‘Arctic’ Braves Super Bowl Freeze as ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ Scores in First Full Weekend

Super Bowl weekend always depresses the box office, but the specialty market needs substantial improvement.

The specialty film market could use a shot in the arm from some of the hot titles from the Sundance Film Festival. As usual, Oscar contenders are driving current releases. Specialty and studio totals from a range of theaters beyond the arthouse core are only a little above $10 million this weekend. That is basement low even for the always-depressed Super Bowl weekend.

Cannes title “Arctic” (Bleecker Street) braved Super Bowl weekend to have a respectable opening in two cities, and will certainly get maximum interest from top theaters in upcoming weeks as a fresh title with potential. But it needs company, and soon.


Arctic (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Cannes 2018

$56,463 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,113

Mads Mikkelsen as a hardy plane crash survivor near the North Pole puts himself at risk to save another crash victim in this Bleecker Street release, which opened at four prime New York/Los Angeles locations this weekend. It is one of the few potential higher-end specialized releases so far this year. Even with upbeat reviews, most films are facing a Super Bowl Sunday response far below normal, reducing its total. This could have more than just typical specialized play ahead.

What comes next: Expands in its initial cities and opens in several others this Friday.

“The Wild Pear Tree”

The Wild Pear Tree (Cinema Guild) – Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018

$5,192 in 1 theater; PTA: $5,192; Cumulative: $6,374

Turkish master director Nuri Bilge Ceylan typically gets a domestic release. This three-hour-plus drama, which was in competition in Cannes, opened at New York’s Film Forum to modest results.

What comes next: This opens in Los Angeles this Friday, with most major cities to have limited showings over the next few months.

Piercing (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Sundance, AFI 2018; also streaming

$8,500 in 18 theaters; PTA: $472

A year after its Sundance debut, this attempted murder story with a deranged would-be killer debuted via streaming as well as a handful of theaters nationwide. It got some reviews, but little business.

What comes next:  Home viewing nearly entirely.

Week Two

The Invisibles (Greenwich)

$35,915 in 14 theaters (+10); PTA: $2,565; Cumulative: $71,556

This story of a group of young Jewish friends surviving in World War II Berlin expanded to top cities this weekend with some degree of interest. Expect this to expand further ahead.

“Never Look Away”

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics)

$19,013 in 1 theater (no change); PTA: $19,013; Cumulative: $58,146

The second weekend at New York’s Paris Theater of the German post-war Oscar Foreign Language contender appears to be continuing its initial positive response. Los Angeles comes on board next this Friday.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 12

$4,329,000 in 2,648 theaters (+218); Cumulative: $55,820,000

Down only 21 percent, staying in sixth place overall, Universal’s successful theatrical positioning of Peter Farrelly’s film should boost it to win some top Oscars.

"They Shall Not Grow Old" Peter Jackson WWI Documentary
They Shall Not Grow OldWarner Brothers

They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.) Week 4

$2,405,000 in 735 theaters (+735); Cumulative: $10,745,000

Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary shall not be denied, as it returns with its first full-week showings after three earlier single day presentations. Even on only 735 screens it managed to dent the Top Ten.

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 11

$1,500,000 in 1,554 theaters (+14); Cumulative: $28,598,000

Now showing at its widest point, Yorgos Lanthimos’ different kind of regal history is adding to its gross. Though helped by its lead-tying nomination total, its gross is a third and its PTA about half of the similarly positioned “The Shape of Water” this weekend last year.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 19

$1,387,000 in 483 theaters (+382); Cumulative: $14,987,000

A return to IMAX screens has pushed this National Geographic documentary to the top gross among the Oscar Documentary Feature contenders.

“On the Basis of Sex”

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 6

$1,020,000 in 917 theaters (-355); Cumulative: $22,836,000

With no awards presence, this late-year Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic has outgrossed several of the more highly-touted Oscar contenders.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (FUNimation) Week 3

$(est.) 900,000 in 633 theaters (-75); Cumulative: $(est.) 30,000,000

The initially limited special event showings for this Japanese animation series entry continues as a regular engagement, now at an unexpected and surprising $30 million mark.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$873,186 in 754 theaters (+29); Cumulative: $3,591,000

This year-end Laurel and Hardy biopic is getting an elevated national presence. With that comes placement higher among gross totals, with a PTA a little over $1,000 similar to those of multiple longer playing Oscar contending films that have had wider exposure.

Cold War (Amazon) Week 7

$564,336 in 217 theaters (+106); Cumulative: $2,183,000

The impressive performance for this Polish black-and-white romantic drama continues as it doubles its theaters. It has two advantages over “Roma” — access to more prime theaters and no alternative home viewings. No matter its ultimate awards outcome it could reach an impressive $4 million or more.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 8

$462,288 in 454 theaters (-152); Cumulative: $13,235,000

Barry Jenkins’ film continues even with a lesser Oscar presence than some other films. It has reached more than a typical specialized audience, but looks like it will come in about half of the director’s Oscar winning “Moonlight.”

Destroyer (Annapurna) Week 6

$234,391 in 235 theaters (+158); Cumulative: $1,212,000

The lack of major awards attention for Nicole Kidman’s bravura performance in this crime drama and the presence of so many other competing films seems to have kept this film from gaining the traction it deserves.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight) Week 16; also streaming

$(est.) 190,000 in 201 theaters (-34); Cumulative: $(est.) 8,350,000

Melissa McCarthy’s Oscar nod is keeping her film in theaters long after its prime dates.

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 25; also streaming

$162,997 in 202 theaters (+97); Cumulative: $8,938,000

Nearing its half-year mark in theaters, and just now entering home availability, Glenn Close’s Oscar chances have been greatly enhanced by its successful ongoing presence even if her film’s gross is below most of her competitors.

Shoplifters, KORE-EDA Hirokazu. Cannes

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 11

$(est.) 160,000 in 110 theaters (-34); Cumulative: $(est.) 2,780,000

Kore-Eda’s most recent film, continuing a string of consecutive domestic releases, has easily become his most successful with a total eventually reaching $4 million – high end for subtitled films – remaining possible.

Roma (Netflix) Week 11; also streaming

$(est.) 150,000 in 105 theaters (+25); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,265,000

Netflix’s ads this week emphasize its long and significant theatrical presence parallel to its streaming. The number of runs increased this weekend despite the continued shunning by the vast majority of theaters.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$132,371 in 47 theaters (+27); Cumulative: $538,475

The Lebanese Oscar Foreign Language contender as it slowly expands is doing above average business for subtitled films, at this point in the range of SPC’s recent winners “Son of Saul” and “A Fantastic Woman.” It is early in its run, and it remains if it can reach the elevated pace of its three earlier opening rivals.

Mary Queen of Scots (Focus) Week  9

$(est.) 100,000 in 127 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $(est.) 16,568,000

This thrived during the holidays, but with no awards presence is now wrapping up its run.

Also noted:

Ben Is Back (Roadside Attractions) – $22,800 in 44 theaters; Cumulative: $3,669,000

Who Will Tell Our History? (Abramorama) – $18,150 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $70,058

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