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‘Battle of the Sexes’ and ‘Victoria & Abdul’ Launch Fall Wave; ‘Loving Vincent’ Shows Animated Start

The fall season begins as festival buzz pushes new awards entries into the crowded specialty market.

Battle of the Sexes Emma Stone

“Battle of the Sexes”

The fall specialized season ratcheted up with a group of top festival releases starting their theatrical release with later awards in their sights. As expected, well-reviewed “The Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight) stood out as the top performer in a week without much other signs of life from holdovers (IFC’s “The Viceroy’s House” is the best of a weak bunch).

In two initial cities, Judi Dench showed her royal form in Stephen Frears’ “Victoria & Abdul” (Focus) with the weekend’s best per theater average, while “Stronger” (Roadside Attractions) saw some success in a much wider limited release.

The upstart was “Loving Vincent” (Good Deed), which unexpectedly came up with a $24,000 exclusive New York opening. This rare animated arthouse release (using Van Gogh “painted” animation to tell its narrative) could be a sleeper success within this uber-competitive period.

Opening

The Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Toronto 2017

$525,000 in 21 theaters; PTA: $25,000

The most impressive limited opening of the week drew wide interest in seven markets rather than just the top two. The Emma Stone/Steve Carell retelling of the 1973 Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match premiered in Toronto with decent reviews and a strong push for younger female interest with strong initial results. Saturday saw a good uptick from Friday, suggesting positive response.

What comes next: A very quick expansion to over 1,000 theaters this Friday.

Judi Dench victoria and abdul

“Victoria and Abdul”

Screenshot/Focus Features

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto 2017

$151,732 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $37,933

The leader among per theater averages this weekend, with a strong initial performance in New York and Los Angeles, is a continuing testament to the appeal of Dame Judi Dench who plays Queen Victoria (again) in Frears’ latest charming period comedy, which overcame mixed reviews. She and Frears made Friday in person appearances in Los Angeles, which boosted the gross that day, but New York increases suggest initial positive word of mouth.

What comes next: The first wave of the expansion includes a total of around 75 theaters this Friday.

Tatiana Maslanay and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Stronger"

“Stronger”

Stronger (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Toronto 2017

$1,748,000 in 574 theaters; PTA: $3,045

The David Gordon Green film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Boston Marathon bombing victim rode loud Toronto buzz into the Top Ten (#9) in only 574 theaters, and saw a 34 per cent jump on its second day, a positive sign. Roadside frequently eschews more limited releases and has in the past seen similar theater counts openings in the $2-3 million range. But in a more crowded play period for specialized films, “Stronger” goes against several successful wide releases. And it follows Peter Berg’s similar “Patriots Day” from CBS Films less than a year ago, which makes this initial result — including an A- Cinemascore –even more impressive.

What comes next: A small jump to around 650 theaters is planned for this week.

"Loving Vincent"

“Loving Vincent”

Courtesy of the filmmakers

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2017

$24,304 in 1 theater; PTA: $24,304

A surprisingly strong result for this creative original take on Van Gogh’s last days. With animated renderings of his paintings brought to life to give a speculative take on the conflicts in his life, this gained attention from fans of the renowned Dutch Impressionist (who has been the subject of multiple previous films) despite mixed reviews and independent distribution from a little known company. It opened at Manhattan’s prime Lincoln Plaza Theater, which saw one of its better opening weekends of the year.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday.

Unrest (Shella) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest 2017

$10,700 in 1 theater; PTA: $10,700

This Sundance premiered and supported documentary, in which director Jennifer Brea chronicles her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, opened at New York’s IFC Center to a respectable initial total.

What comes next: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago add on this week.

“Bobbi Jene”

Oscilloscope Laboratories

Bobbi Jene (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Tribeca, Hot Docs 2017

$7,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,500

Elvira Lind’s lauded documentary centering on the price artists pay to push their art to exciting new places (an American modern dancer returns home to perform her own nakedly emotional choreography after acclaim in Israel) won multiple jury prizes at Tribeca and had a decent initial gross in New York.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens on October 6.

"Brad's Status"

“Brad’s Status”

Week Two

Brad’s Status (Annapurna)

$1,001,000 in 453 theaters (+449); PTA: $2,210; Cumulative: $1,114,000

Modest second weekend quick expansion for this Amazon pickup of Mike White’s midlife overview as a divorced father (Ben Stiller) takes his son on a college tour. Saturday had a decent increase over Friday, which suggests the chance for more positive future results as word of mouth builds. The results, however, fall below the early stages of Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” Stiller’s last limited release (that 2015 entry rose to $7.6 million).

Frederick Wiseman Ex Libris

“Ex Libris”

Ex-Libris: The New York Public Library (Zipporah)

$18,250 in 4 theaters (+3); PTA: $4,563; Cumulative: $42,451

Holding very well in New York while adding Los Angeles and Washington, Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary continues to garner acclaim and decent results. Its three-hour-plus length and subject matter make the interest so far even more impressive.

Viceroy's House

“Viceroy’s House”

Screenshot/Pathe

On going/expanding (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

Viceroy’s House (IFC) Week 4

$201,287 in 121 theaters (+12); Cumulative: $746,008

The grosses aren’t spectacular, but this recounting of the last hours of the British Raj in India is holding well in still limited play to lead the list of holdovers.

The Big Sick (Lions Gate) Week 14; also available on Video on Demand and home video

$114,000 in 122 theaters (-216); Cumulative: $42,715

Still raking in late run money despite its release to home viewing media this week.

“Rebel in the Rye”

Rebel in the Rye (IFC) Week 3

$82,323 in 81 theaters (+32); Cumulative: $265,172

This biopic on J.D. Salinger is making at best minor impact as it expands.

Columbus (Superlative) Week 8

$80,222 in 57 theaters (-4); Cumulative: $751,417

The wider than expected release of this true independent film (the filmmaker is overseeing its distribution) continues to see positive results. The story stars John Cho in an offbeat encounter in an Indiana city between two strangers and looks headed to a $1 million total.

Dolores (PBS) Week 4

$70,125 in 27 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $257,480

This documentary about the woman organizer who was at Cesar Chavez’s side during the California farm workers’ dispute in the 1960s continues to expand, still with respectable results that could help raise its awareness in upcoming awards consideration.

Also noted:

Beach Rats (Neon) – $39,405 in theaters; Cumulative: $392,503

The Unknown Girl (IFC) – $28,538 in theaters; Cumulative: $92,102

Ingrid Goes West (Neon) – $25,952 in 50 theaters; Cumulative: $2,975,000

California Typewriter (Gravitas Ventures) – $23,479 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $162,591

Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics) – $23,252 in 44 theaters; Cumulative: $6,118,000

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