July 9, 2017

‘A Ghost Story’ and ‘The Big Sick’ Sustain Indie Box Office Surge

A Ghost Story” (A24) joined the recent surge of strong limited openers. Boasting top reviews, David Lowery’s offbeat Sundance hit nabbed a wider than usual arthouse audience. A24 is terrific with the right project at casting a wider specialized market net, so this should join several recent titles led by “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios/Lionsgate) and “The Beguiled” (Focus Features) that have found wider interest as they expand.

This weekend, as breakout “The Big Sick” reaches a wider audience, it’s on its way to becoming the biggest specialized release of 2017 so far — and Amazon’s biggest grosser to date. It looks perfectly positioned for its nationwide break this Friday.

Syria documentary, likely Oscar-contender “City of Ghosts” (IFC) opened in New York only, landing high-end reviews for a reality-based theatrical release.


A Ghost Story (A24) – Metacritic: 87; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle, BAM 2017

$108,067 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $27,017

The summer parade of specialized limited opening successes continues with Sundance entry “A Ghost Story.” Another in a series of films to open with top theater initial averages of over $25,000 in New York and Los Angeles (a rarity for most of this year), it is A24’s biggest platform opener of 2017 (their best since “20th Century Women” at Christmas).

Like indie breakout Colin Trevorrow, who followed a studio franchise smash with indie “The Book of Henry,” David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Body Saints”) followed Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” with low-budget effort “A Ghost Story.” The supernatural tale of a dead husband returning in a sheet to observe his mourning wife rejoins “Saints” stars Casey Affleck (in his first film since his Oscar win) and Rooney Mara. This time, Lowery kept his feet as an emerging director working within his earlier milieu.

What comes next: Similar to other appealing recent successes, this will have a careful but aggressive expansion before reaching a nationwide footprint in a few weeks.

“City of Ghosts”

Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios / A&E IndieFilms / IFC Films.

City of Ghosts (IFC)  – Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Sundance, San Francisco, Tribeca, Seattle 2017

$16,240 in 2 theaters; PTA: $ 8,120

Also backed by Amazon, Matthew Heineman’s follow-up to Oscar-nominated “Cartel Land” shows first-hand recording of life under ISIS. The documentary scored strong reviews and a decent initial response in its two New York theaters. The spate of recent Middle East region war documentaries hasn’t been an easy sell, but this gross shows that with the right push they can be viable.

What comes next: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. come aboard next week


The Little Hours

“The Little Hours”

Gunpowder & Sky

Week Two

The Little Hours (Gunsmoke & Powder)

$193,750 in 36 theaters (+34); PTA: $5,236; Cumulative: $282,023

The little bawdy nun comedy that could had a decent expansion with sufficient exposure that its further growth to over 100 theaters this Friday looks positioned for similar success.


The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (Neon)

$12,785 in 8 theaters (+5); PTA: $1,598; Cumulative: $40,318

Lesser results than normal for an Errol Morris documentary. This report on a woman whose art encompassed Polaroid pictures broadened to a handful of new cities to minor results.

13 minutes

“13 Minutes”

13 Minutes (Sony Pictures Classics)

$16,174 in 9 theaters (+6); PTA: $1,797; Cumulative: $36,374

Little traction for this 1939 Hitler assassination attempt recreation as it expanded into a handful of additional theaters.

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

The Big Sick (Lionsgate) Week 3

$3,650,000 in 366 theaters (+255); Cumulative: $6,920,000

With its third weekend, Amazon’s romantic cross-cultural dramedy looks to break out into a major mainstream success. In around 300 fewer theaters than “The Beguiled” last weekend, this grossed about $500,000 more, and placed #8 for the weekend despite its modest theater count. Lionsgate goes wide next weekend with a top five placement likely. This could easily become Amazon’s biggest hit yet.


“The Beguiled”

The Beguiled (Focus) Week 3

$2,086,000 in 941 theaters (+267); Cumulative: $7,436,000

The aggressive expansion of Sofia Coppola’s Civil War Gothic tale is accumulating a good total. The gross for the third weekend is slightly ahead of Focus’ “The Zookeeper’s Wife” a few months ago, which was at slightly more theaters (total: $10 million). This looks to reach somewhere in the low teens. That would make it Coppola’s third biggest film after “Lost in Translation” and “Marie Antoinette” (the latter’s adjusted gross is $21 million).

The Hero (The Orchard) Week 5

$651,330 in 447 theaters (+46); Cumulative: $2,810,000

Sam Elliott’s late career triumph as an aging actor summing up his life continues to attract moderate interest with a chance to get to $5 million.

Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside Attractions) Week 5

$518,765 in 417 theaters (-266); Cumulative: $5,980,000

Miguel Arteta’s zeitgeisty meeting of income disparate folks is winding down after a rapid wider release but still looks to end up somewhat over $7 million. Getting out ahead of several other films was a smart move for Roadside.

Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$190,462 in 67 theaters (+35); Cumulative: $3,203,000

Now with most of its dates in the U.S. (this Canadian co-production opened earlier in the North, which still represents the majority of the total). This story about a rural painter is retaining word of mouth despite considerable competition as it expands wider.

Paris Can Wait (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$158,766 in 131 theaters (-83); Cumulative: $5,065,000

Eleanor Coppola’s French road trip is declining late in its strong run as an early harbinger of the summer specialized revival.

The Book of Henry (Focus) Week 4

$ 96,550 in 154 theaters (-209); Cumulative: $4,218,000

Going wider initially boosted the total, but Colin Trevorrow’s return to smaller-scale film making is fading fast with few theaters left in only its fourth weekend.

The Exception (A24) Week 6

$69,900 in 48 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $518,962

Christopher Plummer as Kaiser Wilhelm II in exile continues to do modest business as another World War II related film tries to attract older audiences.

The Women’s Balcony (Menemsha) – Week 17

$53,469 in 23 (-4) theaters; Cumulative: $851,375

Slowly inching toward a possible $1 million gross, this Israeli religious drama continues to do decent business.

Also noted:

Lost in Paris (Oscilloscope) – $21,000 in 5 theaters; Cunulative: $38,666

Churchill (Cohen) – $13,402 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $1,219,00

The Bad Batch (Neon) – $9,336 in 25 theaters; Cumulative: $169,546  (also available on Video on Demand)

My Journey Through French Cinema (Cohen) – $6,420 in 4 theaters; Cumulative: $36,360

Source: IndieWire film