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‘French Dispatch’ and ‘Last Night in Soho’ Start to Lift Stagnant Specialty Box Office

While festival favorites like "Spencer" and "The Souvenir Part II" haven't yet cracked the top specialty earners, proven standbys Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright are bringing in the bucks.

"Last Night in Soho"

“Last Night in Soho”

Focus Features

After a decidedly lax few weeks at the specialty box office, new entries from reliable auteurs Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright have given the market a lift, even as festival hits from Pablo Larraín and Joanna Hogg failed to light up the big screen during their recent theatrical premieres. Both Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” — each set for 2020 premieres, before being pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic — have enjoyed strong early play, already entering our list of the top 10 best-performing indie and specialty films of the year.

Another unexpected top 10 entry: Scott Cooper’s horror thriller “Antlers,” another Searchlight Pictures holdover from its initial 2020 slate, which is trailing just behind “Last Night in Soho.” It’s the second horror-centric entry on the list from Searchlight, clocking in just above David Bruckner’s “The Night House,” which the studio released in August after debuting at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Of interest: “The Night House” stars “Passing” filmmaker Rebecca Hall, whose debut feature just enjoyed a brief theatrical run before heading to Netflix this week; too bad then that Netflix does not report box office numbers, as Hall might be in line for a two-fer.)

As awards season starts to hit its peak, more contenders are bound for the specialty box office, and while Larraín’s “Spencer” and Hogg’s “The Souvenir Part II” have failed to crack our list of top 20 performers, potential nominations and accolades from awards bodies might lift them, too. And still to come: “Belfast,” “The Humans,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Red Rocket,” “Cyrano,” and more. The specialty sector isn’t out of contention just yet, and neither are the rest of its big-time 2021 releases to come.

Our list includes domestic (U.S. and Canada only, unless otherwise indicated) grosses for specialty films — which we define as independent, foreign (including Bollywood films), and/or documentary films — that opened in limited release (599 screens and under) in 2021. They also may include titles acquired or produced for 2021 distribution by an independent distributor (including but not limited to STX Films, Annapurna, United Artists Releasing, A24, Entertainment Studios, IFC Films, Magnolia Pictures, Open Road, and Bleecker Street) or a studio’s specialty division (including Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, and Focus Features).

Given the rapidly changing state of the box office world (and its attendant reporting), this list only includes movies that opened in theaters during 2021, including brick-and-mortar businesses and drive-ins. For more information on streaming and VOD box office takes, please check out our weekly updates in those markets right here. When provided, this list also includes budgets for each film. Last year’s list can be found here.

Grosses include all reported grosses (via BoxOfficeMojo or as provided by a film’s representative) up to November 9, 2021. This chart is updated every Tuesday afternoon (or Wednesday afternoon after holiday weekends).

1. “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train”
Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: April 23
Opening Theater Count: 1,600
Opening Average: $13,215
Current Gross: $47,700,000

2. “Wrath of Man”
Distributor: United Artists Releasing
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: May 5
Opening Theater Count: 2,875
Opening Average: $2,890
Current Gross: $27,466,489

The Green Knight

“The Green Knight”

Courtesy of A24

3. “The Green Knight”
Distributor: A24
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: July 30
Opening Theater Count: 2,790
Opening Average: $2,417
Current Gross: $17,173,321

4. “The Marksman”
Distributor: Open Road Films
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: January 15
Opening Theater Count: 1,975
Opening Average: $1,571
Current Gross: $15,566,093

5. “Stillwater”
Distributor: Focus Features
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: July 30
Opening Theater Count: 2,531
Opening Average: $2,049
Current Gross: $14,465,535

6. “The French Dispatch”
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: October 22
Opening Theater Count: 52
Opening Average: $25,938
Current Gross: $8,452,021

The French Dispatch

“The French Dispatch”

Searchlight

7. “Last Night in Soho”
Distributor: Focus Features
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: October 29
Opening Theater Count: 3,016
Opening Average: $1,385
Current Gross: $7,640,510

8. “Antlers”
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: October 29
Opening Theater Count: 2,800
Opening Average: $1,525
Current Gross: $7,577,158

9. “The Protege”
Distributor: Lionsgate
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: August 20
Opening Theater Count: 2,577
Opening Average: $1,128
Current Gross: $7,446,823

10. “The Night House”
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: August 20
Opening Theater Count: 2,240
Opening Average: $1,276
Current Gross: $7,100,581

The Night House

“The Night House”

YouTube/screenshot

11. “The Courier”
Distributor: Roadside Attractions (acquired at Sundance 2020)
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: March 19
Opening Theater Count: 1,443
Opening Average: $1,313
Current Gross: $6,613,432

12. “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” 
Distributor: Focus Features
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: July 16
Opening Theater Count: 927
Opening Average: $2,145
Current Gross: $5,249,970

13. “Copshop”
Distributor: Open Road Films
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: September 17
Opening Theater Count: 3,005
Opening Average: $770
Current Gross: $5,213,243

14. “Zola”
Distributor: A24
Budget (if reported): $5 million
Release Date: June 30
Opening Theater Count: 1,468
Opening Average: $1,125
Current Gross: $4,844,399

15. “Separation”
Distributor: Open Road Films
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: April 30
Opening Theater Count: 1,751
Opening Average: $1,028
Current Gross: $4,509,143

"Boogie"

“Boogie”

Focus Features

16. “Boogie”
Distributor: Focus Features
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: March 5
Opening Theater Count: 1,252
Opening Average: $958
Current Gross: $4,178,620

17. “Pig”
Distributor: Neon
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: July 16
Opening Theater Count: 552
Opening Average: $1,758
Current Gross: $3,186,668

18. “Minari”
Distributor: A24
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: February 12
Opening Theater Count: 251
Opening Average: $770
Current Gross: $3,110,580

19. “Dream Horse”
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: May 21
Opening Theater Count: 1,254
Opening Average: $633
Current Gross: $2,913,328

20. “The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2”
Distributor: HEFG Releasing
Budget (if reported): NA
Release Date: June 11
Opening Theater Count: 420
Opening Average: $2,408
Current Gross: $2,893,660

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