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‘Emma’ and ‘Saint Frances’ Score, but Two Specialty Box Office Surprises Make the Top 10

"My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" and "Impractical Jokers: The Movie" are box-office hits, and reflect an impressive new strategy by big studios.


“My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising”


Emma” (Focus) had a strong initial second weekend expansion, but the top news comes from two unexpected niche releases. The top 10 successes of “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” (Funimation) and the second weekend of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” (truTV) suggest new paths to theatrical success.

An exclusive date for “Saint Frances” (Oscilloscope) stood out in a weekend that saw poor initial play for “Wendy” (Searchlight) and “Greed” (Sony Pictures Classics) — films with top directors and mediocre or worse reviews.


My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Funimation) – Metacritic: 71

$5,109,000 in 1,260 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,054; Cumulative: $8,482,000

Where did this come from? This second film from the popular Manga action comic opened on Wednesday from Funimation, a Sony Pictures-related company, with the top gross opening day. But rather than just play like an event as similar films, it continued its run to end up as the surprise #4 film overall this weekend.

It’s good to see studio-associated companies, separate from their specialized units, experiment. It’s the result of distributors and theaters thinking outside the rules, while still foregrounding theatrical potential.

What comes next: With this gross and consistent showing, expand much demand for more theaters ahead.

“Saint Frances”

Oscilloscope Laboratories

Saint Frances (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: SXSW 2019

$16,150 in 1 theater; PTA: $16,150

Although it scored a higher-end PTA among this weekend’s openings, it opened at only one theater. Still, the result was impressive. At New York’s Angelika, it came in second only to the high-flying “Emma” and ahead of other new openers from top companies with better-known creators. The plot here revolves around a woman in her mid-30s who finds herself totally out of her element as a nanny for the child of a lesbian couple, and must confront multiple crosscurrents in her life. The originality, insight into how life can be shaped by unexpected events, and nuanced handling by Oscilloscope paid off and it now has a chance to find an audience.

What comes next: The Los Angeles exclusive date is at the Arclight Hollywood this weekend, with a specialized national rollout following.

Wendy (Searchlight) – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Sundance 2020

$30,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $7,500

Benh Zeitlin’s long-gestating second feature comes after the major acclaim of his 2011 debut “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which scored a Best Director Oscar nomination. However, it fell flat with a weak initial start at major New York/Los Angeles theaters. Reviews were mostly mixed and disappointing for this Peter Pan adaptation that had a tone not unlike “Beasts.” It’s a discouraging result after such a long wait.

What comes next: Ten new cities come on board this weekend.


Greed (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 50; Festivals include: Toronto 2019

$28,496 in 4 theaters; PTA: $7,124

Veteran British director Michael Winterbottom (recently popular for his franchise “The Trip,” which will see its fourth installment this year) often makes films that combine serious themes with a more commercial veneer. This one reunites him with frequent star Steve Coogan as a billionaire fashion mogul whose empire is built on the back of poorly paid Asian workers. The satire got flat reviews, and a flatter result in its initial top-drawer New York/Los Angeles theaters.

What comes next: This will get a wide big-city release from SPC, but expect results that are not much better.


“The Whistlers”

The Whistlers (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2019

$(est.) 19,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 6,333

Coreliu Porumbolu has been the best known of the Romanian New Wave directors. This is his first film with some scenes outside his native country, and has more of a genre feel than his earlier serious dramas. With strong reviews, it had a decent initial result on the scale of most subtitled films in its first New York/Los Angeles dates.

What comes next: This should see dates ahead in most prime arthouse locations across the country.


Burden (101) – Metacritic: 58;  Festivals include: Sundance 2018

$20,142 in 5 theaters; PTA: $4,028

The triumph here was finding a release, two years after its Sundance Audience Award. It lacks the kind of review support that might have boosted this. A true story of a white supremacist and his journey to change, this was always likely to be a tougher sell even with some names in the cast. Newer distributor 101 gets credit for scoring top initial New York/Los Angeles theaters, but this initial result won’t propel wide interest.

What comes next: Expect this to see further play though of the limited variety ahead.


Focus Features

Week Two

Emma (Focus)

$1,170,000 in 97 theaters (+92); PTA: $12,000; Cumulative: $1,471,000

This latest Jane Austen adaptation reaffirms a lesson of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”: Classic novels with strong female characters remain a viable source of IP for film adaptations. The fairly rapid second weekend expansion is performing at a level that looks particularly strong outside the awards window, while benefiting from being a fresh film at a time when newness is needed. A much wider national expansion is set for this Friday.

Impractical Jokers: The Movie (truTV)

$3,545,000 in 1,900 theaters (+1,543); PTA: $1,866; Cumulative: $6,622,000

The Funny or Die troupe goes on a road trip, with its big second-weekend expansion after a surprisingly strong start. It landed at #7 with a marketing campaign driven by social media. This is an offshoot of Warner Bros., and along with “Academia,” a case of big-studio forces capturing a niche response. Well played.

Seberg (Amazon)

$207,534 in 373 theaters (+370); PTA: $556; Cumulative: $260,499

Disastrous second weekend expansion for Kristen Stewart’s turn as the iconic actress. She got fine reviews, but the film didn’t. The remaining question is how much this release will add to its Prime interest when it streams.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (Magnolia)

$(est.) 150,000 in 136 theaters (+132); PTA: (est.) $1,389) in ; Cumulative: $(est.) 199,000

Second weekend saw a big expansion for this documentary about one of the most important groups in rock history. This is a modest result, but enough to see more play.

CatVideoFest 2019 (Oscilloscope)

$157,000 in 30 theaters (-4); PTA: $5,223; Cumulative: $397,787

Terrific second weekend hold for this now perennial event that looks to have more potential ahead.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

1917 (Universal) Week 10

$2,670,000 in 2,292 theaters (-493); Cumulative: $155,870,000

$23 million post-Oscars and still in the top 10 is a major triumph for Sam Mendes’ film. It has reached $362 million worldwide.

Parasite (Neon) Week 21; also on Video on Demand

$1,506,000 in 1,324 theaters (-479); Cumulative: $51,553,000

Out of the top 10 (though still ranking there on rental charts, multiple weeks into its home debut), the Best Picture winner continues on its way to around $54 million-$55 million domestic. So far, it has added $17 million post-win.

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire"

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”


Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon) Week 4

$730,000 in 268 theaters (+133); Cumulative: $2,453,000

Celine Sciamma’s French period romance, one of the best-reviewed releases of 2019, barely increased its gross despite doubling its screens. It should get close or ahead of the recent ceiling for specialized subtitled films not named “Parasite” ($4 million-$5 million, perhaps a little higher), but it is not breaking out quite as much as initially seemed possible. It remains impressive that it has gotten out to so many theaters so soon.

The Lodge (Neon) Week 4

$256,000 in 393 theaters (+71); Cumulative: $1,440,000

While this saw early interest from younger audiences at hipper theaters, this genre entry petered out with expansion. At its widest point, this fell short of $1,000/theater this weekend.

Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight) Week 20; also on VOD

$225000 in 307 theaters (-78); Cumulative: $33,119,000

Now doing decently in home rentals, Taika Waititi’s long-running film still is getting theater interest in its final weeks.

Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) Week 10

$171,000 in 300 theaters (-123); Cumulative: $35,733,000

What keeps propelling this now long-running death penalty legal drama? Weekday group sale shows, which are keeping it on screen.

Downhill (Searchlight) Week 3

$175,000 in 677 theaters (-1,634); Cumulative: $8,129,000

Token shows at remaining theaters will average only around $300 each. This initially wide Julia Louis-Dreyfuss/Will Ferrell effort will fall short of $9 million, despite hopes for much better.

The Assistant (Bleecker Street) Week 5

$105,090 in 155 theaters (-130); Cumulative: $986,655

After its widest play, this very well-reviewed drama about the toxic culture affecting those close to sexual predators is not getting the viewing it deserves.

Ordinary Love (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$83,174 in 70 theaters (+48); Cumulative: $179,387

Liam Neeson and Leslie Manville as a Northern Irish couple dealing with a medical crisis is falling short of traction as it goes into more cities.

Bombshell (Lionsgate) Week 12

$55,000 in 113 theaters (+33); Cumulative: $31,724,000

A final addition of theaters pushes this initially platformed, then Oscar-winning #MeToo themed film close to its mixed-result total of $32 million.

Also noted:

And Then We Danced (Music Box) – $26,755 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $128,278

The Last Full Measure (Roadside Attractions) – $24,950 in 60 theaters; Cumulative: $2,898,000

The Traitor (Sony Pictures Classics) – $18,435 in 31 theaters; Cumulative: $261,586

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