‘Fighting With My Family’ Breaks Out of Sundance at Specialty Box Office

Foreign-language films "Birds of Passage" and "Everybody Knows" score, even without the Oscar lift given to "Roma," "Cold War" and "Shoplifters."
Sundance Entry Fighting With My Family Is Specialty Box Office Hit
"Fighting With My Family"

As Oscar contenders transition to home viewing platforms, their box-office presence is on the wane. Next up on the specialized calendar: Sundance releases. Producer Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson’s wrestling biofilm “Fighting With My Family” (MGM) has scored the best limited opening gross so far this year.

Lower but also impressive is the Colombian Oscar submission “Birds of Passage” (The Orchard), which scored decent initial two city numbers. Continuing with Focus’ “Everybody Knows,” which expanded decently in its second week, foreign-language films are on the rebound.


Fighting With My Family (MGM) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$131,625 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $32,906

The first hit out of Sundance delivered the best limited opening grosses since “If Beale Street Could Talk” two months ago. This retelling of the rise of WWE female superstar Paige features producer Johnson as himself. Despite its mid-American appeal, it opened as a platform run at four New York/Los Angeles theaters. Positive reviews helped, but even in these more sophisticated locations this found an initial strong response.

What comes next: This goes nationally as a wide release this weekend where it appears it will find considerable interest.

“Birds of Passage”

Birds of Passage (The Orchard) – Metacritic: 90; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto 2018, Sundance 2019

$24,249 in 2 theaters; PTA: $12,125; Cumulative: $33,807

Though not opening at the same level as Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s previous surprise success “Embrace of the Serpent” (he shares directing credit on “Birds of Passage” with his ex-wife Cristina Gallego), this multi-decade story of how drugs upended a remote indigenous community is the latest impressive subtitled opener. Its initial exclusive New York and Los Angeles dates showed strong initial interest along with high-end reviews in the same range as several of its fellow short-listed Foreign Language Oscar contenders.

What comes next: The rebound in interest in subtitled films is underscored by plans to expand the film to up to 250 theaters.

“Hotel by the River”

Hotel By the River (Cinema Guild) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Locarno, Toronto 2018

$5,870 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $5,870

Acclaimed South Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s most recent release is another black and white subtitled art house release on the heels of “Roma” and “Cold War.” With positive initial reviews in New York, though not overall quite at the level of Hong’s previous films, this story of a poet summoning his two adult sons as he feels he might be dying had a mild initial response.

What comes next:  This likely will see mainly niche limited showings in high-end locations ahead.

Ruben Brandt, Collector (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Locarno 2018

$6,394 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,197; Cumulative: $7,737

This stylized Hungarian animated film focusing on a series of unusual art museum thefts had a late year qualifying Los Angeles run. Though it didn’t land a nomination, it is now starting regular limited runs, with initial New York and returning Los Angeles dates not responding strongly initially to favorable reviews.

What comes next:  As typical with SPC releases, expect this to reach top specialized theaters across the country.

Catvideofest 2019 (Oscilloscope)

$11,100 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,100

The gross for this compilation of films about cats comes from only two shows at one Chicago location. This is an event presentation partnering with and benefiting cat shelters, with the initial reaction showing significant niche interest.

What comes next: New York and Los Angeles have similar limited showings on Monday, with over 150 theaters planning to add on similarly in the near future.

War and Peace (Janus) (reissue)

$22,000 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $22,000

One of the best showings for a restored film in recent years in limited release, this seven hour long Soviet epic (an Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film for 1968 for its shortened, English-dubbed version) clicked at its exclusive Manhattan run.

What comes next: Other major cities will see limited showings for this massive film.

Week Two

2019 Oscar Nominated Short Film (Shorts TV/Magnolia)

$(est.) 450,000 in 270 theaters (no change); PTA: $(est.) 1,666; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,795,000

This year’s compilation of the three Oscar categories (now all restored to the broadcast) continues to perform a little above all past editions.

Everybody Knows
“Everybody Knows”© Teresa Isasi

Everybody Knows (Focus)

$191,000 in 23 theaters (+19); PTA: $8,302; Cumulative: $284,000

The latest non-English specialized release to score interest, Asghar Farhadi’s tense Spanish-language family mystery drama showed significant interest outside any award-parallel boost. Husband-and-wife stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are the key reason.

Lords of Chaos (Gunpowder & Sky)

$53,654 in 25 theaters (+17); PTA: $2,146; Cumulative: $101,391

In advance of its Video on Demand availability this week, this recreation of the 1990s Norwegian black metal music world added new cities with continued modest interest.

To Dust (Good Deed)

$29,140 in 15 theaters (+14); PTA: $1,940; Cumulative: $40,134

An Hasidic cantor’s unusual approach to mourning after his wife’s death is the center of this Matthew Broderick vehicle, which expanded beyond its initial exclusive date with signs of wider interest.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 14

$2,750,000 in 1,618 theaters (-541); Cumulative: $65,255,000

Another weekend with a strong hold (only down 20 percent) for Peter Farrelly’s surging awards contender.

They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.) Week 6

$985,000 in 626 theaters (-201); Cumulative: $15,256,000

The continued wide release for Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary after its strong special event dates continues. It’s the latest non-fiction film to pass the $15 million mark.

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 13

$570,000 in 324 theaters (-281); Cumulative: $31,113,000

Its ten Oscar nominations have propelled Yorgos Lanthimos’ period comedy/drama into a now three-month run and one of the strongest totals among the late year specialized releases.

Cold War (Amazon) Week 9

$404,350 in 247 theaters (-23); Cumulative: $3,551,000

This much talked about multi-category Oscar contender is catching up to the longer-running Netflix streaming title “Roma” (its box office is estimated). With access to more theaters, this Polish contender continues to perform far ahead of almost all the foreign-language art house titles in recent years.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$260,170 in 210 theaters (-142); Cumulative: $4,749,000

The fairly wide showing of this Laurel and Hardy late career biofilm is in its later stages is heading to a $5 =-million response without stateside awards attention.


Arctic (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$256,510 in 63 theaters (+48); Cumulative: $445,094

More action-oriented than a typical specialized release, Mads Mikkelsen frozen survival epic  is gaining some traction as it expands.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 8

$241,000 in 186 theaters (-230); Cumulative: $23,243,000

This film of the early days of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s career while the Supreme Court Justice remains major news has stuck around longer than many of the late-year releases (including awards contenders) as it adds to its impressive total.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$193,301 in 136 theaters (+73); Cumulative: $993,350

The Lebanese Foreign Language contender continues to expand, more than doubling its theaters. Though respectable among subtitled releases, it looks like it will not reach the $3 million-plus totals of three of its rivals.

"If Beale Street Could Talk"
“If Beale Street Could Talk”Screenshot

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 10

$210,006 in 165 theaters (-101); Cumulative: $14,124,000

Regina King’s frontrunning shot at a Best Supporting Actress is the main reason for the continued presence of Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 21; also on Video on Demand

$180,046 in 108 theaters (-45); Cumulative: $16,239,000

Entering its sixth month of release, National Geographic’s Oscar Documentary contender continues to add to its impressive totals.

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$135,654 in 31 theaters (+28); Cumulative: $259,955

The first expansion of the German Foreign Language nominees continues to get a respectable response, more impressive with its three hour length.

Roma (Netflix) Week 13; also streaming

$(est.) 100,000 in 85 theaters (-40); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,650,000

Nearing the end of three months in theaters, our estimate of its non-Netflix gross shows it should sell ultimately a half million tickets or more before it completes its play. That’s likely a tiny fraction of its total viewers in the many millions on the streaming site, but all of this remains (educated) speculation.

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 27; also on Video on Demand

$69,657 in 67 theaters (-22); Cumulative: $9,211,000

With a possible win for Best Actress, this Glenn Close drama might still reach $10 million even with home viewing availability.

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 13; also on Video on Demand

$(est.) 63,000 in 55 theaters (-27); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,073,000

Late in its run, this acclaimed audience-pleasing Japanese Foreign Language nominee has passed the rarely achieved $3-million mark for subtitled films.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchight); also on Video on Demand Week 18

$(est.) 62,000 in 55 theaters (-29); Cumulative: $(est.) 8,649,000

Continued late in run interest for this dual acting Oscar nominee.

Also noted:

The Invisibles (Greenwich) – $35,311 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $171,772

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