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‘A Fantastic Woman’ Opens Well as Oscar-Nominated Titles Thrive at Specialty Box Office

"Lady Bird," "The Shape of Water," and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" continue to rule the specialized box office.

“A Fantastic Woman”

“Darkest Hour,” “The Shape of Water,” “Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Lady Bird” have now each grossed over $40 million. That places them at or above “The Big Sick,” which for months was the year’s top specialized film release. After their initial boost post nominations, all dropped this weekend; that’s normal. But several have more life in them yet.

Super Bowl Weekend, and the lack of new titles doing much business, helped create both screen space and audience attention, but most of their performance comes from the films’ own strengths.

Among new titles, Best Foreign Language Film contender “A Fantastic Woman” scored as the best limited opener of the year so far. It opened the same day as Netflix debuted Hungarian “On Body and Soul,” nominated in the same category. It skipped theatrical play and, unlike their contenders “Mudbound” and “Icarus” in other categories, Netflix is not running “for your consideration” ads.

Opening

A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 89; Festivals include: Berlin, Telluride, Toronto 2017

$70,978 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,196

After a one-week qualifying run in November, this Chilean Oscar nominee returned to five theaters in New York and Los Angeles to encouraging initial results. This drama about a transgender woman dealing with her partner’s sudden death opened with a little more than the best weekend for SPC’s “Toni Erdmann” just over a year ago. The numbers fell short of rival “The Square” (PTA $18,500 last fall) and last year’s winner “The Salesman” ($24,000), both in fewer theaters. Of note: This did not play in New York’s recently closed Lincoln Plaza Theater, usually the top grosser for similar films, and also didn’t benefit from opening-day newspaper reviews

What comes next: This should be available for viewing in the Top 10 markets by Oscar weekend.

Abbas Kiarostami 24 Frames

24 Frames

24 Frames (Janus) – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: Cannes, London 2017

$8,610 in 1 theater; PTA: $8,610

Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s final effort, a rigorous but contemplative tone poem of 24 separate images in natural settings, opened at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center on limited seats. With strong reviews, this cinephile appealing title did a respectable initial gross.

What comes next: Niche big city bookings should follow.

Before We Vanish (Super) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Cannes, New York 2017

$8,142 in 2 theaters; PTA: $4,071

Veteran Japanese genre director Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns with a science-fiction alien story, with mixed results in two New York/Los Angeles dates.

What comes next: Apart from upcoming theaters, this should find interest via streaming ahead.

Week Two

Have a Nice Day (Strand)    1-18

$_est.) 13,000 in 4 theaters (+3); PTA: $(est.) 3,250; Cumulative: $(est.) 31,000

This Chinese animated title, a politically tinged expose of business world corruption, added three theaters including Los Angeles with results somewhat below its strong initial New York exclusive.

“The Post”

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

The Post (20th Century Fox) Week 7

$5,200,000 in 2,462 theaters (-178); Cumulative: $67,185,000

Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers retelling will soon overtake “Bridge of Spies” as the top grossing of his three most recent films. It also is the top Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep performer among their last three and four releases, respectively. It dropped 43 percent, more than other contenders, with an ultimate domestic take a little over $80 million likely.

“The Shape of Water”

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$4,300,000 in 2,341 theaters (+487); Cumulative: $44,580,000

Guillermo del Toro’s DGA win adds to its Oscar frontrunner status, and the grosses keep rolling in. The theater count puts this as the highest for Searchlight since “Black Swan” seven years ago. This continues on a pace to approach $60 million by Oscar night a month from now.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 13

$3,050,000 in 1,726 theaters (+269); Cumulative: $41,814,000

Also adding screens, this longer-playing film (which heads to streaming February 13) continues its strong performance with its widest release yet.

I, Tonya (Neon) Week 9

$2,556,000 in 1,450 theaters (+490); Cumulative: $22,640,000

With its widest position yet, the Tonya Harding story barely missed the Top 10 and looks like it should continue to perform well leading up to the Oscars.

Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 11

$2,420,000 in 1,456 theaters (+486); Cumulative: $48,843,000

Joe Wright’s latest, with Gary Oldman cruising to his first Oscar, continues its position as top grosser among the specialized-company contenders (a position that will be challenged by “The Shape of Water”) with more runs added to boost its total.

"Phantom Thread"

“Phantom Thread”

Photo : Laurie Sparham / Focus Features

Phantom Thread (Focus) Week 6

$2,140,000 in 1,186 theaters (+165); Cumulative: $14,174,000

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest fell a bit more than most of the wide-playing contenders while adding theaters. But by next weekend, it will have out grossed both “Inherent Vice” and “The Master,” his two most recent titles.

Lady Bird (A24) Week 14

$1,360,000 in 1,109 theaters (-63); Cumulative: $43,733,000

Now in its fourth month, Greta Gerwig’s breakout comedy still is finding sustained interest.

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11

$1,001,000 in 581 theaters (-284); Cumulative: $12,941,000

After shedding most of the low-grossing theaters, the per-theater average rose for those remaining. That gives this multi-category Oscar nominee a chance to sustain a continued run.

The Insult

The Insult (Cohen) Week 4

$118,995 in 36 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $237,370

As a subtitled film opens wider, a PTA of over $3,000 is above average these days. This Lebanese courtroom drama’s Oscar nomination is a strong asset, but it also seems to be getting decent word of mouth to boost it.

Mary and the Witch’s Hour (GKids) Week 3

$57,002 in 30 theaters (-47); Cumulative: $1,896,000

The remaining runs for this Japanese animated film are holding well. Most of this film’s gross came from a one-day Fathom event at hundreds of theaters.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$54,407 in 34 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $314,635

New openings for this story of Gloria Grahame’s late-in-life affair remain spotty. Annette Bening fell short of a hoped-for Best Actress nomination, taking the steam out of this.

The Disaster Artist (A24) Week 10

$50,714 in 65 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $21,000,000

James Franco’s lack of an Oscar nomination leaves his film topping out at a decent $21 million, with little gross left to add.

Also noted:

The Florida Project (A24) – $47,190 in 38 theaters; Cumulative: $5,734,000; also streaming

In the Fade (Magnolia) – $(est.) 45,000 in 31 theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 204,000

Faces Places (Cohen)  – $11,776 in 21 theaters; Cumulative: $771,000

The Breadwinner (GKids) – $11,077 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $: $271,037

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