October 1, 2017

Harry Dean Stanton’s Next-to-Last Film ‘Lucky’ Leads Crowded Specialty Box Office

Nearly 30 specialized films debuted in New York and/or Los Angeles this week. And with Yom Kippur falling right during the weekend, it meant most potentially high-end titles avoided the date (unlike last weekend).

Perhaps the highest-profile among them, “Our Souls at Night” starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, is debuting on Netflix film at the same time it played a few scattered big city play dates (grosses are not available).

Among those that opened, “Lucky” (Magnolia), Harry Dean Stanton’s second to last acting role, opened ahead of the rest. The initial limited full week (prior to its one-day showings) of “Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two” (Abramorama) showed some strength, while “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (Sony Pictures Classics) fared less well in its limited showings. An exclusive opening in Los Angeles of the surfer documentary “Take Every Wave” (IFC) in Los Angeles was impressive, more so as it is also available on Video on Demand.

Of greater interest is the limited expansion of “Victoria and Abdul” and much wider one for “The Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight), two top tier titles starting the fall onslaught. The former in fewer theaters continues to show significant promise. The latter in over 1,000 theaters was a leap of faith in going as wide as it has, with positive initial results but the determination of its future will be better seen next week.


Lucky (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Locarno 2017

$46,000 in 5 theaters; PTA: $9,200

The film nabbed decent reviews for its prime New York/Los Angeles dates, but even had Harry Dean Stanton not died two weeks ago, the iconic actor was playing an elderly man who knows his days are numbered, and scoring the best reviews of his career would have been the focus and draw for this film in any case. It landed top theater placement, with numbers that showed a good Saturday increase. Still, the under $10,000 PTA suggest this is a niche, not crossover, item.

What comes next: 10 more cities add on this Friday before a wider release.

Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two (Abramorama)  – Metacritic: 75

$55,274 in 7 theaters; PTA: $11,055

A concert film with a context, with the band playing at Wrigley Field during the Cubs’ historic 2016 season (Eddie Vedder’s fandom is front and center), opened in five cities for full week engagements. This  release (200 additional Wednesday night engagements lie immediately ahead) is the latest successful hybrid event release (mostly music related, with “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” the high point) that Abramorama initiated some years ago and is now more common.

What comes next: These decent numbers should be followed by much larger ones midweek.

Liam Neeson in Mark Felt The Man Who Brought Down the White House

“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House”

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 47; Festivals include: Toronto

$35,138 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,028

Mediocre reviews and outright pans doomed this dramatization of the real life Deep Throat starring Liam Neeson as Mark Felt, who served as the source for Woodward and Bernstein during Watergate. For the theaters and effort supporting this release, these are rock bottom numbers.

What comes next: Three more cities open next week with the usual SPC full country specialized release ahead.

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (IFC)   Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle 2017; also available on Video on Demand

$13,819 in 1 theater; PTA: $13,819

Veteran documentary director Rory Kennedy’s latest got an initial Los Angeles awards qualfiying date for this recap of the life and career of surfer Laird Hamilton. The result is impressive, boosted by a strong Los Angeles Times review which emphasized the visual appeal of the film. Films like this often have a strong initial day with a second day falloff (hardcore fans tend to turn out early), but this went up Saturday, which suggests potential deeper appeal. What makes it more impressive is its concurrent Video on Demand availability.

What comes next: The plans had been for limited theatrical play, but this gross could encourage more interest. Two New York theaters open this Friday.

Te Ata (Paladin)  – Festivals include: San Diego 2016

$28,640 in 14 theaters; PTA: $2,046

This first-ever Chickasaw Nation-produced feature (about a renowned early 20th Century storyteller) was released initially in Oklahoma to respectable results for a regional release.

What comes next: Around 50 additional theaters from Arkansas to the West Coast open this Friday.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)Emma StonePhoto Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

“Battle of the Sexes”

Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

Week Two

Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight)

$4,073,000 in 1,213 theaters (+1,192); PTA: $2,803; Cumulative: $4,073,000

The wisdom of the rapid expansion for this retelling of the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis exhibition will be clearer after next weekend. The initial result is positive (including a #6 placement overall on an off weekend), if somewhat below other Searchlight expansions, with a 32 per cent uptick for Saturday. The key is going to be how positive the response is. If they gambled correctly, the results should be seen shortly. With its commercial elements (including Emma Stone and Steve Carrell in lead roles), this still has a chance to be an early fall crossover success.

Stronger (Roadside Attractions)

$986,560 in 645 theaters (+72); PTA: $1,530; Cumulative: $3,229,000

The mediocre opening for this Jake Gyllenhaal Boston Marathon bombing survivor was followed by a more normal second weekend. But the film need signs of good word of mouth to sustain this for a much longer run. This isn’t showing that, with a $5 million ultimate total gross in view but not much more.

Judi Dench victoria and abdul

“Victoria and Abdul”

Screenshot/Focus Features

Victoria & Abdul (Focus)

$1,031,000 in 77 theaters (+73); PTA: $13,393; Cumulative: $1,252,000

This is one of the better second weekend expansions from Focus in recent years (ahead of, for example, their Oscar contender “Loving” last year). The Stephen Frears charmer starring Dame Judi Dench showed a very strong 56 per cent increase on Saturday. This will expand to 700 theaters this Friday, and looks well positioned to see a decent crossover result.

Loving Vincent (Good Deed)

$52,886 in 4 theaters (+3); PTA: $13,322; Cumulative: $89,692

An excellent second weekend for this intriguing animation of Van Gogh’s paintings, with a second Manhattan location and two Los Angeles theaters added to the mix. This looks like it could end up above several other higher profile established distributor releases.



Unrest (Independent)

$12,096 in 6 theaters (+5); PTA: $2,016; Cumulative: $25,689

This documentary about chronic fatigue syndrome (from the perspective of a directed afflicted by it) expanded to three more cities its second weekend to modest but consistent results.

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

Wind River (Weinstein) Week 9

$600,159 in 892 theaters (-539); Cumulative: $32,790,000

The last stages for this impressive run for a contemporary drama which benefited from the timing and breadth of its release to reach the second best initial limited release specialized film of 2017.

"Brad's Status"

“Brad’s Status”

Brad’s Status (Annapurna) Week 3

$404,000 in 453 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $1,770,000

Positive reviews and Ben Stillman’s presence are doing little to sustain Mike White’s Amazon Studio pickup, a midlife introspective father/son story. The gross dropped 58 per cent with the same theater count, with Yom Kippur a factor but still a very weak performance.

Viceroy’s House (IFC) Week 5

$108,624 in 108 theaters (-8); Cumulative: $910,739

This period historical drama set in 1947 India is holding on at at minor level, with little more than a $1 million total likely.

Columbus (Superlative) Week 9

$53,640 in 49 theaters (-8); Cumulative: $836,491

Inching its way to a potentially impressive $1 million total for this true American independent film. The quiet Indiana-set drama continues to do steady business across the country.

Also noted:

Dolores (PBS) – $46,695 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $345,685

The Big Sick (Lionsgate) – $45,000 in 81 theaters; Cumulative: $42,788,000

Rebel in the Rye (IFC) – $26,548 in 72 theaters; Cumulative: $327,765

California Typewriter (Gravitas Ventures) – $18,075 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $185,516

Beach Rats (Neon) – $17,495 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $437,354

Ingrid Goes West (Neon) – $13,950 in 48 theaters; Cumulative: $3,003,000


Source: IndieWire film