The fall specialty box office continues strong as recent openers expand to more theaters. “The Lighthouse” (A24) lead the way by jumping to more than 500 screens as “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight) and “Parasite” (Neon) continue to perform above expectations. And two holdovers from Roadside Attractions passed the $20 million mark this weekend near the top of the specialty charts: “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and “Judy.”
But the experimental IMAX release of Kanye West’s short “Jesus Is King” (IMAX) and the Fathom Events-previewed Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars” (Warner Bros.) yielded lackluster results. While IMAX is pushing such alternate content onto its big screens, both films might have made more sense as streaming presentations. Meantime, “No Safe Spaces” (Atlas), a documentary featuring prominent conservative voices Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla, scored a stunning $45,000 at a single Phoenix theater.
Jesus Is King (IMAX) – Metacritic: 61
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$(est.) $862,000 in 372 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,151
Kanye West launched this 31-minute giant-screen cinematic experience to push his upcoming high-profile album via IMAX, which charged 2D ticket prices. His most ardent fans showed up early for the Thursday preview and opening night Friday shows. It’s hard to gauge this level of gross for a gospel-music-in-church half-hour short, as it played limited showings around other movies such as “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” without a full release. IMAX reports sellouts in 17 North American cities including New York, Toronto, L.A. and Chicago, as well as others overseas, where the short grossed another $175,000 on 68 screens in 12 markets. (By contrast, 2016 concert documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” scored $785,000 in 85 theaters.) Give IMAX credit for reaching out to audiences with alternative fare.
What comes next: This plays all week, which will be it for its theatrical life.
Western Stars (Warner Bros.) – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: Toronto 2019
$560,000 in 537 theaters; PTA: $1,043; Cumulative: $1,000,000
Another top musician going cinematic to parallel his new record, co-director Bruce Springsteen also scored event treatment with initial weekend day Fathom showings–which provided a big portion of the grosses. The three-day totals at mostly top theaters came in with just over $1,000 per theater. That’s weak.
What comes next: This part-documentary, part-narrative film will end up grossing far less than several recent music star documentaries. It has a limited theatrical future.
No Safe Spaces (Atlas)
$45,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $45,000
It’s no secret that right-wing polemical documentaries have as much or more theatrical appeal as left-wing ones. This latest example initially is high end. Presented by comedian Adam Carolla and talk-show host Dennis Prager, this film claiming repression of political speech (which includes voices from many sides, including some left-wing) opened in one Phoenix theater to a staggering $45,000. These remarkable results presage interest ahead.
What comes next: This expands in Phoenix this week and opens in San Diego and Denver ahead of a wider release.
Frankie (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Cannes 2019
$22,941 in 4 theaters; PTA: $5,510
Director Ira Sachs has been an indie mainstay for many years. His recent “Love Is Strange” broke out ahead of his past films. This Portugal-set family drama with Isabelle Huppert got into the main competition at Cannes. But a repetition of decidedly mixed reviews took its toll for its initial New York/Los Angeles dates, with a mediocre initial result.
What comes next: SPC boasts access to key theaters and could finds more success with this film as it reaches the heartland.
Synonyms (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Berlin 2019
$19,070 in 2 theaters; PTA: $9,535
Strong initial New York opening for this Israeli drama about a man trying to lose himself in France. Though other recent subtitled openers from established directors have done more business, this is above average for what similar titles do these days.
What comes next: Several new cities including Los Angeles begin the national expansion this Friday.
Going Attractions: The Definitive History of the Movie Palace (Passion River)
$1,490 in 2 theaters; PTA: $745
It’s a niche subject, but credit to Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles (which has operated some classic theaters) for showcasing this documentary about a different era of movie exhibition. It didn’t reach many people, but at least it brought notice to a cinephile subject.
What comes next: This shows in four more Laemmle locations this Monday and Tuesday before moving into other upcoming cities including Seattle.
Downtown 81 (Metrograph) (reissue)
$25,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $25,000
This documentary about painter Jean Michel Basquiat, first released to minimal gross in 2001, had a strong revival at New York’s Metrograph theater. Their distribution arm has the film for national release.
What comes next: This gross will get attention and wider national play.
The Lighthouse (A24)
$3,083,000 in 586 theaters (+578); PTA: $5,261; Cumulative: $3,663,000
Robert Pattinson’s starring role is boosting this specialized title far above expectations, with help from strong reviews and Oscar perennial Willem Dafoe. Thus “The Lighthouse” scored an impressive wide expansion and an overall #8 placement for the weekend. Next weekend will show more signs of how far this can cross over.
Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
$1,041,000 in 55 theaters (+50); PTA: $18,927; Cumulative: $1,500,000
A strong second weekend big-city expansion for Taika Waititi’s fantasy about a boy in Nazi Germany. Though impressive, the PTA is not at the level of “Parasite” in its second weekend in somewhat fewer theaters. As “Jojo” expands it has every chance of reaching as wide an audience or more.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (Saban)
$219,397 in 17 (+13) theaters; PTA: $12,906; Cumulative: $1,571,000
The Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes road tour added stops in Minnesota and Iowa this weekend (with much higher than usual ticket prices) to continue the successful event presentation of this sequel to earlier series entries. Columbus, Houston, and San Antonio are up next for the in-person show.
By the Grace of God (Music Box) 2
$8,448 in 2 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,224; Cumulative: $19,603
Francois Ozon’s most recent French film added Los Angeles this weekend with this priest/ child abuse film continuing to fall short of the director’s previous releases. That’s typical of the decline of most French films in recent years.
Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)
Parasite (Neon) Week 3
$1,820,000 in 129 theaters (+92); Cumulative: $4,107,000
This high-end South Korean release is less stratospheric as it expands further, but the con-artist movie has already surpassed the reported grosses of any specialized subtitled release in recent years. It’s now passing the estimated total of “Roma,” which had streaming availability (and costly Netflix marketing behind it) for most of its three-month run. “Parasite” is showing strength at both top art houses but wider appeal multiplexes.
Judy (Roadside Attractions) Week 5
$1,189,000 in 1,121 theaters (-297); Cumulative: $21,515,000
This strong run — both as a theatrical and awards performer — continues with this Judy Garland portrayal looking like it should reach at least $25 million.
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4
$430,097 in 117 theaters (+50); Cumulative: $1,685,000
Pedro Almodovar’s latest in its still early stages looks to headed to the highest total of any of his films in over a decade. Its PTA in its fourth weekend is not that far behind “Parasite” in a similar number of theaters.
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich) Week 8
$144,677 in 134 theaters (-13); Cumulative: $3,775,509
The staying power of this documentary on the iconic singer continues as it plays on late in its run. Already one of the top grossing docs of the year, it will pass $4 million easily.
The Peanut Butter Falcon (Roadside Attractions) Week 12
$115,420 in 166 theaters (-72); Cumulative: $20,079,000
Nearly three months into its run, this wrestling-world sleeper has passed the $20 million mark. That’s only the third initially platformed film to do this in 2019.
Fantastic Fungi (A23a) Week 6
$60,867 in 14 theaters (+8); Cumulative: $284,589
The PTA actually increased as more theaters were added this weekend. That’s unusual and impressive as this documentary about key life forms seems to be finding a wider audience.
Where’s My Roy Cohn? (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$51,725 in 51 theaters (-15); Cumulative: $582,369
Coming off its highest grosses, this documentary on the infamous Red baiter will end up with a respectable total for a film that is meant as a feel-good entry.
Official Secrets (IFC) – $25,427 in 45 theaters; Cumulative: $1,957,000
Cyrano, My Love (Roadside Attractions) – $11,200 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $321,686