August 27, 2017

As Box Office Goes to Hell, Specialty Market Hangs on with ‘Beach Rats’

On a disastrous weekend at the overall box office –with the lowest per capita attendance since the FDR administration — specialty movies did comparatively better. On a smaller scale.

Still, continuing a recent trend, a slew of Sundance premieres expanded to weak results. “Ingrid Goes West” (Neon) and “Good Time” (A24), both with significant support and strong theater placement, are barely treading water in most locations as they broaden.

Beach Rats” (Neon), another Sundance American indie, leads among new openers with an adequate start in its initial two city dates. But it is below other films that are now struggling to find interest with broader audiences.

Like the mainstream market, the specialized scene has gone from a strong early summer with several notable titles (led by “The Big Sick”) to a wide number of disappointments that have come and gone very quickly. With the fall festival and awards season just around the corner, things could change. But things look bleak at the moment.


Beach Rats (Neon) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Sundance, New Directors/New Films, San Francisco, Seattle 2017

$45,008 in 3 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,003

Strong theater placement in New York and Los Angeles, upbeat reviews and significant ad support led to a positive but still sub-$20,000 per theater average seen by multiple recent limited releases (many of which have failed to show strength much beyond initial dates) for another Sundance premiere with a younger feel. Set among working-class Brooklyn characters, the movie faces the challenge of reaching audiences close to the age of those in the film who increasingly are shunning most specialized films.

What comes next: This expands to major cities for the holiday weekend.


Polina (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Venice 2016

$13,250 in 2 theaters; PTA: $6,625

This French film about a budding ballet choreographer opened at two prime Manhattan theaters with positive reviews and a gross good enough to suggest a modest national release ahead.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday.

patti cakes sundance

“Patti Cake$”


Week Two

Patti Cake$ (Fox Searchlight)

$105,000 in 59 theaters (+45); PTA: $1,780; Cumulative: $197,394

The second weekend expansion of this, yet another strong Sundance shown title, continues the minor response seen in its opening select theaters last week.

Crown Heights (IFC)

$32,800 in 10 theaters (+7); PTA: $3,200; Cumulative: $69,812

The second weekend expansion of this true story of the quest to prove the innocence of a convicted felon showed some positive results, with a particularly strong increase on Saturday suggesting some strong word of mouth that could lead to further interest ahead.



Courtesy of Sundance Institute, photo by Ante Cheng

Gook (Goldwyn)

$75,734 in 24 theaters (+22); PTA: $3,156; Cumulative: $109,678

Set among Los Angeles’ Korean community during the 1992 riots, this expansion (including its initial New York dates) shows clear interest in targeted areas.

Marjorie Prime (FilmRise)

$23,000 in 10 theaters (+4); PTA: $2,300; Cumulative: $53,890

Veteran actress Lois Smith’s acclaimed performance is a main draw in this story of a widow reunited with her late husband via A.I. technology as it expands to modest reaction so far.

California Typewriter (Gravitas Ventures)

$16,336 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $8,168; Cumulative: $21,442

This documentary about old-school writers and their attachment to typewriters is getting above average (these days) grosses in its limited initial dates, with a particularly good gross at New York’s Lincoln Plaza. It opens in Los Angeles this Friday.

Ingrid Goes West

“Ingrid Goes West”

Courtesy of Sundance

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

Ingrid Goes West (Neon) Week 3

$781,750 in 647 theaters (+621); Cumulative: $1,322,000

Another Sundance sensation finds much more limited public interest in a wider release. Neon deserves credit as a new distributor in reaching this wide a release, but the results don’t suggest the effort for this social media sensation story was worth making.

Good Time (A24) Week 3

$610,890 in 721 theaters (+701); Cumulative: $1,029,000

Weak expansion for another acclaimed film Sundance film, with the Safdie Brothers’ prison break attempt tale with Robert Pattinson failing to gain much attention (under $1,000 per theater) in a disappointing expansion.

The Big Sick (Lionsgate) Week 10

$745,000 in 706 theaters (+88); Cumulative: $39,266,000

The year’s biggest independent film (and Amazon’s second biggest overall) is still ahead of most of titles late in its run.

Detroit (Annapurna) Week 5

$231,000 in 525 theaters (-903); Cumulative: $16,153,000

Down to token shows at most theaters, Kathryn Bigelow’s mostly acclaimed (though with some dissent) 1967 riot-set drama will end up with little more than it has already amassed despite an aggressive wide release after its initial platform dates.

“The Only Living Boy in New York”

The Only Living Boy in New York (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$175,627 in 289 theaters (+223); Cumulative: $385,856

Marc Webb’s most recent film though somewhat similar in style and tone to his debut “(500) Days of Summer” is only going to do a small fraction of that film’s numbers as it quickly fades to oblivion.

The Trip to Spain (IFC) Week 3; also available on Video on Demand

$132,048 in 56 theaters (+37); Cumulative: $248,048

A decent response with its parallel VOD component for this third road trip hosted by Steve Coogan.

Menashe (A24) Week 5

$172,510 in 103 theaters (+17); Cumulative: $973,593

This American-made subtitled (in Yiddish) Orthodox community set custody battle story is steadily climbing to $1 million total, uncommon these days for non-English language titles.

Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 20

$91,051 in 96 theaters (-28); Cumulative: $5,781,000

One of the more slowly percolating mid-level specialized successes of the summer is still adding to its totals, which include nearly $3 million in the U.S. (the rest in Canada, its setting).

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Paramount) Week 5

$80,000 in 127 theaters (-187); Cumulative: $3,325,000

This documentary update on climate change strategies is nearing the end of its relatively brief run with only a fraction of what “An Inconvenient Truth” took in, although it stands near the top of non-fiction film releases this year.

Columbus (Superlative) Week 4

$68,680 in 22 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $242,727

Currently the best reviewed specialized film in release (Metacritic is at 90), this self-released independent film set in a mid-size Indiana city known for its elevated architecture continues to do respectable business as it opens in new cities.

Step (Fox Searchlight) Week 4

$66,000 in 118 theaters (-188); Cumulative: $972,590

Quickly fading despite Searchlight’s considerable backing, this Baltimore-set youth dance competition documentary never caught on.

Also noted:

Brigsby Bear (Sony Pictures Classics) – $30,118 in 94 theaters; Cumulative: $458,773

The Little Hours (Gunpowder & Sky) – $21,408 in theaters; Cumulative: $1,551,000

Lady Macbeth (Roadside Attractions) – $ in 41 theaters; Cumulative:

The Hero (The Orchard) – $15,498 in 37 theaters; Cumulative: $4,024,000

Landline (IFC) – $15,300 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $896,113

Source: IndieWire film