The specialized fall season, rife with awards contenders, launched in earnest this weekend. Two limited openings — “Colette” (Bleecker Street) with Keira Knightley as the legendary writer and western “The Sisters Brothers” (Annapurna), the first English-language film from director Jacques Audiard — notched bigger grosses than any platform debuts since early July.
This weekend also saw three recent high-profile festival titles — Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” Dan Fogelman’s “Life Itself,” and Sundance’s “Assassination Nation” — go wide nationally. All three found little interest, but provided more competition for specialized viewers who might otherwise have patronized more limited films.
Continuing the box office uptick for documentaries, three biodocs about creative figures found some initial response, with star-driven “Tea With the Dames” (IFC) showing particular strength in its New York exclusive. “Love, Gilda” (Magnolia) made a national big- city showing, while “Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable” (Greenwich) also saw significant opening interest in New York.
Colette (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Sundance, Toronto 2018
$156,788 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $39,197
Keira Knightley carried this period portrait of the bestselling French 20th-century novelist. With the right formula biopics can still perform. Though it debuted at Sundance months ago, Bleecker Street launched the literary bodice-ripper at the start of the fall awards season with placement at four ideal New York/Los Angeles theaters. The result is the best two-city limited opening since “The Eighth Grade” in early July, about 50 percent better than “The Wife,” a few weeks ago which is now thriving in wider release.
What comes next: This expands to about 12 cities this Friday as the first stage of its national release.
The Sisters Brothers (Annapurna) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2018
$122,028 in 4 theaters; PTA: $30,507
Three high-profile films — “A Prophet,” “Rust and Bone,” and “Dheepan” — have established auteur Jacques Audiard at the top of France’s filmmaker heirarchy. His first American project was backed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Productions, with Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as gunmen in the 1850s Northwest. This is not typical specialized fare these days. Decent reviews, prime festival attention, strong four New York/Los Angeles theaters, and a sizeable ad buy propelled this to a decent initial result. This is the first Western of the year.
What comes next: The expansion rollout starts with several top cities added this Friday.
Tea With the Dames (IFC) – Metacritic: 89
$15,031 in 1 theater; PTA: $15,031
Starpower rules as four longtime friends, leading British actresses including Oscar-winners Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, were filmed during an afternoon together sharing their experiences. This opened with a strong result in Manhattan in advance of its wider release.
What comes next: Next up is Los Angeles and Chicago this Friday as well as expansion in New York.
Tribeca Film Festival
Love, Gilda (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Tribeca 2018
$(est.) 170,000 in 85 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,000
This documentary about Gilda Radner hit a wide array of major cities to mixed results but considerable press in advance of its home availability.
What comes next: Streaming starts on Tuesday
Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2018
$9,538 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,538; Cumulative: $13,782
The three-decade career of acclaimed photographer Garry Winogrand (whose work from from the 1950s to his death in 1984 mostly focused on street life and other everyday activities) is the focus of this documentary. It opened at New York’s Film Forum to a decent five-day gross of nearly $14,000.
What comes next: Landmark’s Nuart in Los Angeles opens this Friday.
Lizzie (Roadside Attractions)
$256,510 in 240 theaters (+236); PTA: $1,068; Cumulative: $325,239
Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of an infamous Massachusetts ax murder expanded quickly nationwide. The results were minor with only a little over $1,000 average per theater.
The Dawn Wall (The Orchard)
$14,193 in 3 theaters (+1); PTA: $4,731; Cumulative: $774,179
Since its credible two theater opening last weekend, this documentary about a perilous climb at Yosemite played as a Fathom event on Tuesday, grossing about $720,000 in one single night showing in 600 theaters. Meanwhile it is playing limited full-week dates, and will return for another one day showing in 250 theaters on October 8. Next week brings higher-profile festival hit “Free Solo” (September 28, NatGeo), about another El Capitan climber, Alex Honnold.
Science Fair (National Geographic)
$18,170 in 5 theaters (+4); PTA: $3,634; Cumulative: $41,423
This documentary about an international gathering of fledgling science students expanded to Los Angeles and elsewhere to overall modest results.
Graeme Hunter Pictures
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 6
$975,788 in 468 theaters (-73); Cumulative: $4,977,000
Glenn Close’s possible awards contender continues to dominate the early fall specialized scene. The theater count fell a little, but the per theater take remained about the same.
Juliet, Naked (Roadside Attractions) – Week 6
$118,760 in 102 theaters (-163); Cumulative: $3,247,000
Jesse Peretz’s adaptation of Nick Hornsby’s romantic triangle novel, starring Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne, is winding up its multi-hundred theater run with an ultimate gross reaching a little under $4 million.
Blaze (IFC) – Week 6
$86,214 in 43 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $451,328
Writer-director Hawke’s film about Austin-based musician Blaze Foley continues its circuitous expansion (it started with Texas dates) with continued decent sampling.
The Bookshop (Greenwich) – Week 5
$70,449 in 69 theaters (-67); Cumulative: $1,346,000
Isabel Coixet’s England seatown period piece shows that fledgling Greenwich can reach a wide specialized audience. This wasn’t a breakout, but managed to reach the same level of national audience that more established distributors would have.
Pick of the Litter (IFC) – Week 4; also streaming
$66,137 in 51 theaters (+18); Cumulative: $268,014
With this charming documentary about training service dogs, IFC continues to show the ability to garner theatrical numbers parallel to home viewing venues.
Three Identical Strangers (Neon) – Week 13
$57,783 in 55 theaters (-40); Cumulative: $12,194,000
Like the summer’s other documentary smashes, Neon’s successful entry has sustained a three month run.
Puzzle (Sony Pictures Classics) – $17,240 in 29 theaters; Cumulative: $1,928,000
We the Animals (The Orchard) – $15,639 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $370,166
Bisbee ’17 (4th Row)- $12,780 in 9 theaters; Cumulative: $60,189