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‘Never Look Away’ Box Office Gets Oscar Bump; Godard’s ‘The Image Book’ Finds Its Fans

This year, Oscar-nominated films saw a $15 million boost; in 2018 the post-nomination weekend saw an increase of more than $30 million.

“Never Look Away”

Never Look Away,”, the three-hour post-World War II drama from the director of “The Lives of Others,” opened an exclusive New York run after its Oscar Foreign Language nomination. It had a very respectable start as the last of the five nominees to open. If it portends further interest, it is a welcome sign in a month when nearly all specialized theaters play last year’s releases.

The paucity of new films comes in the face of the ongoing Sundance Film Festival, which brings welcome signs of new acclaimed films. However, that prime festival also comes with news that two films produced by A24 sold two of its Park City premieres to HBO. If “Native Son” (from Richard Wright’s iconic novel) and the horror film “Share” see a theatrical release, it will be greatly reduced. Coming atop the increased presence of Netflix and its very limited theatrical presence, this is discouraging news.

This time of year, core theaters still depend on awards to boost grosses. That’s a concern; totals for all nominees this weekend was around $15 million, less than half of the same weekend last year.


Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2018

$26,270 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $30,806

The single theater opening (at New York’s Paris Theater) and the timing right after its Oscar nomination led to a per-theater average ahead of fellow contenders “Cold War” and “Shoplifters,” though significantly below “Roma.” It’s a very encouraging result, particularly given its initial reviews. The story of a young artist’s career, from his limited chances in East Berlin to his trying to adapt to the 1960s West, is told over three hours. The nomination was key to its chances, with SPC used to channeling these into attention.

What comes next: This will have a slow rollout, with Los Angeles next on February 8 (it previously played a one-week qualifying date there).

The Invisibles (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Mill Valley 2017

$27,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $6,750

This German film about four young Jews who managed to live outwardly normal lives in Berlin during World War II was acquired at an early stage of recently formed Greenwich Entertainment. Its release in four New York/Los Angeles theaters showed some interest for this new, subtitled film unattached to awards attention. With mixed reviews, this is a reasonable result.

What comes next: This quickly expands to other major cities this Friday.

Kino Lorber

The Image Book (Kino Lorber)  – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018

$15,200 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,067

88-year-old icon Jean-Luc Godard’s possible final film, an 84-minute cinematic essay melding film clips and commentary about historical trends, is a niche item of the highest order. It opened in three New York/Los Angeles high-end locations, with some strong reviews (particularly in the New York Times). The result is likely near the top of its limited potential; it did show a Saturday increase, which suggests those fans seeing it are getting what they hoped for.

What comes next: This will open in most large markets over the next few weeks (Los Angeles on February 15), though mainly in limited situations, including many museums and other non-theatrical locations.

Week Two

Who Will Write Our History? (Abramorama)

Results are pending for this documentary about the Warsaw Ghetto with new material from the Nazi siege uncovered and presented here. It is playing as a one-day event in about 100 North American theaters, with reports that European dates (parallel to today’s observance of Holocaust Remembrance day) have seen many sold-out shows. The first-week exclusive New York date grossed just under $20,000.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 11

$5,410,000 in 2,430 theaters (+1,518); Cumulative: $49,000,000

Universal’s precise and risky strategy of going wide late in its third month has gotten positive results. This gross is just short of its best weekend (Thanksgiving, when it took in $5.5 million in 1,063 theaters). But to respond by rebounding to the top position among nominees, and the sole one in the Top Ten, is a payoff for the studio. This does fall short of the two top Best Picture nominees a year ago after their nods; “The Post” grossed $9.1 million, eventual winner “The Shape of Water” $5.9 million.

"The Favourite"

“The Favourite”

Atsushi Nishijima

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$2,560,000 in 1,540 theaters (+1,023); Cumulative: $26,127,000

The theater count tripled for the co-leader in Oscar nominations, the second best gross among all contenders this weekend. This isn’t the best weekend for the film; it grossed $2.6 million in 441 theaters in its fourth weekend. But it does show that this attention can boost a film later in its run. That said, the gross lags below what two Searchlight titles last year did post nomination weekend – “The Shape of Water” added $5.9 million, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” $4.3 million. This however is a tougher one to gain traction, and the distributor has kept it thriving when it counts.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 5

$2,089,000 in 1,275 theaters (-685); Cumulative: $21,063,000

This portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a young woman saw a dropoff after what has been a much better than anticipated result.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$1,295,000 in 725 theaters (+641); Cumulative: $2,218,000

Though John C. Reilly didn’t get a longshot nomination for his half of this Laurel and Hardy comeback try biopic, this expansion saw significant theater play in its wider expansion. The per-theater results are modest, but going into a weekend without much competition gives the film a chance to gain word of mouth.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 7

$957,349 in 606 theaters (-412); Cumulative: $12,462,000

Barry Jenkins’ well-reviewed drama received three nominations (including supporting actress and adapted screenplay), but lost about 40 percent of its theaters. Those that continued maintained about the same average as last week. (Note: This gross corrects an apparent error in the distributor estimate, which listed a 35 percent increase, not decrease, for Sunday).

“Cold War”

Amazon Studios

Cold War (Amazon) Week 6

$571,650 in 111 theaters (+72); Cumulative: $1,444,000

With three nominations, including Director and Foreign Language Film, Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white Polish post-war romance continues its impressive run. With further expansion ahead, this should easily join “Roma” and “Shoplifters” at eventual totals over $3 million, possibly more for each. That’s rarefied territory for subtitled films of late. Last year’s winner, “A Fantastic Woman,” was best of its set of nominees at just over $2 million.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight) Week 15

$(est.) 230,000 in 220 theaters (+184); Cumulative: $8,030,000

Joining fellow Best Actress nominee “The Wife” at over $8 million, the film returned for additional play with minor results.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 18

$212,540 in 101 theaters (+3); Cumulative: $13,486,000

Second only to “RBG” in gross among the Documentary Feature nominees, and likely to push ahead with 350 IMAX dates and other play ahead, this National Geographic presentation is still strong in its fifth month of release.

Destroyer (Annapurna) Week 5

$191,597 in 77 theaters (+27); Cumulative: $2,488,000

Nicole Kidman was on the cusp for a Best Actress nomination. Not received, this contemporary police noir increased its theater count (it still is in the early stages of widened release). It is one of the few fresh films around, so it could find some ongoing interest ahead.

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 10

$(est.) 190,000 in 114 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $(est.) $2,517,000

Currently the second-best grossing of the Foreign Language contenders, and very impressive as it heads to $3 million or more.

Roma (Netflix) Week 10; also streaming

$(est.) 175,000 in (est). 80 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,050,000

Our rough estimate for the unreported “Roma” continues based on number of theaters listed as playing and spot-checking some big-city locations where individual shows can be monitored for presales. It appears that the strong nomination haul added more viewers, despite the film’s availability on Netflix. By our count, that puts this over $3 million, the first specialized non-English language film to achieve that since “Ida” several years ago.

Mary, Queen of Scots (Focus) Week 8

$126,000 in 127 theaters (-278); Cumulative: $16,411,000

Plugging along after its expected lack of nominations, this British royal drama will end up with a middling domestic gross after a strong holiday showing maximized its potential.

‘The Wife”

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 24

$120,942 in 105 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $8,707,000

Very late in its theatrical run, Glenn Close’s shot at an Oscar added to its gross and kept a theatrical presence in major cities.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$51,671 in 20 theaters (+3); Cumulative: $381,007

Lebanon’s Oscar nominee has been in limited release for six weeks prior to the announcements, with a slow expansion timed to benefit from its new attention. The gross responded with an uptick this weekend, with wider release planned. As with other nominees in this category, word of mouth could also boost its prospects.

Also noted:

Ben Is Back (Roadside Attractions) – $26,100 in 52 theaters; Cumulative: $3,637,000


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