare Krishna in this country.
Showing again that niche audiences and marketing can be one way to succeed in a difficult market, Abramorama found the right formula to launch an otherwise little noticed (virtually no festival play) film. With interest in the spiritual movement nationwide, expect to see similar results going forward
What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with its subject lending its release to a blend of full week and special event showings ahead.
Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto 2016, Berlin 2017
$79,405 in 24 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,309; Cumulative: $2,667,000
Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, veterans of multiple earlier SPC hits, have earned rave reviews for their performances in this Irish-Canadian four-hankie biopic about a late-blooming Nova Scotia folk artist and her taciturn husband. Already a major hit in Canada, the drama opened in New York and Los Angeles in four theaters with a gross of $49,842, $12,461 per location. This is below the numbers shown for SPC’s recent “Paris Can Wait” and “Norman,” but is decent enough to suggest it could find an interested audience as it expands in upcoming weeks.
What comes next: Three more cities open this Friday as this expands
The Journey (IFC) – Metacritic: 51; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2016, San Francisco, Seattle 2017
$34,364 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $17,182
A surprisingly strong opening in the context of mixed reviews for this mostly two-hander featuring imagined dialogue between the two main political figures in the Protestant Unionist/Irish Republican Army dispute. Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney play the two long-time opponents. This played at two prime locations in Manhattan initially, which boosted the film though above most recent openings at the theaters. This could be another example of targeted success, with the New York area home to many Irish nationals and interest in the subject strong. Whatever the reasons, it’s an initial success.
What comes next: A rapid expansion, with 50 cities in the next two weeks.
Moka (Film Movement) – Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Locarno 2016, Seattle 2017
$8,100 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $8,1oo; Cumulative: $10,534
Showing some interest among French film lovers (though its origin is Swiss), this thriller about the mother of a hit and run victim pursuing the driver involved stars two veteran actresses (Emmanuelle Devos and Natalie Baye) to add to the appeal. This is not a bad opening, particularly looking at the five-day figure, for a subtitled opener these days.
What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday.
Lost in Paris (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Telluride 2016, Palm Springs 2017
$4,500 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $4,500
Starring the late great Emmanuelle Riva (above), in her second-to-last role as an aunt living in Paris who is visited by Canadian country dwellers.The comedy opened at New York’s Sunshine Theater to modest response.
What comes next: Los Angeles opens on July 7, with other top cities the following week.
Il Boom (Rialto)
$8,700 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $8,700
This 1963 film from Vittorio De Sica (“The Bicycle Thief,” “The Garden of the Finzi Continis”) isn’t a reissue — technically this is its initial American release. Starring the great Alberto Sordi, this comedy was made between two major successes for De Sica – “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and “Marriage – Italian Style” — yet somehow fell through the cracks at the time, when Italian films were the biggest draw in arthouses (today they are rarely released theatrically stateside). This opened at New York’s Film Forum to decent interest.
What comes next: Los Angeles opens in July with other cities to follow.
Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside Attractions)
$715,047 in 77 theaters (+72); PTA: $9,286; Cumulative: $921,075
Excellent expansion for Miguel Arteta’s timely drama about a Latina physical therapist encountering a range of wealthy people after car troubled leaves her stranded. As the initial dates suggested, this looks like it has both staying power and crossover potential,
My Cousin Rachel (Fox Searchlight)
$535,000 in 531 theaters (+8); PTA: $1,008; Cumulative: $1,979,000
Three figures tell the story about this Rachel Weisz’-starring remake of the classic 1952 gothic thriller from Daphne de Maurier’s novel. First, the 45 per cent drop with a steady theater count (high for an older adult drama, where response often takes longer to generate) and a per theater average of only $1,000. And it grossed significantly less than “Beatriz at Dinner” despite at nine times as many theaters. Both suggest a short shelf-life despite the high pedigree of all involved.
The Hero (The Orchard)
$135,646 in 26 theaters (+22); PTA: $5,024; Cumulative: $195,539
Sam Elliott continues to get strong reviews in this story of a veteran Western actor coming to terms with his life. It had a particularly strong Saturday increase, which suggests it is reaching its intended older audience.
Expanding/ongoing (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)
Paris Can Wait (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$743,751 in 447 theaters (+271); Cumulative: $3,226,000
The one recent opener to show much traction as it widens, this Eleanor Coppola-directed Diane Lane vehicle looks to keep growing to a level considerably ahead of this number so far.
Churchill (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$(est.) 80,000 in 60 theaters (-77); Cumulative: $(est.) 908,000
Brian Cox’s portrayal of the Prime Minister shows, similar to “My Cousin Rachel,” that high-class British dramas are no longer automatic successes with upscale audiences. Perhaps a sign of the Netflix effect, where similar fare is regularly available?
The Women’s Balcony (Menemsha) Week 16
$87,157 in 27 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $505,053
This Israeli drama, first released in South Florida, then in the Los Angeles area before reaching New York, is finding some significant traction. Its per theater average actually increased despite almost doubling its theater count, a rare event. This is a clear sign of growing word of mouth and case of once again targeted marketing at niche audiences working,
Gifted (Fox Searchlight) Week 11
$65,000 in 100 theaters (-62); Cumulative: $24,416,000
This big success for Fox Searchlight continues to add to its impressive total.
Dean (CBS) Week 3
$(est.) 57,500 in 83 theaters (+51); Cumulative: $(est.) 202,000
Demetri Martin’s comedy about a father and son coping with their mutual loss added theaters in its third week to minimal response.
The Wedding Plan (Roadside Attractions) Week 6
$51,945 in 54 theaters (-51); Cumulative: $1,296,000
The other Israeli film in release has had much wider play than “The Woman’s Balcony” and looks like it could still reach $1 million.
The Exception (A24) – $41,361 in 14 theaters; Cumulative: $91,343
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (Sony Pictures Classics) – $32,940 in 45 theaters; Cumulative: $3,736,000
Band Aid (IFC) – $36,480 in 24 theaters; Cumulative: $119,363; also available on Video on Demand