‘Cold War’ Another Strong Foreign-Language Opener as ‘Roma’ Remains Strong

"Green Book," "Mary Queen of Scots," "Shoplifters," and "The Favourite" are also doing well at the pre-holiday box office.
'Cold War' Strong Foreign-Language Opener as 'Roma' Remains Strong
"Cold War"
Amazon Studios

Cold War,” expected to be a finalist in the Foreign Language Oscar race, joined likely competitors “Roma” and “Shoplifters” as a strong initial opener in two cities, the weekend’s sole new specialty release of note. Three more limited openers have yet to arrive this year, two of them with lead Golden Globe acting nominees. “Destroyer” debuts Tuesday and “Stan and Ollie” will come out Friday. “On the Basis of Sex” also platforms on Tuesday.

Mary, Queen of Scots” and “The Favourite” expanded to just under 800 theaters with respectable results that promise even bigger numbers once Tuesday arrives. Both are positioned to thrive as the adult audience booms. They will face competition in several big cities from an initial widening of “If Beale Street Could Talk” as well as several wide releases aimed at adult audiences, led by “Vice” debuting Tuesday.

Also opening in Los Angeles as a qualifier — but as normal, no grosses reported — was Kenneth Branagh’s “All Is True.”



Cold War (Amazon) – Metacritic: 91; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, New York 2018

$55,727 in 3 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $18,575

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Polish period drama “Ida” had one of the best arthouse subtitled openings in 2014 on its way to a Foreign Language Oscar. Its adjusted total of $20,000 was a little ahead of “Cold War,” which faced a tougher release date and much more competition. It also opened at a similar per-theater level to “Shoplifters” a few weeks ago (which had five theaters), though below the performance of “Roma.” Still, an impressive start. “Ida” (which opened earlier in the year and had no awards boost during its run) ended up with around $4 million, one of the best subtitled releases of recent years.

What comes next: Some additional cities will be added on January 4, with a national arthouse and beyond run expected in later weeks.

(l to r.) Teyonah Parris as Ernestine, KiKi Layne as Tish, and Regina King as Sharon star in Barry Jenkins' IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, an Annapurna Pictures release.
“If Beale Street Could Talk”Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Picture

Week Two

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)

$114,902 in 5 theaters (+1); PTA: $22,980; Cumulative: $428,000

Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed James Baldwin adaptation didn’t soar at the heights of its debut last weekend (with one Brooklyn theater added), but still is showing strength at key locations (it was the top grosser at both The Landmark in Los Angeles and the Angelika in Los Angeles). Annapurna adds key major cities, both specialized and African-American neighborhood locations, with further expansions planned for January parallel to hoped-for awards notice.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics)

$23,513 in 7 theaters (+4); PTA: $3,359; Cumulative: $62,070

Nadine Labaki’s Lebanese film about a young refugee surviving on the streets of Beirut expanded to three outlying Los Angeles theaters and one in San Francisco. Its numbers remain considerably lower than three other recent subtitled openers that could also vie in the Oscar Foreign Language category. The holidays will help, but word of mouth and a nomination are vital for its chances as it expands ahead.

The House That Jack Built (IFC); also streaming

$10,124 in 13 theaters (-19); PTA: $779; Cumulative: $229,114

Lars Von Trier’s divisive serial killer film with Matt Dillon continues at a few theaters after an earlier one-day unrated version showing; streaming platforms bring in the bulk of its viewings.

“Mary Queen of Scots”

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Mary, Queen of Scots (Focus) Week 3

$2,240,000 in 795 theaters (+729); Cumulative: $3,544,000

Star power continues to boost this first of two British royalty films in play. With Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie in roles earlier played by the likes of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Glenda Jackson, Vanessa Redgrave, Cate Blanchett and others, this quick widening is hitting its marks and should add considerably to its take so far. Not as strong an awards contender, the upcoming two weeks are critical. The gross is about 60 percent of what Focus saw for “Darkest Hour” pre-Christmas weekend (which included Christmas Eve, normally a soft day) in a similar expansion.

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 5

$2,060,000 in 790 theaters (+349); Cumulative: $10,087,000

Yorgos Lathimos’ royal court comedy of rivalry and intrigue more than doubled its screens to cross the $10 million mark. This number is about two thirds of what Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water” grossed last year the same weekend, at slightly fewer theaters. “The Favourite” has had an additional week of play, with its best numbers still to come over the holidays; its widest release will come mid-January. Of note: This did about 26 percent better Saturday than “Mary,” though that came in part because it had fewer new dates getting a first-night boost. Still, it suggests staying power ahead.

Green Book (Universal) Week 6

$1,410,000 in 732 theaters (-483); Cumulative: $27,530,000

The season’s riskiest awards-contender release (other than Netflix’s “Roma”) looks to have overcome its biggest hurdle by maintaining a presence through Christmas in appropriate theaters. Peter Farrelly’s crowdpleaser shed nearly 500 theaters, but is holding shows at most of its best-grossing ones (helped by the failure of Universal’s wide release “Mortal Engines” and under 2,000 locations opening the equally weak “Welcome to Marwen”). Even better, of all films playing Saturday, including several expected to get big kids/family boosts, this had the best increase over Friday of any film in the overall top 30.

“Ben Is Back”

Ben Is Back (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$392,075 in 162 theaters (+133); Cumulative: $711,879

Back by some significant marketing including cable ads, this well-reviewed drama of a family dealing with substance abuse did well enough. If there is good word of mouth (it increased more than a third Saturday), it could benefit from the elevated holiday boost ahead.

Roma (Netflix) Week 5; also streaming

$(est.) 300,000 in (est.) 145 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $(est.) 1,850,000

Once again, these are very rough estimates based on spot checking a handful of theaters where figures can be determined. What is known is that despite its second week of Netflix streaming, Alfonso Cuaron’s film held most of its current theaters. That’s impressive, particularly as competition for screen space is nearing its peak. Grosses at prime New York and Los Angeles theaters remain among the best, with the numbers reduced by sellouts in somewhat limited capacities. A select number of locked-in 70mm dates starting this week were announced to add to the theatrical spotlight.

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 4

$(est.) 160,000 in 46 theaters (+2); Cumulative: $(est.) 791,000

With nearly $800,000 in so far, making it one of the top specialized subtitled releases, and decent or better grosses in most locations, this Japanese heart-tugger should do substantially more business ahead between the holidays and its expected Oscar run.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 13

$85,093 in 73 theaters (-27); Cumulative: $10,978,000

National Geographic’s very successful documentary about a perilous Yosemite rock climb continues its presence after three months in play. And it isn’t going away anytime soon – IMAX just announced a one-week run for this on January 11.

“At Eternity’s Gate”CBS Films

At Eternity’s Gate (CBS) Week 6

$88,000 in 83 theaters (-95); Cumulative: $1,671,000

Julian Schnabel’s film about another painter (Van Gogh), with Willem Dafoe’s acclaimed performance, wraps up its pre-holiday run in remaining theaters with its awards chances intact. It could get a small boost over the holidays, with further interest pending based on how much attention Dafoe receives.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$(est.) 60,000 in 72 theaters (-94); Cumulative: $(est.) 7,832,000

Among the two early fall specialized releases with serious Best Actress contenders, this one with Melissa McCarthy has done nearly as well as Glenn Close’s entry “The Wife.”

Also noted:

Vox Lux (Neon) – $48,484 in 75 theaters; Cumulative: $655,602

Anna and the Apocalypse (Orion) – $ in 61 theaters; Cumulative: $

Boy Erased (Focus) – $21,000 in 47 theaters; Cumulative: $6,727,000


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