Fresh product is invigorating the post-awards season. Julianne Moore in “Gloria Bell,” Sebastián Lelio’s Los Angeles redo of his Chilean success “Gloria,” led the field with a strong two-city start. Expanding “Apollo 11” (Neon) added to its initial IMAX runs, landing in tenth place overall.
Scoring surprisingly strong numbers is “Babylon,” an almost 40-year-old British-Jamaican film finally released stateside. Its exclusive New York run took in $20,000, a strong number for any specialized opener.
The recent subtitled surge continues as a variety of new esoteric and well-reviewed entries join previous non-English successes “Climax” (Neon) and “Everybody Knows” (Focus).
Gloria Bell (A24) – Metacritic: 81; Festivals include: Toronto 2018
$154,775 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $30,955
Lelio has already enjoyed three significant specialized successes: the original “Gloria,” his Oscar-winner “A Fantastic Woman” last year, and London-made “Disobedience.” For his first U.S. film, he reworked “Gloria” with Julianne Moore playing a single grandmother, a professional by day but nightclub dancer at night, and John Turturro as her love interest. Backed by A24, “Gloria Bell” is the first English language drama in a while to appeal to older mainstream specialized audiences, who are hungry for fresh films. It opened in top New York/Los Angeles theaters to positive reviews, launching well ahead of the distributor’s recent “Climax,” “Lean On Pete,” and “First Reformed.” Ironically, the gross is just under “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (which was initially to star Moore), when it opened last fall.
What comes next: Expect a significant national push for this, starting with the expansion this Friday.
The Kid (Lionsgate) – Metacritic: 51
$505,000 in 268 theaters; PTA: $1,884
Actor Vincent D’Onofrio directed and co-stars with Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke in this Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid western which Lionsgate launched nationally in a range of upscale to lesser theaters. The lack of critical support justified avoiding the platform route. The plan is to sustain these theaters and hope they can sustain multi-week interest.
What comes next: For the moment, hold these theaters and see if word of mouth keeps it going.
Babylon (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 81
$20,096 in 1 theater; PTA: $20,096
This 1980 British film about the London reggae scene is not a reissue — it never before had a U.S. release. It has a strong cult reputation, clearly shown by its impressive showing in its initial exclusive showing at Brooklyn’s BAM Theater.
What comes next: Los Angeles (Glendale to be exact) comes on this Friday. But expect numbers like this to raise further interest beyond initial multiple city bookings.
An Elephant Sitting Still (Kimstim) – Metacritic: 81; Festivals include: Berlin, New Directors/New Film, Toronto 2018
$10,800 in 1 theater; PTA: $10,800
At nearly four hours long, this Chinese film, the only feature from Hu Bo, an accomplished novelist who took his own life at 29 after completing this film, earned among the best reviews of any film so far in 2019. The film’s extreme length limited shows at its exclusive New York theater, which included several sold out shows, leading to this outstanding gross.
What comes next: This will get some prime arthouse dates including Los Angeles on March 22, but is positioned also for special event screenings ahead.
Three Faces (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018
$7,196 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,196
Iranian master Jafar Panahi’s latest film, his latest independent production made in the face of government limits on his creative freedom, had a respectable debut in a single Manhattan theater. Like his “Taxi,” Panahi’s character drives the story, helping an actress track down a missing woman. As usual for Panahi, this received positive critical support.
What comes next: Upcoming dates include museums, special showings as well as full week dates. Los Angeles and San Francisco open on March 29.
Ferrante Fever (Greenwich)
$4,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $4,000
The Italian pseudonymous writer of stories of female friendship is the subject of this documentary. It deals more with her writing and its impact than any revelations. The opening at New York’s Quad Theater drew a modest initial response.
What comes next: Los Angeles on March 29 is the first of other additional dates, which will include some stand-alone event showings.
Apollo 11 (Neon)
$1,301,000 in 405 theaters (+285); PTA: $3,212; Cumulative: $3,781,000
After last weekend’s IMAX-only launch (those screens nearly all went to “Captain Marvel”) this assemblage of rare NASA archive footage of the first lunar landing mission edged into the Top Ten. Clearly, this CNN Films production justifies theatrical play.
$110,786 in 28 theaters (+23); PTA: $3,957; Cumulative: $280,652
Gaspar Noe’s hallucinatory bravura film about a party for dancers going to extremes expanded to multiple big markets with strong continued interest. Given that the subtitled film is targeting the hard-to-get younger audience, its performance so far is reasonable.
Transit (Music Box)
$42,538 in 5 theaters (+3); PTA: $8,508; Cumulative: $89,730
Christian Petzold’s inventive romantic thriller about a political refugee in France added Los Angeles in its second weekend. Though not performing quite at the initial level of some recent subtitled successes, upbeat reviews could position the drama for a sustained run and other decent openings. The numbers are not far behind his earlier “Phoenix,” which managed to reach $3 million in 2015.
The Wedding Guest (Music Box)
$66,078 in 31 (+27); PTA: $2,132; Cumulative: $90,306
Michael Winterbottom’s latest, a thriller starring Dev Patel, expanded quickly in its second weekend to some national interest.
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
Green Book (Universal) Week 17
$2,490,000 in 2,097 theaters (-544); Cumulative: $80,140,000
The Best Picture winner is transitioning to home venues, with its theatrical total looking to pass $85 million.
Fighting With My Family (MGM) Week 4
$2,189,000 in 2,455 theaters (-400); Cumulative: $18,657,000
The backing of Dwayne Johnson will push this biofilm about English wrestling superstar Paige to around $25 million.
Everybody Knows (Focus) Week 5
$445,000 in 283 theaters (+74); Cumulative: $1,878,000
The combination of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem with director Asghar Farhadi has pushed this Spanish-made film into a position of joining three Oscar nomination foreign language films in the $2 million-plus gross category. Four in one cycle hasn’t happened in a long time.
The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 17; also on Video on Demand
$260,000 in 278 theaters (-454); Cumulative: $33,809,000
Olivia Colman’s Best Actress win should push this to around $35 million.
Arctic (Bleecker Street) Week 6
$182,292 in 208 theaters (-60); Cumulative: $1,984,000
This more mainstream genre specialized film (Mads Mikkelsen struggling to survive a far north plane crash) is down from its peak theater count with modest reaction from audiences.
CatVideoFest 2019 (Oscilloscope) Week 4
$141,500 in 55 theaters (+45); Cumulative: $216,076
This compilation of feline films, playing as event shows rather than full screens, continues to impress as it expands. One Detroit location looks to take in about $30,000 with five shows over the weekend.
They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Brothers) Week 8
$(est.) 140,000 in 213 theaters (-155); Cumulative: (est.) $17,320,000
Peter Jackson’s meticulously restored footage from World War I continues to add to its already impressive gross.
Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 24; also on Video on Demand
$131,6000 in 119 theaters (-119); Cumulative: $17,222,000
The Oscar Feature Documentary winner continues to get theater attention even with considerable home viewing competition.
Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7
$113,086 in 77 theaters (-45); Cumulative: $860,249
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s previous German success “The Lives of Others” grossed (adjusted) nearly $15 million on its 2007 release. This three hour long film hasn’t received the same level of acclaim, but should become the latest of an unusually large number of subtitled films to cross $1 million.
Birds of Passage (The Orchard) Week 4
$61,343 in 50 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $246,581
Though it has gotten even better reviews than their acclaimed (and Oscar-nominated) “Embrace of the Serpent,” this follow-up from a pair of Colombian directors so far isn’t getting the response it deserves from audiences.
Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 13
$60,883 in 45 theaters (-13); Cumulative: $1,470,000
Nadine Labaki’s success with the biggest-grosser of her three films, all of which have impressively had national releases in the U.S., is unprecedented for any specialized Arab world director.
Cold War (Amazon) Week 12
$53,800 in 60 theaters (-68); Cumulative: $4,470,000
Pawel Pawlikowski’s second black-and-white Polish film to perform well both domestically and internationally (it’s close to $20 million worldwide so far) is nearing the end of its theatrical run after finding an enthusiastic response.
Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$52,657 in 61 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $5,151,000
One more round for this biopic that has accumulated a decent total despite little awards notice.
The Iron Orchard (Santa Rita) – $23,170 in 22 theaters; Cumulative: $162,030
To Dust (Good Deed) – $15,496 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $123,442
A Tube to Cuba (Blue Fox) – $13,941 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $59,394