Indies vs. ‘Avengers’: Who Survived the Box Office ‘Endgame’?

Against the "Endgame" tsunami, Aretha Franklin's "Amazing Grace" stayed afloat as the top specialized title. But many smaller boats were swept away.

The “Avengers: Endgame” tidal wave pushed away all boats this weekend. Most specialty companies waived the counterprogramming option, even though specialized audiences make a point of finding alternatives. Most distributors decided not to take that risk.

Sony Pictures Classics bravely opened “The White Crow,” a biopic about young Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, with a decent initial result in New York and Los Angeles. Also showing some interest was the New York exclusive date for music documentary “Carmine Street Guitars” (Abramorama).

Landing and keeping dates in crossover theaters this weekend, with every available screen going to Marvel and Disney, was a challenge. But still building buzz is Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace” (Neon), which doubled the gross of any wider released specialized title this week.


The White Crow (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Telluride 2018

$80,675 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $16,175

Ralph Fiennes directed the true story of a young Rudolf Nureyev plotting to flee his native country early in his astounding ballet career. The biopic opened in five prime New York and Los Angeles theaters to mildly favorable reviews and some definite interest. Though not massive, these are the best opening weekend results for any SPC film since “The Wife” last November.

What comes next: Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington open next, with an ongoing expansion throughout May.

Carmine Street Guitars (Abramorama) – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2018

$7,081 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $7,081; Cumulative: $10,216

This documentary about the sole remaining downtown New York guitar store (in an area once crammed with them) opened at the lower Manhattan’s Film Forum on Wednesday. Its over $10,000 gross for its initial five days reflects local interest, the best reviews of any new release this week, and effective grassroots marketing.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens on May 10, with a slow rollout to appropriate theaters scheduled over upcoming months.

Hesburg (O’Malley Creadon) – Festivals include: AFI Docs 2018

$18,150 in 2 theaters; PTA: $9,075

Father Theodore Hesburg led Notre Dame during a turbulent period, and became a national figure for his support of social justice beyond Catholic academia. This documentary opened at a South Bend AMC multiplex and the Music Box in Chicago. That makes this initial result more notable ahead of its national release.

What comes next: This shows grassroots appeal, which its 30-plus city expansion this Friday (including New York and Los Angeles) will test.

If the Dancer Dances (Monument) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Dances on Camera 2018

$5,000 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $5,000

A company of top New York dancers attempts to revive one of the most challenging works of choreographer Merce Cunningham in this documentary. It opened in a single New York theater, finding some initial interest.

What comes next: Los Angeles begins the national expansion this Friday.

“Red Joan”IFC Films

Week Two

Red Joan (IFC)

$165,204 in 45 theaters (+41); PTA: $3,671; Cumulative: $222,257

Judi Dench has seemed omnipresent in films in recent years as her late career popularity as soared. Surprisingly, this is only her third starring role in over nine years in a limited release, following “Philomena” and “Victoria and Abdul.”

Hail, Satan? (Magnolia)

$(est.) 40,000 in 18 theaters (+15); PTA: $(est.) 2,222; Cumulative: $(est.) 76,000

The most offbeat religious documentary of the year widened to top cities nationally. With continued glowing reviews, it is gaining enough traction to suggest it should be able to reach a wider audience ahead.

Under the Silver Lake (A24); also on Video on Demand

$(est.) 10,000 in 3 theaters (+1); PTA: $(est.) 3,333; Cumulative: $(est.) 56,000

David Robert Mitchell’s Los Angeles thriller noir transitioned to home viewing during the week, with little further theatrical play. That looks to be a logical strategy for this high-profile but unconventional Andrew Garfield vehicle.

Little Woods (Neon)

$34,310 in 29 theaters (-4); PTA: $1,183; Cumulative: $116,476

This North Dakota crime thriller story about two sisters going outside the law to ensure health care for deprived women continues to draw modest interest.

Family (The Film Arcade)

$102,720 in 107 theaters (+104); PTA: $960; Cumulative: $126,522

Kate McKinnon as an unlikely babysitter for her teenage niece managed to find over 100 theaters in a week with only one new film. The comedy got minor results in its national expansion.

Fast Color (Lionsgate)

$(est.) 3,000 in 6 theaters (-19); PTA: $(est.) 500; Cumulative: $(est.) 49,000

Despite a push from Film Twitter, without marketing support and in fewer theaters, this well-reviewed SXSW pickup from Codeblack, released as their ties with Lionsgate are ending, did not draw more than token interest at its remaining theaters.

“Amazing Grace”Neon

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Amazing Grace (Neon) Week 6

$539,900 in 243 theaters (+53); Cumulative: $2,166,000

This documentary of a 1972 Aretha Franklin church gospel recording session expands further. It maintains its position as the top specialized title at the moment, with signs that it should continue to play for some time ahead.

Mustang (Focus) Week 7

$292,000 in 277 theaters (-210); Cumulative: $4,543,000

Prisoners in the Nevada desert taming wild horses might not be standard specialized fare. But this French-produced drama has found a steady, older and wider audience than most recent releases.

Hotel Mumbai (Bleecker Street) Week 6

$164,351 in 170 theaters (-144); Cumulative: $9,286,412

This has become Bleecker Street’s fourth-biggest grosser, and its highest without reaching 1,000 theaters. It also has hit the highest total of any initially platformed film released so far this year.

High Life (A24) Week 4

$147,000 in 146 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $947,032

Claire Denis’ science-fiction tale starring Robert Pattinson will gross far over most of her French-language films. As it has expanded, though, it hasn’t replicated its stronger initial response.

Wild Nights With Emily (Greenwich) Week 3

$95,461 in 65 theaters (+32); Cumulative: $230,926

Emily Dickinson’s private life unconventionally presented with comic elements doubled its national break. The numbers suggest a steady niche audience for the film.

The Chaperone (PBS) Week 5

$73,850 in 50 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $335,294

This story of Louise Brooks’ companion (from the “Downton Abbey” creators) continues with modest results from older fans of period biopics.

Also noted:

Woman at War (Magnolia) – $(est.) 45,000 in 35 theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 714,000

Apollo 11 (Neon) – $41,960 in 62 theaters; Cumulative: $8,561,000

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Kino Lorber) – $35,814 in 12 theaters; Cumulative: $194,194

Her Smell (Gunpowder & Sky) – $34,385 in 40 theaters; Cumulative: $171,725

Gloria Bell (A24) – $33,000 in 39 theaters; Cumulative: $5,542,000

Diane (IFC) – $30,067 in 33 theaters; Cumulative: $312,285; also on Video on Demand

Mine 9 (Levey) – $23,000 in 22 theaters; Cumulative: $174,506

Transit (Music Box) – $20,952 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $763,829

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) – $17,744 in 6 theaters; Cumulative: $1,257,736

Aftermath (Fox Searchlight) – $17,000 in 53 theaters; Cumulative: $1,606,000

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