‘Wild Rose’ Outpaced by Documentaries at Specialty Box Office

Well-known figures, from Toni Morrison and David Hockney to Pavarotti, are pulling in audiences while new dramas can be a tough sell.
'Wild Rose' Outpaced by Documentaries at Specialty Box Office
"Wild Rose"
1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right

Documentaries continue to dominate the specialized world. Among new openers, three of the four are non-fiction titles. They include “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” (Magnolia) and a reissue of David Hockney biodoc “A Bigger Splash” (Metrograph).

Wild Rose,” the top narrative release of the week from Neon, had a middling start despite strong support and good reviews for breakout Jessie Buckley. The familiar story of an aspiring singer might have limited its appeal.

Among holdovers, documentaries are holding better than the two prime Sundance titles that opened soft in recent weeks. Not showing signs of sustained growth are “Late Night” (Amazon), which dropped more than half on its second wide weekend, while “Booksmart” (United Artists) is nearing $21 million, a total the Amazon film is unlikely to reach.


Wild Rose (Neon) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Toronto 2018, South by Southwest 2019

$56,183 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,046

Rising actress Buckley, on view in HBO’s “Chernobyl,” stars as a Scottish singer who dreams of going to Nashville. Neon acquired this for a reported $4 million (Neon says lower) after its strong Toronto debut (along with show business title “Vox Lux”). “Wild Rose” scored positive reviews and top theater placement, but met a mediocre response for a movie of this pedigree. Country music stories can be tricky for coastal openings. This might build a stronger reaction as it expands.

What comes next: That expansion starts this week.

"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am"
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”Greenfield Sanders Studio

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$44,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $11,000

Magnolia had spectacular success two years ago with Oscar-nominated James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” Their nonfiction track record made it easier for them to score four high grade New York/Los Angeles theaters for this Sundance-premiere. The results, though not at the level of “Negro,” are quite good for a film about a significant high profile literary figure.

What comes next: A multi-city expansion starts this Friday, with significantly more over the 4th holiday.

The Quiet One (IFC) – Metacritic: 56; Festivals include: Toronto, Hamptons 2019; also available on Video on Demand

$10,561 in 6 theaters; PTA: $1,760

This music documentary profile of Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman played in select theaters concurrent with its VOD debut to expected results.

What comes next: The attention from getting theater openings should enhance its home venue interest.

A Bigger Splash (Metrograph) (reissue)

$18,000 in 1 theaters; PTA: $18,000

This 1973 documentary about painter David Hockney was an early release from New Line Cinema when that company was on the fringes of the specialized world. This reissue found a strong initial result at New York’s Metrograph, the second release of that theater’s nascent distribution company.

What comes next: These grosses should get the film attention nationwide from top specialized theaters.

"The Dead Don't Die"
“The Dead Don’t Die”courtesy of Cannes

Week Two

The Dead Don’t Die (Focus)

$1,130,000 in 690 theaters (+77); PTA: $1,631; Cumulative: $4,758,000

With a 55% drop, Jim Jarmusch’s horror comedy could still be his second biggest grosser. But it also is playing a more theaters than any of his earlier more limited releases.


American Woman (Roadside Attractions)

$19,965 in 38 theaters (-79); PTA: $525; Cumulative: $203,372

A loss of most of its initial dates made the second-week drop even worse for Jake Scott’s drama about a grandmother raising her missing daughter’s son.

Being Frank (The Film Arcade)

$13,208 in 11 theaters (+8); PTA: $1,201; Cumulative: $31,859

This comedy about a man secretly raising two families drew a weak second weekend with a handful of new theaters.

Late Night
“Late Night”Amazon

Ongoing/expanding (Gross over $50,000)

Late Night (Amazon) Week 3

$2,584,000 in 2,172 theaters (-48); Cumulative: $10,673,000

A 51% drop for its second wide weekend is similar to the drop for “Booksmart,” which suggests that the initial platform start for this Emma Thompson/Mindy Kaling comedy will bring the total short of the likely $21-22 million for “Booksmart.” In both cases, their numbers will likely be higher than a slower roll out total. This one-two punch of disappointing results (which will be mitigated by greater interest on other venues from a higher wide-release profile) shows the challenges in the current market.

Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24) Week 3

$413,589 in 72 theaters (+36); Cumulative: $1,343,000

Joe Talbot’s acclaimed Sundance film, which is among the top reviewed films of the year, doubled its prints in what is a rare slow roll out. The drama is well ahead of A24’s praised “First Reformed” last year in their respective third weekends: both got a slow boost from word of mouth. A24 is giving the film careful handling to maximize its potential.

Pavarotti (CBS) Week 3

$409,000 in 135 theaters (+87); Cumulative: $992,089

Ron Howard’s documentary on the opera superstar continues its decent rollout. A big increase in theaters brought it to just shy of $1 million so far. More impressively, like “Last Black Man” the film shows that there is still potential for certain niche films to maximize their returns (including reducing marketing costs) by keep their initial weeks limited.

Booksmart (United Artists) Week 5

$(est.) 408,000 in 227 theaters (-350); Cumulative: (est.) $20,714,000

United Artists oddly didn’t provide an estimate, but their high-profile release is still playing at a sufficient number of theaters entering its second month to have passed the $20 million mark. It should hold on long enough to add $1 million or more to its total. The per theater averaged at this reduced number of screens actually went up.

Echoes in the Canyon (Greenwich) Week 5

$252,072 in 81 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $1,169,000

This boomer-friendly recreation of the Laurel Canyon music scene decades ago continues its impressive run. With more cities added, the theater average actually went up a tick from last week.

The Biggest Little Farm (Neon) Week 7

$158,800 in 134 theaters (-42); Cumulative: $3,274,000

Down from its widest point, this documentary about a biodiverse farm has impressively passed the $3 million mark and might approach $4 million.

The Spy Behind Home Plate (Ciesla) Week 5

$50,150 in 31 theaters (+5); Cumulative: $191,456

Modest but continued interest continues for this documentary about Moe Berg, the catcher turned spy (the subject also of last year’s narrative feature “The Catcher Was a Spy”).

Also noted:

All Is True (Sony Pictures Classics) – $47,730 in 77 theaters; Cumulative: $1,077,000

The Souvenir (A24) – $37,000 in 50 theaters; Cumulative: $912,260

Framing John Delorean (IFC) – $27,172 in 26 theaters; Cumulative: $78,788

Non-Fiction (IFC) – $25,071 in 33 theaters; Cumulative: $653,921

The White Crow (Sony Pictures Classics) – $12,039 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $1,741,000

Papi Chulo (Blue Fox) – $11,709 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $35,731

Amazing Grace (Neon) – $11,100 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $4,377,000

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