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Oscar Shorts Hit Records as Specialty Box Office Waits for Academy Award Winners

While Oscar winners may get a brief boost, that season is coming to an end and more movies are filling that gap.

“Fighting With My Family”

While possible winners “Roma,” “Vice,” “Free Solo,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Green Book” could get a box-office boost from Sunday’s Oscar finale, the specialized world’s primary reliance on awards contenders is drawing to a close. That leaves room for other players to take center stage. Specialized mainstay Roadside Attractions is releasing “Run the Race” for Christian audiences, while MGM is widening its platformed “Fighting With My Family.” Both placed in the Top Ten, but neither is likely to find most of their business at art houses.

With a couple of niche releases (“Wrestle” in New York and “The Iron Orchard” in Texas) there isn’t much new this week to add to excitement at core theaters. However, expansions of “Everybody Knows” (Focus) and “Arctic” (Bleecker Street) both show some interest. Both should be able to expand further as screens become plentiful.

In the middle of the awards hoopla, this year’s edition of nominated short films is thriving with the best results yet for this annual compilation: it’s one of the top specialized performers of the season.


Run the Race (Roadside Attractions)

$2,273,000 in 853 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $2,664,000

Leading specialized distributor Roadside Attractions has developed a lucrative niche in handling faith-based titles. Their “I Can Only Imagine” last year was a breakout smash at $83 million. This story of two teen brothers coping without parents is the first release for that audience in several months, placing tenth overall, the best results in close to year among all such films.

What comes next: Films like this can have a short shelf life or take off with word of mouth. Next weekend will tell us where it’s headed.

Wrestle (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: San Francisco 2018

$7,100 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $7,100

Similar to this year’s Oscar documentary nominees “Minding the Gap” and “Hale County, This Morning, This Evening,” this portrayal of a Southern wrestling team grappling with uncertain futures has scored strong reviews. Its initial New York exclusive run, even with a low media profile, delivered upbeat initial results.

What comes next: Los Angeles this week is next among scheduled upcoming dates.

“The Iron Orchard”

The Iron Orchard (Santa Rita) – Festivals include: Austin 2018

$49,250 in 8 theaters; PTA: $6,156

This adaptation of an acclaimed 1960s novel about southwestern oil fields opened atypically in eight theaters in two Texas markets. These are quite decent initial numbers for both the locations and the unusual release pattern.

What comes next: This expands in Texas and adds initial New York and Los Angeles dates this Friday.

Week Two

Fighting With My Family (MGM)

$8,012,000 in 2,711 theaters (+2,707); PTA: $2,955; Cumulative: $8,227,000

This Dwayne Johnson-produced retelling of the life and career of leading WWE performer Paige and her family debuted at Sundance, opened as a platform release, and now has expanded to reach a wide national audience. It placed #4 overall, credible if not spectacular. The question now is whether it develops grass roots word of mouth to create a strong multiple to push into the $30-40 million range. Its A- Cinemascore is a positive sign.

Birds of Passage (The Orchard)

$40,097 in 10 theaters (+8); PTA: $4,010; Cumulative: $86,834

This major critical success from the directors of “Embrace of the Serpent” is doing better than average (without help from the Oscars) for subtitled films. The better test of its appeal will come ahead as we see if audience response helps boost this with less competition over the next few weeks.

Ruben Brandt, Collector (Sony Pictures Classics)

$6,913 in 3 theaters (+2); PTA: $2,304; Cumulative: $18,225

The second weekend for this 2017 Hungarian animated tale involving art museum heists shows little sign that it has improved from its minor initial results.

CatVideoFest 2019 (Oscilloscope)   8-24

$12,250 in 2 theaters (-6); PTA: $6,125; Cumulative: $36,104

This compilation of feline shorts played limited shows in Brooklyn and Toronto this weekend, continuing the event presentation through upcoming weeks. The response so far has been consistently good.

“Green Book”

Universal Pictures

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 15

$2,090,000 in 1,253 theaters (-397); Cumulative: $69,610,000

The top highest currently grossing Best Picture nominee is one of only two, including “Vice,”  not available yet for home viewing. Peter Farrelly’s leading contender has grossed more than any Best Picture winner since “Argo.” It had been heavy lifting for Universal to get to this point (among other things requiring much higher than normal marketing support for this level of gross), but it’s hard to dispute that whatever the Oscar results it has achieved the studio’s goals.

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (ShortsTV/Magnolia) Week 3; also on video on demand

$598,000 in 410 theaters (+40); Cumulative: $3,205,000

This year’s results for the annual compilation of Oscar nominated short films is at least $500,000 ahead of the best previous grosses through its third weekend.

They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.) Week 6

$550,000 in 448 theaters (-178); Cumulative: $16,409,000

The gross keeps growing for this unexpected success. Peter Jackson’s salvaging World War I battlefield footage continues to respond to mainstream audiences as it adds to its already impressive total.

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 14; also on video on demand

$540,000 in 288 theaters (-36); Cumulative: $32,108,000

Yorgos Lathimos’ period regal farce could wind up a shutout or a multiple award winner Sunday night. But whatever happens, this gross remains one of the top specialized releases of late, with Fox Searchlight again showing their ability to maximize a gross.

Arctic (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$522,452 in 257 theaters (+242); Cumulative: $1,027,000

The third weekend of Mads Mikkelsen trying to survive after a far north plane crash had a big jump this weekend with enough response to suggest it could get further interest ahead.

Everybody Knows

“Everybody Knows”

© Teresa Isasi

Everybody Knows (Focus) Week 3

$355,000 in 71 theaters (+67); Cumulative: $728,000

The first big city national expansion for Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-made family thriller is yet another sign of resurgence in subtitled films. And this comes without a parallel awards boost. This looks destined for more growth and a chance to gain traction in the post-awards world ahead.

Cold War (Amazon) Week 10

$330,421 in 259 theaters (+12); Cumulative: $4,125,000

Until we get actual numbers from Netflix, its Oscar rival in directing, cinematography and foreign-language is beating our “Roma” estimate. Its apples and oranges, as the Polish film is not available for streaming yet.  But the number is impressive and appears, well ahead of any art-house subtitled film in many years, with the likelihood it could pass $5 million.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 11

$176,729 in 127 theaters (-38); Cumulative: $14,459,000

On the eve of a possible Supporting Actress Oscar for Regina King, Barry Jenkins’ multiple Indie Spirits winner could see a boost next week.

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$167,599 in 80 theaters (+76); Cumulative: $484,294

Despite its over three-hour length, Germany’s Oscar nominee in its first big city expansion is performing similar to SPC’s other contender “Capernaum” as it added theaters. The nomination and subsequent play should get it over $1 million and some more.

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 28; also on video on demand

$153,250 in 204 theaters (+127); Cumulative: $9,417,000

The Best Actress frontrunner is still kicking around in theaters and still adding to its gross. A win tonight for Glenn Close might push it above $10 million while getting it a major surge in home viewing.

Roma (Netflix) Week 14; also streaming   3.7

$(est.) 140,000 in 80 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,840,000

Spotchecking theaters where sales are available and finding a higher holdover rate than most Best Picture contenders (whose grosses are available) it appears the last-minute gross for Alfonso Cuarón’s frontrunner increased a little. If it’s a major winner as anticipated, it will be interesting to how it fares in terms of theater count and holdover performance.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 22; also on Video on Demand

$138,800 in 90 theaters (-18); Cumulative: $16,489,000

Another film that could see a surge ahead depending on its Oscar result in Feature Documentary. Irrespective of the result it has been a huge hit for National Geographic.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11

$133,310 in 115 theaters (-21); Cumulative: $1,234,000

This well-reviewed and also Oscar Foreign Language nominee Lebanese film has done above average for most subtitled films while falling short of the top three contenders, all of which appear to have passed $3 million.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$126,355 in 128 theaters (-82); Cumulative: $5,001,000

This genial and poignant Laurel and Hardy late career portrayal had only tangential awards involvement, yet has managed to get some decent attention anyway.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 9

$120,000 in 129 theaters (-57); Cumulative: $24,500,000

Though released at the end of awards qualifying deadlines, this biopic got no traction there. Yet it has gone on to beat many top awards contenders.

Lords of Chaos (Gunpowder & Sky) Week 3; also on Video on Demand

$60,027 in 70 (+45) theaters; Cumulative: $180,807

This late 1980s Norwegian true story of a heavy-metal band launch expanded wider to minor results parallel to its home availability.

Also noted:

The Invisibles (Greenwich) – $23,600 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $208,369

To Dust (Good Deed) – $19,927 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $69,290

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