Thanks to two stars named Rachel — Weisz and McAdams — “Disobedience” led a batch of new films from arthouse auteurs this weekend. This story of forbidden love in a London synagogue setting, like director Sebastián Lelio’s Oscar-winning “A Fantastic Woman,” deals with gay characters fighting for their right to love despite societal taboos. It doubles the opening numbers of any film from Bleecker Street.
Claire Denis’ “Let the Sunshine In” (IFC) also opened unexpectedly strong in New York. But “Mustang” director Deniz Gamze Erguven’s English-language debut “Kings,” and “Duck Butter,” Miguel Arteta’s follow-up to “Beatriz at Dinner,” saw much less impact.
Among holdovers, “Isle of Dogs” (Fox Searchlight) is wrapping up its national run as it heads to a decent $30 million total. “Disobedience” shows the need for fresh titles to feed the hungry specialized audience.
Disobedience (Bleecker Street) Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Toronto 2017, Tribeca 2018
$241,276 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $48,255
This strong opening for the first English-language film for Chilean director Sebastián Lelio — second to “Isle of Dogs” among limited openers this year — comes shortly after his “A Fantastic Woman” won the Foreign Language Oscar. Made in Britain, this gay romance in a conservative Jewish religious world (similar to well-received “Foxtrot” and “Menashe”) continues his interest in female characters (see “Gloria”). Intensive marketing and Q and As also built interest. Strong interest for the film projects to a much potential ahead.
What comes next: 21 theaters in eight additional markets add to the initial New York/Los Angeles dates this Friday.
Let the Sunshine In (IFC) Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Cannes, New York, AFI 2017; also available on Video on Demand
$40,267 in 2 theaters; PTA: $20,133
Veteran director Claire Denis (“Beau Travail”) returns with Juliette Binoche supported by a who’s-who of French actors. This drama of an older woman juggling multiple men opened in two New York theaters to strong results — especially for a subtitled film — and received good reviews and help from some personal appearances. But on its own the film shows that with the right elements a French film can still make an initial splash to urban sophisticates.
What comes next: Along with its limited (iTunes not included) premium price video on demand sites, this opens in Los Angeles this week, with additional cities scheduled, including support from Landmark Theatres.
Kings (The Orchard) Metacritic: 34; Festivals include: Toronto 2017
$173,113 in 218 theaters; PTA: $809
Deniz Gamze Erguven, another acclaimed director with success in the tricky subtitled market (her French-Turkish “Mustang” was a recent Oscar nominee), makes her English language debut with this story of a sprawling South Los Angeles family struggling to survive the 1992 uprising. Despite stars Halle Berry and Daniel Craig, bad reviews after the Toronto premiere doomed this national release. A majority of screens grossed under $1,000.
What comes next: The cast will draw later home viewing interest.
Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Duck Butter (The Orchard) Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Tribeca 2018
$3,360 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,680
Veteran Miguel Arteta (who had some success with “Beatriz at Dinner” last year) returns with this improvisational comedy about a very passionate young couple who hook up. It premiered after its Tribeca Festival premiere in New York and Los Angeles to a small gross.
What comes next: This looks to have limited theatrical chances, but should gain some home viewing attention.
Ghost Stories (IFC) (also available on Video on Demand)
$28,032 in 12 theaters (+11); PTA: $2,336; Cumulative: $45,128
This acclaimed British horror anthology added more cities parallel to its home viewing availability.
Godard Mon Amour (Cohen)
$14,747 in 17 theaters (+13); PTA: $867; Cumulative: $31,912
Fifty years after these events in the career of the great New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard –and just before his latest film debuts in competition at Cannes– this film from “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius expanded to minor response.
After Auschwitz (Passion River)
$14,331 in 11 theaters (+9); PTA: $1,303; Cumulative: $26,000
This documentary, which relates the stories of six female Holocaust survivors and their lives after their unspeakable trauma, added five markets after its New York debut last week to modest results. Los Angeles and San Francisco are among new cities this weekend.
The Devil and Father Armoth (The Orchard) (also available on Video on Demand) 8-11
$2,543 in 6 theaters (+4); PTA: $424; Cumulative: $13,432
Streaming was added this week, where most of the viewing will be for William Friedkin’s documentary return to the world of exorcisms.
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 6
$1,400,000 in 1,001 theaters (-946); Cumulative: $27,021,000
Wes Anderson’s second animated feature has now past the gross of his earlier “Fantastic Mr. Fox” which grossed $25,200,000 (adjusted) in 2009. And it did that without the year end holiday boost “Fox” received.
You Were Never Really Here (Amazon) Week 3
$351,831 in 233 theaters (+50); Cumulative: $1,795,000
Amazon has pushed Lynne Ramsay’s acclaimed drama with Joaquin Phoenix out to theaters nationwide. The tough subject matter looks to be limiting the response with further expansion leading to diminished results.
Beirut (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$257,779 in 237 theaters (-518); Cumulative: $4,502,000
Jon Hamm’s latest leading role in this Mideast hostage rescue drama is fading fast with a mid-level wide release looking to come in around $5 million.
Lean On Pete (A24) Week 4
$240,380 in 167 theaters (+98); Cumulative: $665,110
The first American film from Andrew Haigh (“45 Years”) is getting a nationwide art house release. The response so far has been modest for this coming-of-age story of a teenager who finds purpose when he bonds with a horse.
The Death of Stalin (IFC) Week 8
$210,478 in 150 theaters (-60); Cumulative: $7,203,000
Political/historical satire, particularly for events over 60 years ago in a foreign setting, is not an easy sell. That makes the total for this imagining of how the Soviet tyrant’s demise went down even more impressive. This didn’t achieve (nor was expected to) the crossover appeal of some recent specialized successes, but has more than doubled the result of “Veep” director Armando Iannucci’s earlier contemporary American-set “In the Loop.”
The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$188,338 in 37 theaters (+28); Cumulative: $357,672
Chloe Zhao’s heartland portrait is gaining traction as it widens. Though its average theater is grossing around a quarter of “The Death of Stalin” at around the same number of venues, it saw a healthy Saturday increase and some signs that word of mouth will sustain this as it expands further to a decent result.
Courtesy of Roadside Attractions
Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions) Week 5
$123,790 in 102 theaters (-89); Cumulative: $1,158,000
This middle-age English romantic comedy looks to be on its last legs.
The Leisure Seeker (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 17
$104,759 in 117 theaters (-6); Cumulative: $2,890,000
Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland’s RV road trip, now entering its fifth months, keeps rolling along as it approaches $3 million.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Kino Lorber) – $41,059 in theaters; Cumulative: $182,432
Final Portrait (Sony Pictures Classics) – $37,620 in 69 theaters; Cumulative: $374,721
Izthak (Greenwich) – $34,620 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $383,105
1945 (Menemsha) – $32,295 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $604,160
Back to Burgundy (Music Box) – $13,760 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $186,116