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Box Office Breakouts ‘RBG’ and ‘First Reformed’ Hold Strong

Sleeper documentary "RBG" passes the $5 million mark, which was not anticipated going in.



Yet another fashion designer documentary, “The Gospel According to Andre” (Magnolia), stood out among new specialized releases. While Memorial Day Weekend will occasionally launch a major platform release like Terence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” a few years ago, this year’s holiday weekend maintained the norm.

Nonetheless specialized audiences are still searching out top films like Magnolia’s Top Ten $5-million breakout “RBG,” about the octogenarian Supreme Court justice, which continues to thrive at over 400 theaters. Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” (A24) found more interest in its second weekend in a top city expansion as it goes full steam ahead.

Ethan Hawke "First Reformed"

Hawke in “First Reformed”



The Gospel According to Andre (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Toronto 2017, Palm Springs 2018

$(est.) 45,000 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $(est.) 11,250

Without hard numbers from Magnolia, it seems the four-theater, two-city opening for this latest fashion world documentary about the iconic Andre Leon Talley had a decent initial foray. New York performed particularly well in theaters close to runways.

What comes next: This starts its national expansion this Friday.

"How to Talk To Girls at Parties"

“How to Talk to Girls at Parties”

How to Talk to Girls at Parties (A24) – Metacritic: 47; Festivals include: Cannes 2017, San Francisco 2018

$13,179 in 2 theaters; PTA: $6,590

John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Rabbit Hole”) returns to comedy with this aliens-in-London musical. A year after its Cannes debut, it opened in New York and Los Angeles to better results than most other of the week’s releases, but still far below his earlier efforts.

What comes next: Expect A24 to push this to top cities though it looks like it has limited prospects.

Mary Shelley (IFC) – Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Toronto 2017, Tribeca 2018

$12,016 in 2 theaters; PTA: $6,008

In one of the more interesting recent career trajectories, Saudi Arabia’s pioneer director Haifaa al-Mansour followed up her “Wadjda” with this British-made biopic about the author of “Frankenstein.” With Elle Fanning in the lead, this opened exclusive dates in New York and Los Angeles to little response.

What comes next: Seven more cities come aboard this Friday.

Summer 1993 (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Berlin, Hamptons, AFI 2017

$21,500 in 4 theaters; PTA: $5,375

Spain’s 2017 Oscar submission opened to strong reviews and (apart from the now closed Lincoln Plaza) a typical array of ideal New York/Los Angeles subtitled fare theaters plus one in Washington, D.C. The result was average among recent foreign films, though not strong by past expectations. The gross was sufficient with a good reaction to keep it going for additional weeks.

What comes next: This is scheduled for nationwide release in all top markets.

Who Are We Now (FilmRise) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Toronto 2017, South by Southwest 2018

$5,800 in 1 theater; PTA: $5,800

Julianne Nicholson and Emma Roberts costar as an ex-con trying to reunite with her daughter and the crusading lawyer at her side. With strong reviews continuing the acclaim this received at its festival showings, this opened at the Village East in Manhattan to modest results.

What comes next: Los Angeles is next this Friday.

The Misandrists (Cartilage) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Berlin 2017

$3,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,000

Veteran indie director Bruce LaBruce’s latest opened exclusively in Manhattan to minor results

What comes next: Landmark’s Los Angeles Nuart opens this Friday.

Week Two

First Reformed (A24)

$282,507 in 29 theaters (+25); PTA: $9,742; Cumulative: $425,469

Paul Schrader’s crisis of faith drama starring Ethan Hawke continues to resonate with specialized audiences as it expands to new cities in its second week, propelled by the best reviews of the year so far. Its numbers in wider release compare favorably to recent limited openers (“Disobedience,” “The Death of Stalin” among them). “Disobedience” had nearly double an opening weekend per theater average, but only grossed about the same its second weekend in similar theaters. This serious, provocative film could find a significant arthouse audience ahead.

“Pope Francis – A Man of HIs Word”

Focus Features

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Focus)

$290,000 in 385 theaters (+39); PTA: $748; Cumulative: $1,195,000

The pontiff’s popularity has not translated into tickets sold as Wim Wenders’ documentary falls from its mediocre initial reaction.

On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street)

$91,132 in 25 theaters (+21); PTA: $3,505; Cumulative: $146,079

Saorise Ronan as half of a newlywed early 1960s English couple heads this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel. The result early on is not getting the response as “Atonement” from the same author.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Warner Brothers)  (reissue)

$66,000 in 4 theaters (no change); PTA: $16,500; Cumulative: $387,000

Not as sensational as its first weekend, but the 70mm revival of Kubrick’s classic still soars above most reissues.


Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

RBG (Magnolia) Week 4

$1,120,000 in 415 theaters (+40); Cumulative: $5,637,000

Ruth Ginsberg’s star continues to shine as the documentary on the Supreme Court justice returns to the Top Ten (it ended up #12 last weekend). This shocking success now looks like it will easily better the strong results Magnolia saw from “I Am Not Your Negro” (over $7 million) despite not having an award-parallel release.

Disobedience (Bleecker Street) Week 5

$368,554 in 224 theaters (-23); Cumulative: $2,527,000

Chilean Sebastian Lelio’s English-language debut has now grossed more than his Oscar Foreign Language winner “A Fantastic Woman” by about $500,000. Once again focusing on strong female characters outside societal norms, his London-set romance with Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams should end up around $3.5 million.

Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$196,000 in 162 theaters (-126); Cumulative: $31,145,000

Wes Anderson’s latest animated film keeps adding to its year’s best so far specialized total.

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$184,578 in 107 theaters (+17); Cumulative: $1,371,378

The grosses remain modest, but at least the per theater average remains consistent.

Beast (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$175,120 in 93 theaters (+62); Cumulative: $407,195

This British remote island thriller tripled its theaters to minor impact.

Annette Bening

“The Seagull”

Sony Pictures Classics

The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$116,605 in 29 theaters (+16); Cumulative: $216,981

This heavyweight ensemble cast Chekhov play adaptation, also starring Ronan,  is getting minor sampling as it expands to more top big-city locations.

Let the Sunshine In (IFC) Week 5; also streaming

$104,263 in 69 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $540,506

Claire Denis’ midlife French romantic story continues to do respectable business considering its same time home-viewing availability.

Also noted:

The Death of Stalin (IFC) – $38,742 in 38 theaters; Cumulative: $7,880,000

Always at the Carlyle (Good Deed) – $15,562 in 13 theaters; Cumulative: $52,317

Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions) – $12,200 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $1,396,000

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