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‘Emma’ Debuts as Top Specialized Opener While truTV Wins With ‘Impractical Jokers’

As specialized theaters leave the Oscars behind, new box office successes range from Jane Austen to reality TV.




Emma.” (Focus) — yes, there is a period in the official title — had a stellar start, more so for an early-year release as specialized theaters wean themselves off awards. “Seberg” (Amazon) also had a respectable reopening (after a one-week qualifier), while two “event”-type reality releases — “Impractical Jokers” (truTV) and  “CatVideoFest 2020” (Oscilloscope) — also impressed in multi-city showings.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Neon) had an aggressive second-week expansion, with results showing that while (of course) it’s no “Parasite,” it is doing far better than nearly all other recent subtitled releases. The range of responses to multiple new films is encouraging.


Emma. (Focus) Metacritic: 69

$230,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $46,000

This is the top specialized opener so far this year, ahead of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” in its initial four New York/Los Angeles theaters. It’s also the second PTA to see more than $40,000, and that’s two more than we in the first quarter of 2019. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the Jane Austen classic has seen multiple adaptations, and had only favorable but hardly ecstatic reviews, no star power (unlike the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow), and no advance festival publicity. The “Emma.” PTA falls a little short of the 1996 version, and it probably won’t gross quite as much ($50 million adjusted). Still, expect crossover interest and a strong total.

What comes next: This goes to about 100 theaters in 25 cities this Friday.

Impractical Jokers: The Movie (truTV)

$2,609,000 in 357 theaters; PTA: $7,308

This is a surprise. “Impractical Jokers” is a long-running reality TV show produced by Warner Bros. TV and Funny or Die, and broadcast on truTV. Now it’s expanded to a feature adaptation with a nationwide theatrical release, and it’s resonated with fans beyond all expectations. Falling just outside the top 10, this got into the right theaters and proved to be more than a one-day event. Comedies have been in shorter supply of late, brands can sell, and this one clicked.

What comes next: With numbers like these, expect theaters to clamor for expansion.



Amazon Studios

Seberg (Amazon) Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2019

$60,487 in 3 theaters; PTA: $20,162

Kristin Stewart as the legendary, tragic screen icon had a minor qualifying run in  December (not included so far in these numbers) that got mixed reviews. The number is decent for a returning title without a review boost — a $20,000 PTA is unusual this time of year — but the numbers fell Saturday after the initial stronger preview/Friday combined totals.

What comes next: This will expand wide nationally this Friday.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (Magnolia)  Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Toronto, Doc NYC 2019

$41,500 in 4 theaters; PTA: $10,375

A look back at one of the all-time great groups with the focus on Robbie Robertson, this documentary had a decent initial response in four New York/Los Angeles dates similar to other music-focused films.

What comes next: It will have 150 theaters this Friday.

CatVideoFest 2020 (Oscilloscope)

$220,150 in 30 theaters; PTA: $7,338

Despite recent evidence to the contrary, cats have appeal. This is the second theatrical compilation of cat videos (it carries an IMDb credit for one Alex P. Kitten). The first one went on to gross $538,000 worldwide; this will do more.

What comes next: 200 theaters in 80 markets.

Ride Your Wave (GKids)   Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Annecy 2019

$15,430 in 12  theaters; PTA: $1,286; Cumulative: $316,129

The steady stream of Japanese anime films continues. This had a mid-week event showing of $300,000 ahead of a limited weekend presence.

What comes next: Most of the take is in.


Sundance Film Festival

Premature (IFC) Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Sundance 2019; also on Video on Demand

$11,089 in 4 theaters; PTA: $2,772

This very well-received American indie from Sundance 2019 about a Harlem teen girl facing relationship issues as she heads to college had a New York/Los Angeles four-theater start parallel to home viewing. The excellent reviews should help bring attention there, with these numbers around average or a bit more for this sort of release.

What comes next: IFC usually gets further big-city theatrical runs, but most of the viewing will be at home.

Come and See (Janus) (reissue)

$16,217 in 1 theater; PTA: $16,217

Very high-end reaction to this 1985 Soviet Union-made World War II epic. It opened at New York’s Film Forum (along with a single show at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, added into the total). This is not as well known as many revivals, making the initial interest here more impressive.

What comes next: This is more of a repertory release, but expect it to hit most major cities in some form.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

Week Two

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon)

$715,000 in 130 theaters (+108); PTA: $5,500; Cumulative: $1,450,000

Neon remains confident and original in its release strategy. Going this deep in the country week two after its multi-city debut showed some very good to more mixed response. This acclaimed French period romance between two women screened in 130 theaters, which is one more theater than “Parasite” in its third weekend. No subtitled film should be expected to replicate the success of “Parasite,” so grossing about 40% as much as the Oscar winner is impressive. At a time when specialized non-English films rarely reach $5 million, this will likely pass that with further expansion. Next weekend will tell the story.


$1,432,000 in 2,311 theaters (+10); PTA: $620; Cumulative: $7,404,000

A 69% drop weekend two for this Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Will Farrell remake of “Force Majeure” in wide play makes this a candidate for a short life in theaters ahead.

Ordinary Love (Bleecker Street)

$44,251 in 16 theaters (+13); PTA: $2,107; Cumulative: $75,511

Mediocre top city expansion for this critically well-received story of a couple facing a cancer crisis with Leslie Manville and Liam Neeson.

The Times of Bill Cunningham (Greenwich)

$29,178 in 8 theaters (+6); PTA: $3,647; Cumulative: $81,673

Multiple theaters opened in Los Angeles in week two. Overall results are less than what its two-theater New York debut suggested, but the journalism/fashion theme should continue see a response as it expands.




Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

1917 (Universal) Week 9

$4,400,000 in 2,725 theaters (+641); Cumulative: $151,990,000

Universal added several hundred theaters this week, which helped keep this in the #6 position and headed for a possible $170 million domestic total. That’s terrific, particularly without the Best Picture win.

Parasite (Neon) Week 20; also VOD

$3,121,000 in 1,805 theaters (-196); Cumulative: $48,942,000

This marks 20 weeks, placing no lower than #17. No film has achieved that since “Frozen,” which achieved that for 21 weeks (“Parasite” will beat that, although “Titanic” holds the modern record at 35 weeks.) It has added nearly $15 million since its Best Picture win.

The Lodge (Neon) Week 3

$625,000 in 322 theaters (+301); Cumulative: $921,282

This genre entry from Neon has expanded quickly to a combination of younger-oriented (particularly Alamo) theaters and multiplexes. It is doing better at the former, and overall looks like it may remain more of a niche than crossover success.

Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight) Week 19; also on VOD

$500,000 in 385 theaters (-99); Cumulative: $32,800,000

Now transitioning to home viewing, Taika Waititi’s comedy will end up with around a $14 million boost after its nominations.

Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) Week 9

$270,000 in 423 theaters (-423); Cumulative: $35,412,000

Its big wins at the NAACP Awards confirm the impact this death penalty story, with a decent gross for its mid-level size release.

The Assistant (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$221,515 in 167 theaters (+142); Cumulative: $795,302

This timely and compelling drama has widened quickly with mixed results. With some more play it might still approach $2 million, not bad for an early-year release.

Uncut Gems (A24) Week 11

$73,304 in 92 theaters (-126); Cumulative: $49,942,000

This film is still seeing theatrical interest after 11 weeks, A24’s best release to date.

Bombshell (Lionsgate) Week 11

$63,500 in 80 theaters (-48); Cumulative: $31,639,000

Late in its run, this will end up around $32 million.

The Traitor (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$52,875 in 45 theaters (+16); Cumulative: $224,099

This 1980s Sicilian-set heroin wars drama is still in early big city release, with continued minimal response.

Also noted:

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words  (Manifold) – $32,912 in 53 theaters; Cumulative: $243,382

Beanpole (Kino Lorber) – $28,985 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $107,789

And Then We Danced (Music Box) – $27,214 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $83,949

Weathering With You (GKids) – $22,607 in 15 theaters;  Cumulative: $7,760,000

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