This week’s Oscar nominations boosted contenders “1917” (Universal) and “Parasite” (Neon) to further box-office gains. Other nominees saw little impact, from “Bombshell” (Lionsgate) to the second week expansion of French Oscar entry “Les Miserables” (Amazon). While some Oscar also-rans fell short, crowdpleaser “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros.) managed just fine. Such is the uneven impact of the award that dominates the specialized world for nearly half the year.
Even when results don’t meet expectations, things still work out. That’s the case with “Weathering With You” (GKids), the Japanese animated smash that in five days has already in national release grossed $5 million. That’s a nice reminder that innovative strategies, such as initial event weekday showings, can bring success outside the conventional limited release pattern.
After a Los Angeles qualifying run, Alex Gibney’s Russia expose “Citizen K” (Greenwich), about an exiled billionaire dissident opponent of Vladimir Putin, opened in New York for a strong $10,500 for the weekend. The WGA award contender will expand to further theaters in upcoming weeks (six this Friday), without a hoped for documentary Oscar nomination but still showing appeal.
Weathering With You (GKids) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Toronto 2019
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$1,731,000 in 486 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,562; Cumulative: $5,074,000
Even though the #1 film in Japan last year failed to land either Best International Feature Film or Animated Feature Oscar nods, the movie started off its domestic run in spectacular style. From Makoto Shinkai, whose “Your Name.” grossed $5 million three years ago, the movie launched Wednesday and Thursday with event screenings (it was #2 overall both days), followed by regular showings this weekend at nearly 500 theaters nationwide to become the biggest grossing film from GKids, which has released most major international animated films in recent years (though not “Your Name.”)
What comes next: The holiday Monday will boost this more, and these grosses will extend its run and get additional interest for this early-year sleeper success.
VHYes (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Fantastic 2019
$28,000 in 22 theaters; PTA: $1,272
Shot on VHS and resembling earlier found-footage films, this comedy about a pre-teen’s adventures with a video camera follows initial successful festival showings with a multi-city release as an event (not full show) release. It sparked interest in some initial showings.
What comes next: This will roll out to additional cities over upcoming weeks.
SRAB Films/Rectangle Productions/Lyly films
Les Miserables (Amazon)
$66,569 in 42 theaters (+38); PTA: $1,585; Cumulative: $103,202
Major ad buys and the International Feature Film Oscar nomination were in play for this bigger-than-usual second weekend expansion for a specialized subtitled release. The result remains minor, similar to its platform dates last weekend. Despite the “Parasite” box office, this reminds how hard it is to get audiences interested in non-English films.
Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)
1917 (Universal) Week 4
$22,100,000 in 3,612 theaters (+178); Cumulative: $76,800,000
The 40% second-wide-weekend drop is a positive sign for Sam Mendes’ Globe-and-PGA-winning World War I event film. The Martin Luther King holiday, Oscar nominations, and additional theaters helped to boost the total. For context, the last major studio wide release parallel to Oscar nominations was “The Revenant.” That dropped only 20% its second weekend, with the same elements in play, and from a higher previous weekend gross. That suggests this film, with clearly good word of mouth and wind at its back, doesn’t have quite the same momentum. It fell the #3 this weekend, behind new openers “Bad Boys for Life” and “Dolittle.”
Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) Week 4
$6,000,000 in 2,457 theaters (+82); Cumulative: $19,613,000
Despite not getting a hoped for Supporting Actor Oscar nod for SAG-nominee Jamie Foxx, this capital punishment legal drama dropped only 38% this weekend. With terrific word of mouth and Warner’s ongoing support, this could be around for a while.
Parasite (Neon) Week 15
$1,745,000 in 843 theaters (+498); Cumulative: $27,733,000
Still at a $2,000+ PTA despite a big theater count jump and playing only partial shows, this still strong Korean film has more to add ahead of general home viewing availability on January 28. Figure it reaches at least $32 million.
Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight) Week 14
$1,400,000 in 1,005 theaters (+880); Cumulative: $23,500,000
While “Jojo” has been in theaters more than 90 days, Searchlight is delaying its post-theatrical play for Taika Waititi’s comedy Oscar contender. This weekend raised their gross further as they push toward a possible $30 million.
Uncut Gems (A24) Week 6
$1,200,000 in 930 theaters (-1,151); Cumulative: $46,129,000.
The Safdie Bros. edgy drama with Adam Sandler may end up just shy of A24’s best gross (“Lady Bird” at $49 million), but it did this total without either Oscar nods or the usual 10% or greater boost from Canadian grosses (since the film like the rest of the world will play on Netflix there). It stands as their biggest U.S. domestic grosser at this point.
Bombshell (Lionsgate) Week 6
$630,000 in 410 theaters (-879); Cumulative: $29,430,000
A big drop in theater totals and a bigger percentage drop in gross this week for Jay Roach’s Fox News #MeToo film, despite three nominations (including two for acting).
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 16
$95,522 in 167 theaters (+63); Cumulative: $4,192,000
With transitioning to home viewing now starting, Pedro Almodovar’s Best Actor and International Film nominee will end up with a gross close to our estimate for Netflix’s “Roma” and Amazon’s “Cold War” last year, and ahead of Magnolia’s “Shoplifters.”
The Song of Names (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5
$90,522 in 76 theaters (+6); Cumulative: $482,253
This post-World War II story with Tim Roth and Clive Owen reconnecting with each other after decades continues its modest limited play.
Harriet (Focus) Week 12
$68,000 in 95 theaters (-27); Cumulative: $43,017,000
Little change from last week’s gross for this Best Actress and Song nominated biopic which has already reached an impressive total.
Invisible Life (Amazon) – $23,958 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $119,279
Clemency (Neon) – $17,949 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $135,081
Citizen K (Greenwich) – $10,500 in 1 theater; Cumulative: $37,123