After a very uneven summer, several new and recently released titles showed some positive results this weekend. It’s a opportunistic moment: The studios’ schedules are light and screens are more available before the onslaught of the top titles now playing at festivals.
Gavin Hood’s “Official Secrets” had a decent debut in New York and Los Angeles, and an atypical release of “Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins” in Texas also showed initial interest that could translate into other cities ahead.
The second weekend of “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” with its slower release pattern, had a positive result but it’s still unclear as to how well it will crossover. Similarly, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is already showing strong grosses as it moves past the 1,000 theater mark. Among other recent openers, “Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool” had an excellent Los Angeles opening to match its initial New York date.
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Official Secrets (IFC) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance 2019
$80,846 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $20,012
Gavin Hood’s films range from the Foreign Language Oscar-winning “Tsotsi,” to an “X-Men” film and more recently the specialized hit “Eye in the Sky.” His newest film is another politically charged effort, with Keira Knightley as a whistleblower. IFC placed it at four top New York/Los Angeles theaters, and it was the no. 1 title at three of them. “Eye in the Sky” with Helen Mirren ended up close to $19 million three years ago with an initial start similar to this one. With less competition in the near future before the major awards rollouts, this should find considerable interest from theaters.
What comes next: Expansion to top ten markets begins the rollout out that will grow through the month.
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, San Francisco 2019
$93,120 in 17 theaters; PTA: $5,173
Texas-only initial dates started what will be a national specialized run for this documentary on Molly Ivins, the iconic Lone Star state political journalist. She is the kind of charismatic legend whom current documentary audiences appreciate. Magnolia, with the inclusion of several Alamo Drafthouse theaters in the mix, smartly opened this sole in her home state. These numbers are quite good for the locations ahead of its wider launch.
What comes next: New York opens Friday, with Los Angeles and other cities the following week.
Before You Know It (1091) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance 2019
$27,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $9,000
A quirky family comedy about revealed mysteries about a long-lost mother, set in the world of stage and soap operas, opened in New York and Los Angeles to modest reviews but top placement at its East Coast locations on this holiday weekend. The result shows interest in its acting-world milieu as well as interest in daytime veteran Judith Light among the players, joining Alec Baldwin and Mandy Patinkin among others.
What comes next: This expands to a total of over 10 cities this Friday.
Jon Pack / Amazon
Brittany Runs a Marathon (Amazon)
$414,248 in 49 theaters (+44); PTA: $8,454; Cumulative: $639,658
This traditional multi-stage roll out of this Sundance comedy acquisition is showing some success, placing best or second at a range of specialized and crossover theaters this weekend. Its second-weekend totals are not close to the level of “The Farewell;” that film had a PTA of $33,000 in 35 theaters. This doesn’t have the specific niche appeal that aided A24’s film, nor are the reviews as good. Still, word of mouth seems to be good, this has a good A- Cinemascore result, and the upcoming September play weeks show little in the way of adult competition. This will jump to around 250 theaters this weekend.
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (Abramorama)
$37,106 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $18,553; Cumulative: $67,553
Excellent second weekend for Stanley Nelson’s documentary. It had a terrific hold at New York’s Film Forum, with a strong debut at The Landmark in Los Angeles. This could be one of the top non-fiction titles of the late summer/early fall.
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (Roadside Attractions)
$74,005 in 28 theaters (+21); PTA: $2,072; Cumulative: $154,656
This documentary about the popular musical quickly added top cities to continue showing modest interest. That’s likely to continue with further additional runs throughout the month.
Music Box Films
Give Me Liberty (Music Box)
$34,181 in 9 theaters (+6); PTA: $3,798; Cumulative: $76,282
These second-week numbers are decent for this comedy about Russian immigrants in Milwaukee. They include a majority of runs in Wisconsin, which makes the result more impressive playing in small-grossing theaters. It also had a decent initial reaction in its initial Los Angeles dates.
Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)
The Peanut Butter Falcon (Roadside Attractions) Week 4
$2,921,000 in 1,249 theaters (+254); Cumulative: $7,908,000
Propelled by word of mouth, the gross for this weekend is about the same as last for this story of a special needs young man who dreams of wrestling success. The PTA is about three fourths of the previous result, even with an increase in theaters. That’s an excellent hold for a film that looks like it will add a good deal more to its total.
Blinded By the Light (Warner Bros.) Week 3
$1,210,000 in 1,673 theaters (-634); Cumulative: $10,200,000
New Line’s $15 million acquisition of this big Sundance success might serve as a cautionary tale for the new festival season’s acclaimed titles. Despite a wide release and substantial studio support, this film won’t gross its sale price.
The Farewell (A24) Week 8
$829,165 in 891 theaters (+75); Cumulative: $15,951,000
With an awards future ahead, Lulu Wang’s film keeps adding to its gross, which will now likely reach $18 million or more. That’s standout for this year; even more so when the bulk of the film is not in English.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (United Artists) Week 3
$(est.) 610,000 in 907 theaters (-1,399); Cumulative: $(est.) 8,107,000
Richard Linklater made news this week with the announcement of his two-decade plan to replicate his long-term filming of “Boyhood” with a Stephen Sondheim musical. That shows there is life after the disappointing reaction to his latest film, with Cate Blanchett as a woman branching out after a more domestic existence. Despite a wide release, it will fall short of $10 million.
After the Wedding (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4
$445,452 in 428 theaters (+347); Cumulative: $862,813
A faster-than-usual expansion for SPC for this remake (from an acclaimed Danish film) led by Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams hit the holiday weekend to maximize its potential. It remains, with mixed reviews not helping, a minor player.
Luce (Neon) Week 5
$277,200 in 235 theaters (+75); Cumulative: $1,335,000
This Sundance drama, with a top cast including Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, and Tim Roth, continues to do only minor business as it expands.
Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10
$134,227 in 180 theaters (-73); Cumulative: $2,750,000
Late in its run, this documentary about a all-woman crew sailing around the world adds to its gross as it heads to a $3 million total.
The Nightingale (IFC) Week 5
$57,124 in 75 theaters (+24); Cumulative: $333,301
Jennifer Kent’s period revenge film set in Australia is getting review attention, but so far less than her earlier acclaimed “The Babadook.”
Honeyland (Neon) Week 6
$52,270 in 42 theaters (+6); Cumulative: $384,812
Driven by reviews more than inherent interest in Macedonian beekeeping traditions, this acclaimed documentary is getting a slow national expansion with modest but steady interest.
Tel Aviv on Fire (Cohen) – $48,904 in 35 theaters; Cumulative: $376,676
Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics) in 135 theaters; Cumulative: $122,583
David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics) – $31,540 in 47 theaters; Cumulative: $509,872
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Magnolia) – $13,860 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $846,804
Jay Myself (Oscilloscope) – $13,100 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $104,349