Arthouse Audit: ‘Don’t Think Twice’ Is More Than Alright

The summer arthouse surge continues with Mike Birbiglia's improv troupe comedy, which boasted the year's top per-screen average, thanks to multiple public appearances.
Don't Think Twice
"Don't Think Twice"
The Film Arcade

Mike Birbiglia’s “Don’t Think Twice” (The Film Arcade) is the latest mid-summer hit, joining the recent turnaround in art house fortunes. Following his template for “Sleepwalk With Me,” Birbiglia & Co. boosted box office via frequent appearances at their New York cinema. The already strong film surged to a huge initial $90,000 number with many sold out shows on multiple screens.

Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society” (Lionsgate) continued to improve on the director’s recent performance, and could end up besting two other recent strong openers. “Captain Fantastic” (Bleecker Street) and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (The Orchard) continue to have strong expansions; both could end up over $10 million as well.

Asian wide-audience commercial releases are performing well in domestic play, with entries from South Korea, India, the Philippines along with China continuing to deliver strong niche results.


“Don’t Think Twice” (Film Arcade) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Tribeca, San Francisco, Seattle 2016

$90,126 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $90,126

James Brown may retain the title as the hardest-working man in show business, but actor/director Mike Birbiglia gave him a run for his money this weekend, appearing at about 20 shows at Landmark’s New York Sunshine Theater’s three screens. He did the same thing for his “Sleepwalk With Me” (IFC) in 2012, which scored a huge $68,000 initial gross at its first theater on its way to a $2.3 million national total. Set among a troupe of improvisational actors, it was helped by great initial reviews, better than those for “Sleepwalk” so far.

The extensive Q & A’s and multiple screens resulted in a huge per theater (as well as per screen) average —at a single theater —yielded the best PTA for 2016. That massive number suggests specialized and possible crossover success ahead. IFC got “Sleepwalk” to 135 theaters but reduced its potential by going quickly to VOD. The Film Arcade plans a normal theatrical release this time around, so in addition to the higher initial number, this is likely to top the earlier film’s total.

What comes next: Chicago and Los Angeles open next week, then a quick expansion to other big cities and beyond in August.

Absolutely Fabulous
“Absolutely Fabulous”

“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” (Fox Searchlight) – Metacritic: 58

$1,880,000 in 313 theaters; PTA: $6,006

This film version of the stateside cult Brit TV show has already done around $20 million back in Britain (where it’s considered mainstream). The initial results are a bit below Roadside Attractions’ usual performance for this release pattern. Fox Searchlight took it to 313 theaters, which falls between their usual wide or limited release model. For around 360 theaters, “Mud,” “A Most Wanted Man” and “Mr. Holmes” opened between $2.2 to 2.7 million, for a slightly better PTA. Those were all word-of-mouth-driven, longer-running films with less presell. But this could still see some further interest beyond core fans.

What comes next: This will have an immediate expansion, but doesn’t appear set to cross over to a wider audience.

“Kabali” (CineGalaxy)

$2,158,000 in 237 theaters; PTA: $9,142; Cumulative: $4,083,000

This opened midweek with a strong four-day gross that shows once again the strength of different cultures in India abroad as well as at home. The story here involves a rebellion among South Indian workers in slave-like conditions in colonial Malaya. Note that the three days — again, with Thursday the strongest — outgrossed “Absolutely Fabulous” despite playing in fewer theaters.

What comes next: The core audience came early for this, so most of its impressive total likely is already in.

“Train to Busan” (Well Go) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Cannes 2016

$285,900 in 28 theaters; PTA: $10,589

South Korean genre films continue to find domestic crossover response as well as from the usual theaters that play films from the country, with this strongly reviewed vampire film doing strong initial business.

What comes next: Unlike most Korean films, this could find wider interest based on these initial results.

“Summertime” (Strand)  – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Locarno, Toronto 2015

(est.)$15,500 in 5 theaters; PTA: (est).$3,100

Opening in New York and Los Angeles, this lesbian romance from veteran French director Catherine Corsini got decent reviews but only modest results. Its Saturday number had a strong 67% jump from Friday.

What comes next: Big city play likely but limited results ahead.

“Imagine You and Me” (APT)

(est.)$280,000 in 28 theaters; PTA: (est.)$10,000

Excellent response in core theaters targeting Filipino-Americans for this day and date with local release for this love story involving a foreign worker in Italy. One of the growth stories this year among international releases has been the success of films from the Philippines, a nation with an established local industry.

What comes next: Likely mostly limited to the initial theaters.

Also available on Video on Demand:

Don’t Worry Baby” (Orion) – (est.)$4,500 in 6 theaters

“Childhood of a Leader” (IFC/Venice 2015) – (est.)$3,800 in 1 theater

“Fight Valley” (Breaking Glass) – (est.)$3,000 in 11 theaters

International releases:

“Madaari” (Reliance Big/India) -(est.) 90,000 $ in 54 theaters

For a Few Bullets” (China Lion/China) – (est.)$18,000 in 15 theaters

Cafe Society
“Cafe Society”Amazon Studios

Week Two:

“Cafe Society” (Lionsgate)

$875,000 in 50 (+45) theaters; PTA: $17,500; Cumulative: $1,377,000

After last weekend’s strong openings, this remains a rebound for Woody Allen after recent declining numbers. The second stanza performance, backed by aggressive marketing including some cable spots, though didn’t have quite the jump over other post-“Blue Jasmine” releases as initial numbers. They are excellent compared to any 206 specialized release—the biggest, “Eye in the Sky,” did $422,000 its second weekend in 35 theaters for a $12,000 PTA. By comparison, Allen’s best recent film “Midnight in Paris” grossed over $1.9 million its second weekend in slightly more (58) theaters. Though this won’t approach the totals for “Midnight” or “Jasmine” ($56 and 33 million respectively) it should be his best since at least “To Rome With Love” ($16 million) and could challenge “Love & Friendship” (also produced by Amazon) as the summer’s top specialized performer.

“Don’t Blink – Robert Frank” (Grasshopper)

$(est.)8,500 in 2 (+1) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $(est.) 30,500

The second weekend for this doc on acclaimed photographer/director Robert Frank didn’t soar to its initial results, but it is still getting some interest.

“Phantom Kid” (GKids)

$2,727 in 2 (+1) theaters; PTA: $1,364; Cumulative: $8,496

Los Angeles opened, but this is a low-end performer for GKids. The French animated film is not gain any traction unlike many of their previous off-beat releases.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”The Orchard

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (The Orchard) Week 5

$584, in 200 (+45) theaters; Cumulative: $2,322,000

Holding well at ongoing theaters and performing similarly at new ones, this New Zealand outback story continues to show strength as it expands. Ahead it will be competing as it goes wider with both “Cafe Society” and “Captain Fantastic” for many of the same screens in more general audience upscale theaters, and its ultimate gross will depend in large part on whether it can equal their grosses in competing for holdovers. Getting out before them and word of mouth will aid the cause.

"Captain Fantastic"
“Captain Fantastic”Erik Simkins / Bleecker Street

“Captain Fantastic” (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$572,582 in 104 (+68) theaters; Cumulative: $1,108,478

Another back-country story (set in the Pacific Northwest) had a decent expansion. The grosses stand a little below “The Lobster” on its third weekend, and by theater average, ahead of “Wilderpeople” at the same point, and about equaled its gross this weekend with half as many theaters, so it appears this could end up bigger.

“The Innocents” (Music Box) Week 4

$127,000 in 61 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $614,138

Continuing to have results ahead of most art-house subtitled releases, the French/Polish post-World War 2 drama looks like to could top $1 million, unusual these days among similar foreign language releases.

“Love & Friendship” (Roadside Attractions) Week 11

$121,875 in 88 (-52) theaters; Cumulative: $13,691,000

It’s going to be close, but this Amazon production could top “Hello, My Name Is Doris” ($14,442,000) as Roadside’s biggest gross of the year. In any case, it has been the summer’s specialized best, at least so far.

“The Lobster” (A24) Week 11

$103,984 in 67 (-34) theaters; Cumulative: $8,855,000

Still hanging around, this second best (so far this summer) specialized hit won’t quite hit $10 million, but its total will far exceed all expectations.

“Swiss Army Man” (A24) Week 5

$98,334 in 81 (-147) theaters; Cumulative: $4,005,000

This Sundance favorite didn’t live up to expectations after its strong openings and will end up less than half of A24’s recent hit “The Lobster” despite playing at somewhat more theaters.

“Our Kind of Traitor” (Roadside Attractions) Week 4

$96,800 in 88 (-174) theaters; Cumulative: $3,024,000

Not the same kind of summer specialized hit Roadside has seen in recent years, this North African-set thriller John le Carré adaptation looks about over and out in only four weeks.

“The Music of Strangers” (The Orchard) Week 7

$80,168 in 81 (-1) theaters; Cumulative: $908,132

Yo-Yo Ma’s world tour with master musicians should top $1 million before it’s through.

“Maggie’s Plan” (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$55,574 in 62 (-65) theaters; Cumulative: $3,238,000

Greta Gerwig’s latest will end up slightly closer to her “Frances Ha” (which reached just over $4 million) than last summer’s “Mistress America.”

Also noted:

“Our Little Sister” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $44,514 in 20 (+9) theaters; Cumulative: $133,803

“Tickled” (Magnolia) – (est.)$29,000 in 32 (-21) theaters; Cumulative: (est.) 460,000

“Genius” (Roadside Attractions) – $24,500 in 30 (-21) theaters; Cumulative: $1,331,000

“Wiener-Dog” (IFC) – (est.)$24,000 in 32; Cumulative: (est.)$425,000

“Life, Animated” (The Orchard) – $23,112 in 25 (+6) theaters; Cumulative: $129,886

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.