The specialty box office is following two paths. High-profile narrative festival premieres such as “The Dead Don’t Die” (Focus), “Late Night” (Amazon) and “Booksmart” (United Artists) play wide quickly. And documentaries like “Pavarotti” (CBS), “Echo in the Canyon” (Greenwich), and “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon) catch a wave and ride success as they widen.
The old-fashioned arthouse platform release is a challenge but it can work: A24’s acclaimed Sundance debut “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is showing rare strength among more limited specialized narrative titles. It remains a sign that careful handling of a critically praised film can still find an audience.
How to assess “Late Night” and “Booksmart”? Amazon’s second weekend expansion — similar to the “Booksmart” opening– yielded a disappointing result a little below the latter title. But it’s too early to predict how audiences are reacting as it propels ahead.
No question, the specialized film nabbing the most attention this week (Metascore: 86) was Martin Scorsese’s “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story,” which debuted on Netflix on June 12 along with limited (and unreported) theatrical play.
The Dead Don’t Die (Focus) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Cannes 2019
$2,350,000 in 613 theaters; PTA: $3,827
Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes opening night zombie comedy starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver is another film which skipped platforming and went straight to national play. The results are decent, especially compared to “Late Night” and “Booksmart.” The gross, in a little more than a quarter of those playing “Late Night” this week, is a little less than half of that film, with strong results head to head at key theaters like the Arclight Hollywood (where it was #1 for Friday and Saturday). Jarmusch has rarely been a wide-release success; only Bill Murray-starrer “Broken Flowers” (in adjusted grosses) boasted higher weekend grosses. “The Dead Don’t Die,” however, met a mixed Cannes response. But the comedy –and its top-flight-stars — pulled audiences anyway.
What comes next: Word of mouth will determine how much life this will have as it holds the same number of theaters next week.
Being Frank (The Film Arcade) – Metacritic: 34; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2018
$15,409 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,136
This film about a man who simultaneously raised two separate families drew top support from Landmark Theatres in New York and Los Angeles more than a year after its South by Southwest debut. The results with execrable reviews show the benefit of its venues. Whether that translates into future positive results remains to be seen.
What comes next: The initial small expansion starts this Friday.
American Woman (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Toronto 2018
$102,825 in 117 theaters; PTA: $878
Sienna Miller stars as a working class Pennsylvania woman forced to raise a grandson when her teenage daughter disappears. After a Toronto premiere, this opened nationally at top theaters to virtually no response. Credible films with good but not great reviews and lacking top tier marquee draws have a tough path to find audience interest.
What comes next: This has been scheduled for wider release, but it will be tough to get it.
5B (Verizon/RYOT)- Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Doc Stories 2018, Cannes 2019
$40,000 in 127 theaters; PTA: $318
This documentary, about a San Francisco hospital and its reaction to the early years of AIDS, was co-directed by Paul Haggis, his first non-fiction film. Backed by Verizon, among others, the film scored a national release after a special showing in Cannes and some decent reviews but minimal audience interest.
What comes next: This should find more reaction on non-theatrical platforms.
Hampstead (IFC) – Metacritic: 52; also available on Video on Demand
$24,144 in 12 theaters; PTA: $2,012
Initially released in Europe some time ago, this romantic comedy features Diane Keaton as a London widow who meets a hermit (Brendan Gleeson) to form an unlikely alliance. Opening in both theaters and home venues should boost interest in the film online. For parallel play, these are adequate numbers, with more theaters likely.
What comes next: Though VOD will be its major play, the stars and story should give this some more theatrical life.
Our Time (Monument) – Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2018
$3,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,000
Carlos Reygada is one of the top independent Mexican auteurs, who commands regular showings at top festivals. Earlier acclaimed films like “Japon” and “Battle in Heaven” did not deliver much theatrical response. His latest, a three-hour drama about a poet and his wife and their life on a farm, was a New York Times critics’ pick. (Not all reviews have been as favorable.) This opened at Landmark’s Quad in New York to three shows a day and modest response.
What comes next: This will move onto the Royal in Los Angeles and other prime cities on June 28.
Paris Is Burning (Janus) (reissue)
$11,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,000
This marks a strong revival in New York for the documentary that in 1991 introduced voguing to a wider audience, and, with an adjusted gross of $8 million, was a breakout hit for both Miramax and non-fiction film.
What comes next: This will hit top theaters in many markets upcoming, including Los Angeles and the Bay area on July 5.
Late Night (Amazon)
$5,135,000 in 2,220 theaters (+2,216); PTA: $2,314; Cumulative: $5,449,000
This huge Sundance buy (around $13 million) in its second weekend went nearly as wide as “Booksmart” in its first week. The PTA, in a week after a strong initial four-theater New York/Los Angeles platform (which many said would have been better for “Booksmart”), was a little less but comparable. However, the Saturday number went up whereas the earlier film lagged slightly on its second full day. How word of mouth propels this ahead — with next weekend critical — will determine whether this will end up ahead of the $21-23 million likely final theatrical result for “Booksmart.” This ended up ranked ninth overall on a very weak June weekend.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24)
$361,120 in 36 theaters (+29); PTA: $10,031; Cumulative: $713,286
Excellent second weekend expansion for this story of urban gentrification and its human impact. This had a PTA above A24’s “Gloria Bell” in the same number of theaters early in its run. Expect a considerably wider release and a rare positive result for a non-documentary specialized arthouse release.
$200,000 in 48 theaters (+29); PTA: $4,168; Cumulative: $429,000
New theaters added for Ron Howard’s documentary about the opera legend kept the response decent. This looks to hold interest for fans of the performer, with signs that further expansion could push this much higher.
Framing John DeLorean (IFC); also available on Video on Demand
$23,527 in 10 theaters (+9); PTA: $2,353; Cumulative: $32,633
This hybrid documentary/dramatic portrayal of the life of the innovative car designer added theaters while playing on VOD to a passable day-and-date performance.
Papi Chulo (Blue Fox)
$7,215 in 12 theaters (+10); PTA: $601; Cumulative: $17,763
This Toronto premiered dramedy about an LA gay man still pining for his ex who befriends a man he hired for housework expanded its second weekend to minor response.
Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)
Booksmart (United Artists) Week 4
$859,214 in 577 theaters (-557); Cumulative: $19,747,000
Though it lost about half its theaters, this well-reviewed smart teen comedy increased its per theater average this weekend. That gives it hope for sustaining a run at fewer but sufficient theaters to keep pushing its gross higher. It’s a tough market, but this should gross about the same if not more than it would have with an initial platform release.
Echo in the Canyon (Greenwich) Week 4
$197,200 in 68 theaters (+25); Cumulative: $795,488
As it expands, this documentary on the LA music scene and some of its key players nearly 50 years ago continues to find interest. This looks to have potential for considerably more interest.
The Biggest Little Farm (Neon) Week 6
$194,000 in 176 theaters (-109); Cumulative: $2,934,000
Who knew biodiverse agriculture would be so popular? This sleeper documentary could end up at $3.5 million or higher.
All Is True (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$87,184 in 190 theaters (-138); Cumulative: $968,513
Kenneth Branagh actually plays Shakespeare in his latest film, which will just pass the $1 mark. That’s low for one of his films, particularly with a top-name cast.
The Souvenir (A24) Week 5
$60,000 in 83 theaters (-62); Cumulative: $845,580
A24 has pushed Joanna Hogg’s first film to get a significant domestic release to most big cities. But this acclaimed story of a young film student and her uneasy relationship with a slightly older man hasn’t pulled audiences.
The Tomorrow Man (Bleecker Street) – $30,353 in 78 theaters; Cumulative: $335,210
Non-Fiction (IFC) – $28,478 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $618,904
The White Crow (Sony Pictures Classics) – $26,960 in 34 theaters; Cumulative: $1,718,000
The Spy Behind the Mask (PBS) – $26,015 in 25 theaters; Cumulative: $127,056
Halston (1091) – $18,428 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $97,331
Amazing Grace (Neon) – $13,316 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $4,351,000
Apollo 11 (Neon) – $11,295 in 5 theaters; Cumumalative: $8,811,000
Red Joan (IFC) – $10,581 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $1,567,000