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‘I, Tonya’ is a Hit for Neon, While A24 Thrives With ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘Lady Bird’

Upstart distributor Neon made a big bet when it paid $5 million for "I, Tonya" at Toronto, and it's paying off.

I Tonya Margot Robbie

“I, Tonya”


Over the last six weekends, six new specialized releases have opened to a per-theater average of over $60,000. “I, Tonya” is the latest, and comes at a time when seats at prime theaters are at a premium.

Still, it isn’t necessarily a bad weekend to open. Last year, “La La Land” launched to $881,000 in five theaters, a nearly $170,000-per-theater result. But it had far less competition, ecstatic reviews, top stars, and signs of early appeal that propelled it to over $100 million and much more worldwide.

This year has more strong titles; even better, most show early success with wider audiences. “The Disaster Artist” expanded quickly in its second weekend to place #4 overall, while A24 had a second Top 10 hit again with “Lady Bird.” That film, coming off critics’ group wins, is thriving and easily the leader among fall releases so far. In fact, it already is the second-biggest specialized release of the year in only six weeks, trailing only “The Big Sick.”

“The Shape of Water” in a strong second weekend gives Fox Searchlight, similar to A24, its second breakout initial limited release along with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” The more limited “Call Me By Your Name,” though expanding more slowly, is showing strong interest.

Not reported here are one-week qualifying runs for the mostly acclaimed “Foxtrot,” which is playing for seven days in New York and Los Angeles.


I, Tonya (Neon) — Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Toronto, AFI 2017
$245,602 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $61,400

Excellent opening for this look at the infamous mid-’90s figure skating rivalry involving Tonya Harding. Opening in theaters already crowded with other top limited films, it’s getting good but not quite as ecstatic reviews as some other recent releases (though Margot Robbie is getting consistent praise). It’s an impressive breakout for Neon — even more so at short notice, since they acquired this three months ago at Toronto. (30 West partnered for the acquisition, reported for around $5 million, the biggest sale of the festival).

This had a nine percent Saturday increase, which suggests a good initial response. With all the strong films in play, it likely also saw the gross reduced a bit by limited seating with some sold-out shows. It’s a tough market at the moment, but the film hits its initial marks and then some.

What comes next: The major expansion will be January, where this could be a crossover success based on initial results.

"The Disaster Artist"

“The Disaster Artist”

Week Two

The Disaster Artist (A24)
$6,436,000 in 840 theaters (+821); PTA: $7,661; Cumulative: $8,032,000

James Franco’s homage to the making of cult film “The Room” made a major leap to a national result with strong results. At #4 overall, it’s the biggest single-weekend gross for any A24 title (past successes have included “Ex Machina” and “Spring Breakers,” as well as “Moonlight”) as well as their highest position in any Top 10.

Based on second-day results (down 17 percent, not unusual for a younger-appeal film with strong initial interest), this might not yet be a draw for important older specialized viewers. For now, it’s been a remarkable success with plenty of upside ahead.

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight)
$1,100,000 in 41 theaters (+39); PTA: $26,829; Cumulative: $1,331,000

The second weekend of Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy monster romance, aided by its initial Los Angeles dates including Q&As at key theaters, finds it flying high. The numbers come in roughly just lower than the second weekend of Greta Gerwig’s breakout “Lady Bird” (which had far less competition and no pre-holiday doldrums to worry about), and about equal to “Manchester By the Sea.”

These are strong overall results, placing #1 at most of its theaters, including both in Los Angeles (the Arclight is heading to close to $200,000 for the weekend). Overall grosses went up a bit Saturday — not automatic with its younger appeal, and since del Toro’s strong fanbase comes out early.

Wonder Wheel

“Wonder Wheel”

Wonder Wheel (Amazon)

$155,805 in 47 theaters (+42); PTA: $3,315; Cumulative: $321,984

Woody Allen’s latest is struggling against\ competition as well as consensus mediocre reviews. At slightly more theaters, the per-theater gross is little more than 10 percent of “The Shape of Water” in its second-weekend expansion.

The Other Side of Hope (Janus)

$(est.) 27,000 in 17 theaters (+14); PTA: $(est.) 1,588; Cumulative: $(est.) 52,000

Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki’s latest added other top cities to marginal results as it continues to amass strong reviews.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Lady Bird (A24) Week 6
$3,547,000 in 1,557 theaters (+363); Cumulative: $22,331,000

After six weeks, this has already outgrossed all A24 initial limited-release titles, and will top its biggest success (“Moonlight,” $27.8 million) by Christmas. And with likely awards and nominations ahead, it should top that by a wide margin. This weekend also saw it outdo “Three Billboards,” which is also strong — but not as strong as this.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri””

Fox Searchlight

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Fox Searchlight) Week 5 $2,860,000 in 1,620 theaters (+190); Cumulative: $18,310,000

Martin McDonagh’s Ozarks-set satirical drama continues to thrive. It is likely at its widest point, with enough heft to continue at many of its theaters through the lucrative holidays. Though it opened two weeks later, “Three Billboards” is already $4 million ahead of Fox Searchlight’s 2015 “Brooklyn.” That film made $14 million through its second December weekend, on its way to a $38 million total.

Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 3

$777,000 in 53 theaters (+49); Cumulative: $1,232,000

A credible showing for Joe Wright’s film about Churchill at the most crucial point of his political career. With its audience older and not as likely to come out as quickly as some other top titles, this looks to have a decent future ahead.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$687,381 in 720 theaters (+54); Cumulative: $4,325,000

What’s more seasonal than Ebenezer Scrooge? This hasn’t thrived in wider release, but more screens were added this week. Expect continued if lesser play in the weeks ahead.

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$291,101 in nine theaters (+5); Cumulative: $1,372,000

The first expansion for Luca Guadagnino’s acclaimed ’80s Italy-set romance showed continued strength as a wider audience gets its initial exposure. Five additional theaters in New York and Los Angeles continued strong results. More top markets open by Christmas, with a wider rollout planned for mid-January.

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) Week 11
$137,574 in 120 theaters (-43); Cumulative: $5,770,000

This Polish origin animated film keeps adding to its already impressive totals.

“My Friend Dahmer”

My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise) Week 6
$130,000 in 110 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $1,129,000

The cannibal killer’s graphic novel adaptation continues to due steady niche business.

The Florida Project (A24) Week 10
$96,177 in 101 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $5,024,000

Sean Baker’s Orlando-set film continues to build awards momentum. Late in its run, it’s already more than $4 million better than his acclaimed “Tangerine.”

Also noted

Last Flag Flying (Lionsgate) – $47,000 in 85 theaters; Cumulative: $922,966

The Square (Magnolia) – $(est.) 45,000 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,038,000

Jane (Abramorama) – $42,901 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $1,323,000

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) – $41,000 in 104 theaters; Cumulative: $22,125,000

Tom of Finland (Kino Lorber) – $28,600 in 11 theaters; Cumulative: $259,733

Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics) – $23,699 in 90 theaters; Cumulative: $530,867

The Breadwinner (GKids) – $20,074 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $153,181

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Zeitgeist/Kino Lorber) – $19,500 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $72,648

Thelma (The Orchard) – $17,784 in 40 theaters; Cumulative: $108,530

God’s Own Country (Goldwyn) – $12,079 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $279,620

Faces Places (Cohen) – $11,942 in 14 theaters; Cumulative: $541,422

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