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Kelly Reichardt’s ‘First Cow’ Opens Strong as Specialty Box Office Fans Leave Homes and Show Support

“Emma” from Focus made the top 10, while audiences showed almost no interest in Searchlight’s “Wendy.”

first cow reichardt

“First Cow”

This weekend, the specialized world showed no signs of public resistance to moviegoing. That so much of the audience is older,and perhaps more wary, is encouraging.

The successes include the opening of the acclaimed “First Cow” (A24), a couple of niche limited openers (“The Booksellers” from Greenwich with the best per-theater number), the successful expansion of “Emma” (Focus), and decent continued results for two offbeat wider and younger-audience titles: “Impractical Jokers” (truTV) and “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” (Funimation).

However, the complete failure of two higher-end titles — “Wendy” (Searchlight) and “Greed” (Sony Pictures Classics) — as they expanded in their second weekends showed audiences are picky and the success rate remains challenging.

Specialized distributors are as concerned about possible theater shutdowns as anyone in the business. At this point, no changes have been made, but sources say this has gone from a day-to-day review to an hour by hour.

Apple opened its first theatrical release “The Banker” in limited dates and mixed reviews before its streaming debut March 20. Following the example set by Netflix and Amazon, they are hiding their grosses. Netflix didn’t take any theaters for the high-profile Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg collaboration “Spenser Confidential,” listed as the top-viewed movie at the site.


First Cow (A24) Metacritic: 89; Festivals include: Telluride, New York 2019, Berlin 2020

$96,059 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $24,015

Kelly Reichardt’s films belong in the rarefied world of independent peers like Jim Jarmusch and John Sayles. Her latest, the first without any well-known actors but again set in the Pacific Northwest — and at this point, the best-reviewed release of 2020 — opened in New York and Los Angeles at about double any of her previous films.

This isn’t an awesome start compared to more easily assessible specialized titles. But for a period Western with a story about a cook and a Chinese immigrant joining forces in the frontier, it is impressive. The gross is better than “Hotel Mumbai” early last year, which went on to nearly $10 million. This likely won’t reach that. But for a director who has previously topped out at just over $1 million, it’s an excellent start.

What comes next: A steady expansion starts with the addition of top cities this week.

The Booksellers (Greenwich) Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: New York 2019

$17,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $17,000

Greenwich follows its strong initial exclusive numbers for “The Times of Bill Cunningham” (which had elevated New York interest) with an even better start for this documentary about the passion of independent bookstores and their operators. This is one of the top grosses in some time for the Quad Theater in Manhattan. In this case, the interest could easily be shared by audiences in more cities.

What comes next: This will see a slow expansion to top specialized theaters in weeks ahead.



Kino Lorber

Bacurau (Kino Lorber) Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2019

$15,210 in 2 theaters; PTA: $7,605

Brazilian film often reflects the mystical meets the radical with inventive cinematic style. A key example, and recipient of much acclaim since its Cannes debut, is this film set in a remote town. With a cast that includes Udo Kier and Sonia Braga, it already has some cult-audience potential. Its opening at two New York theaters that cater to cineastes was positive.

What comes next: Los Angeles is next this Friday.

Swallow (IFC) Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Tribeca 2019; also on Video on Demand

$14,100 in 3 theaters; PTA: $4,700

Quite decent numbers, considering this also debuted as a home rental. This psychological drama about an expectant mother who has dangerous habits got a decent sampling at its initial theaters.

What comes next: This quickly jumps to 35 cities this Friday.

Sorry We Missed You (Zeitgeist) Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2019

$9,994 in 2 theaters; PTA: $4,997; Cumulative: $12,354

Most of the gross for Ken Loach’s latest film came from New York’s Film Forum, where the numbers were representive or better than most of the veteran director’s working class-focused films. Expect this to continue to get strong reviews as it widens.

What comes next: This will hit top cities at least based on the director’s name.

The Burnt Orange Heresy (Sony PIctures Classics) Metacritic: 56; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2019

$18,296 in 4 theaters; PTA: $4,574

With an eclectic cast that includes the return of Mick Jagger as an actor, this thriller-novel adaptation set in the art world with some lush Italian settings found itself to be another mixed-review opener. Despite strong initial theaters, this failed to click.

What comes next: It’s SPC, so expect to see it if even briefly everywhere.

Extra Ordinary (Good Deed) Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: SXSW 2019

$83,954 in 32 theaters; PTA: $2,623

There’s a bit of life in the multi-city opening of this Irish comedy crossover genre film about an ordinary woman who seems to have the powers of a medium. These numbers are decent enough, particularly at some Drafthouse theaters, to serve as a launch for more attention.

What comes next: This should begin wider exposure this week.

Hope Gap (Roadside Attractions) Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Toronto 2019

$32,655 in 18 theaters; PTA: $1,814

Set in an English coastal town and starting Annette Bening, this film follows an older couple getting divorced. It received top theater placement in major cities, but mixed reviews helped hold it back with mediocre results.

What comes next: The pedigree of its cast and Roadside’s reach should ensure more bookings. But this looks to have limited appeal.

Made in Hong Kong (Metrograph) (reissue)

$12,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,000

Opening in the U.S. for the first time more than 20 years after its Hong Kong release, Fruit Chan’s existential comedy/thriller triad film saw impressive numbers even with little review attention.

What comes next: This number should garner this a lot of attention at appropriate theaters.


“My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising”


Week Two

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Funimation)

$1,500,000 in 620 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,419; Cumulative: $12,000,000

This animated Manga animation is way down from last weekend when it grossed $5.8 million and placed fourth. But for an event film with uncertain prospects, anything additional is a bonus.

Saint Frances (Oscilloscope)

$14,200 in 4 theaters (+3); PTA: $3,555; Cumulative: $31,640

Most of the gross for this acclaimed feminist comedy came from its opening at the Arclight Hollywood, where it will take in a decent $9,000 or so. Other dates are lagging.

Wendy (Searchlight)

$45,000 in 69 theaters (+65); PTA: $652; Cumulative: $74,979

Benh Zeitlin’s long-anticipated second film found very little interest. Its second-weekend expansion to top big-city theaters found close to zero response.

Greed (Sony Pictures Classics)

$213,799 in 596 theaters (+592); PTA: $359; Cumulative: $244,874

SPC usually goes for slower rollouts. It appears they anticipated that Michael Winterbottom’s latest would not click and gained an impressive total of dates to get it over with. Still, these are rock-bottom results with a PTA that equates to around 80-90 tickets per screen for the whole weekend.

Burden (101)

$40,205 in 31 theaters (+26); PTA: $1,297; Cumulative: $68,243

The victory came from this 2018 Sundance prize winner getting a release after a two-year delay. This church-centered drama about racial reconciliation isn’t getting much traction as it expanded to top theaters in its second weekend.


Focus Features

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Emma (Focus) Week 3

$5,000,000 in 1,565 theaters (+1,468); Cumulative: $6,900,000

Blasting out wide in its third week, similar to other Focus crossover films, this Jane Austen adaptation placed #6 overall and at the high end of predictions. It remains a niche/high-end title, without the mass push, star names, top director, holiday play, and awards attention that boosted ”Little Women.” But it is riding a similar wave. The Cinemascore was B, which is middling, but this is the sort of film that often finds passionate interest to push it forward. These numbers guarantee multi-week interest and a path to a $20 million or better gross.

Impractical Jokers: The Movie  (truTV) Week 3

$2,078,000 in 1,775 theaters (-125);  Cumulative: $8,980,000

1917 (Universal) Week 12

$1,370,000 in 1,535 theaters (-697);  Cumulative: $158,290,000

Falling out of the top 10 after two months, Sam Mendes’ World War I effort is still adding to its impressive total. The best recent comparison — “Dunkirk” — topped out at $190 million.

Parasite (Neon) Week 22; also on Video on Demand

$638,000 in 625 theaters (-699);  Cumulative: $52,812,000

Heading into its sixth month in theaters, third available as a home option, this has yet to place lower than #17. It still was #15 this weekend despite losing more than half its screens.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon) Week 5

$540,000 in 344 theaters (+266);  Cumulative: $3,362,000

Still continuing its decent total (more so for a subtitled film), Celine Sciamma’s acclaimed romance looks like all specialized, non-English titles not named “Parasite” in recent years.

Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight) Week 21; also on Video on Demand

$97,0000 in 151 theaters (-148); Cumulative: $33,322,000

Weeks into its home availability, this comedy keeps on adding to its total. More than 40 percent has come since its Oscar nominations.

Ordinary Love (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$59,241 in 125 theaters (+103);  Cumulative: $275,407

Leslie Manville and Liam Neeson have gotten acclaim for this Northern Ireland-set drama of a couple dealing with illness, but its subject matter muted interest. Its expansion this weekend found only around $500 per theater.

The Lodge (Neon) Week 5

$53,050 in 96 theaters (-299);  Cumulative: $1,655,000

This niche horror film got some initial interest not seen in its wider release. The result was a big drop in theaters and the end of its run.

Also noted:

CatVideoFest 2020  (Oscilloscope) – $41,150 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $478,775

The Assistant (Bleecker Street) – $27,886 in 55 theaters; Cumulative: $1,078,000

Seberg (Amazon) -$26,860 in 213 theaters; Cumulative: $414,781

And Then We Danced (Music Box) – $21,424 in 23 theaters; Cumulative – $162,266

Downhill (Searchlight – $21,000 in 69 theaters; Cumulative – $8.276,000

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