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MoviePass Boosts ‘American Animals’ at Specialty Box Office

MoviePass is more than a subscription ticketing app: its marketing can dramatically move the opening weekend needle.

Barry Keoghan "American Animals"

Barry Keoghan in “American Animals”

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sundance debut “American Animals” (The Orchard), the twisty docudrama hybrid recreation of a high-stakes Kentucky college heist, got a boost on its way to dominating the specialty box office this weekend. It’s one of the best platform releases in recent weeks. And it was a surprise.

The Orchard partnered with MoviePass when it acquired “American Animals” for a reported $3 million. Clearly, that extra MoviePass marketing push made a significant difference.

Meanwhile two current successes, “RBG” (Magnolia) and “First Reformed” (A24), continue to impress at different stages of expansion, with the former heading toward becoming Magnolia’s biggest grosser.

Opening

American Animals (The Orchard) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, San Francisco, Seattle 2018

$140,633 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $35,158

That this caper film about a 2004 rare book theft had such a strong opening at four key New York/Los Angeles platform theaters comes as a surprise. The reviews weren’t that great, and it boasted no marquee draws. And The Orchard was trying to reach the trickiest audience for specialized movies: 20-something millennials similar to the film’s principals.

The secret sauce that helped The Orchard reach an opening PTA double their previous best (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) is their partnership with embattled MoviePass. The two companies combined to pick up the film at Sundance. The app then utilized its resources to publicize the film to its subscribers, and the result paid off with a result much bigger than the film was expected to deliver.

The Arclight Hollywood, which does not honor MoviePass, had a respectable gross, but it was the third best of the four theaters, and behind the older-audience The Landmark by some margin.

This could be a blip, an exaggerated response based on the higher reported subscriptions in these two cities. Or, as we will see as this expands this week and beyond, an indication of how MoviePass could benefit distributors and theaters and find a more receptive hearing from established movie entities.

What comes next: This will expand to multiple larger cities this Friday with further expansion planned through June and beyond.

“A Kid Like Jake”

IFC Films

A Kid Like Jake (IFC) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Seattle 2018

$9,063 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,063

A top line cast including Jim Parsons, Claire Danes, and Octavia Spencer head this Manhattan drama about finding the right private school for an imaginative four-year-old who likes to dress like a girl. The Sundance premiere scored a mixed critical response for its exclusive initial run at the IFC Center, where it got some sampling. This will not be  breakout for IFC.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, the same day as streaming availability starts.

Breath (FilmRise) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Toronto 2017

$5,700 in 1 theater; PTA: $5,700

Already a significant independent success in Australia, this story of two teen surfers who take a road trip across that vast country comes from veteran actor Simon Baker (TV’s “The Guardian” and “The Mentalist”). It opened at one New York location to good reviews but modest results at the Angelika.

What comes next: Los Angeles is among the June 8 openings.

Week Two

The Gospel According to Andre (Magnolia)

$82,000 in 21 theaters (+17); PTA: $4,100; Cumulative: $166,841

Andre Leon Talley, the latest larger-than-life fashionista to get his feature documentary spotlight, saw the film about him expand to multiple cities with a middling but respectable result.

Summer 1993 (Oscilloscope)

$15,500 in 5 theaters (+1); PTA: $3,100; Cumulative: $50,186

Spain’s most recent Oscar submission held up well in its initial dates in its second weekend, although similar to most subtitled films, the numbers indicate niche interest ahead.

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“Mary Shelley”

Mary Shelley (IFC)

$14,459 in 9 theaters (+7); PTA: $1,606; Cumulative: $36,505

Sui generis Saudi female director Haifaa al-Mansour’s British biopic about the “Frankenstein” author expanded to new cities without getting much added interest.

Who We Are Now (FilmRise)

$5,500 in 3 theaters (+2); PTA: $1,833; Cumulative: $12,221

This strongly reviewed drama about an ex-con mother struggling to regain custody added Los Angeles to continued modest results.

How Long Will I Love U? (Well Go USA)

$170,700 in 32 theaters (+9); PTA: $5,334; Cumulative: $502,521

This Chinese time-travel romance continues to find interest in limited theaters that draw audiences for mainland general audience films.

“RBG”

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

RGB (Magnolia) Week 5

$1,100,000 in 432 theaters (+17); Cumulative: $7,876,000

Now ahead of their equally impressive “I Am Not Your Negro,” Magnolia looks to have their biggest grosser ever with this documentary on the Supreme Court Justice. A $10 million-plus total is in view, which would put it ahead of “Woman, Thou Are Loosed” (2004) which adjusted also reached that mark.

First Reformed (A24) Week 3

$455,435 in 91 theaters (+62); Cumulative: $1,057,000

Paul Schrader’s strongly reviewed drama about theological doubt and despair continues to click with art house devotees as is expands further. This continues to suggest a future in core theaters with some crossover that should put it ahead of all other serious specialized dramas released so far this year, and could yield an eventual Best Actor Oscar nomination for Ethan Hawke or even, a first screenplay nomination for Schrader.

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$243,055 in 224 theaters (+117); Cumulative: $1,743,000

In its widest release yet, this contemporary western, though one of the most acclaimed films of the year is still not showing more than minor results.

DISOBEDIENCEAlessandro Nivola (left) as Dovid Kuperman and Rachel McAdams (right) as Esti Kuperman CR: Bleecker Street

“Disobedience”

Bleecker Street

Disobedience (Bleeck Street) Week 6

$211,271 in 158 theaters (-66); Cumulative: $3,057,000

This gay romance set in a London synagogue is heading to around a $4 million total, with stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz continuing as the main draw.

Pope Francis – A Man of His Word (Focus) Week 3

$150,000 in 273 theaters (-112); Cumulative: $1,568,000

While Ruth Bader Ginsberg continues to ride high, this documentary about another admired icon is not showing similar results despite a similar number of theaters played.

On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$142,400 in 89 theaters (+64); Cumulative: $345,606

Similar to Saoirse Ronan’s recent ensemble release “The Seagull,” this film romance (adapted from a 60s Ian McEwan romance) is not showing signs of any momentum after the big success of “Ladybird.”

Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 11

$135,000 in 129 theaters (-33); Cumulative: $31,400,000

Wes Anderson’s latest animated efforts is still playing after nearly three months in release.

Saoirse Ronan

“The Seagull”

Sony Pictures Classics

The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$130,573 in 52 theaters (+23); Cumulative: $526,526

Chekhov with a top flight ensemble cast continues to show some interest in limited specialized situations.

Beast (Roadside Attractions) Week 4

$87,610 in 92 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $629,563

This murder/romantic tale set off the British coast is getting little traction despite play at top specialized theaters.

Let the Sunshine In (IFC) Week 6; also streaming

$80,068 in 68 theaters (+1); Cumulative: $696,489

Claire Denis’ latest, with a stellar French cast and appeal to sophisticated older crowds, continues on its path to a likely $1 million gross. That’s better than most arthouse subtitled films. In this case, it comes while also having streaming availability.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Warner Bros.) (reissue)  Week 3

$69,000 in 5 theaters (+1); Cumulative: $564,000

With all the 50th anniversary commemorations of 1968, this 70mm reissue is one of the few happy ones. Its limited play continues to do very well at very select theaters.

Also noted:

Mountain (Greenwich) – $36,000 in theaters; Cumulative: $90,472

The Death of Stalin (IFC) – $29,102 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $7,943,000

Always at the Carlyle (Good Deed) – $18,212 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $90,613

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