May 6, 2018

‘RBG’ Reigns Supreme at Subdued Specialty Box Office

While Cannes may supply some oxygen to its most export-worthy titles before they reach cinephiles stateside, the current scene is in dire need of new titles. Magnolia’s “RBG,” a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, stands out as a major new specialty opening, with a robust per-theater-average for a multi-city release.

Last week’s top opener “Disobedience” (Bleecker Street) expanded to continued good response in new cities; its crossover potential is enhanced by name stars in a sexy story as well as little competition.


RBG (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance, Miami, San Francisco 2018

$560,000 in 34 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $16,471

Magnolia could replicate its “I am Not a Negro” triumph early last year. That documentary about the iconic James Baldwin grossed over $7 million after it also launched with a strong multi-big city debut. This Sundance-debuted film about the life and career of the Supreme Court Justice notched an even better PTA in somewhat fewer theaters (“I am Not Your Negro” scored $15,962 in 43).

Magnolia (along with partner Participant Media) pursued grassroots, outside group marketing efforts to boost opening day sales; whether it sustains the level of interest of “I Am Not Your Negro” remains to be seen. Friday’s figures topped Saturday, so whether it can come close to the awards-boosted Baldwin film remains in question.

What comes next: 150 theaters will play next week (tied in with Mother’s Day), and doubling to 300 the following.

“The Guardians”

The Guardians (Music Box) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Toronto 2017

$7,199 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,199

French director Xavier Beauvois broke out domestically with “Of Gods and Men,” which grossed nearly $4 million in 2011. He focuses again on another historical story at war time, with the focus on women maintaining the home front during World War I. The single theater opening came with favorable reviews and a modest initial result.

What comes next: Los Angeles and a New York area expansion begin the roll out this Friday.

Racer and the Jailbird (Super) – Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Toronto, Venice 2017

$2,222 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,111

Two leading younger European actors (Adele Exarchopoulos and Matthias Schoenaerts) are the main draw of this sexy, dark Belgian romance between a top female race car driver and a criminal hiding his underworld milieu. That draw was limited, with less than favorable reviews dooming its initial New York/Los Angeles tallies.

What comes next: Limited at most upcoming dates seem the best hope.




Bleecker Street

Week Two

Disobedience (Bleecker Street)

$310,072 in 31 theaters (+26); PTA: $10,009; Cumulative: $638,645

The lesbian romance starring Rachels Weitz and McAdams as London friends and lovers in a close-knit Jewish community expands to top cities with top results beat only by second weekend results for “Isle of Dogs” and “The Death of Stalin.” But “Disobedience” is showing enough strength to go broader, propelled by niche audiences and the two star draws.

Let the Sunshine In (IFC); also available on Video on Demand

$66,574 in 8 theaters (+6); PTA: $9,536; Cumulative: $123,770

Claire Denis’ latest, with Juliette Binoche as a mature woman juggling romantic relationships (with an all-star French cast) expanded to a handful of new cities to a decent result these days for a subtitled film, especially given its parallel home viewing alternatives.

“Isle of Dogs”

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 7

$790,000 in 702 theaters (-299); Cumulative: $28,453,000

Wes Anderson’s animated success continues its march to over $30 million and the bench mark among specialized releases for 2018 so far.

The Death of Stalin (IFC) Week 9

$181,623 in 205 theaters (+55); Cumulative: $7,491,000

IFC maximized theatrical interest in this unlikely mixture of satire and Stalin intrigue. Now in its final weeks, the political satire remains the second biggest specialized initial platform release of 2018.

You Were Never Really Here (Amazon) Week 5

$168,905 in 185 theaters (-48); Cumulative: $2,154,000

Lynne Ramsay’s acclaimed tough drama with Joaquin Phoenix struggling to do good has not achieved interest equal to its strong reviews. It looks, despite a major push from Amazon, to finish up around $2.5 million.

“The Rider”

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$141,192 in 47 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $567,272

The grosses remain modest, but this portrayal of a young rodeo competitor coping with injury and a questionable future in the modern American west is ahead of most recent expanding films. SPC continues its slow release, boosted by near the best reviews of the year.

Lean On Pete (A24) Week 5

$121,110 in 187 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $906,050

A troubled teen finds his way with the help of a kindred soul horse. Though Andrew Haigh’s latest film continues his run of upbeat reviews, his first American film has lagged behind his earlier results.

Beirut (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$104,875 in 140 theaters (-97); Cumulative: $4,749,000

This Jon Hamm hostage negotiation drama didn’t make a deep impact; most of the runs for this mainstream-arthouse hybrid are already done.

The Leisure Seeker (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$50,250 in 76 theaters (-41); Cumulative: $3,012,000

In the fifth month of the year, this senior road trip movie with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland has the fourth highest gross among platform specialized features.

Also noted:

Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions) – $47,400 in  60 theaters; Cumulative: $1,266,000

Itzhak (Greenwich) – $30,730 in theaters; Cumulative: $433,915

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Kino Lorber) – $26,432 in theaters; Cumulative: $243,757

1945 (Menemsha) – $21,753 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $640,341

After Auschwitz (Passion River) – $12,079 in 13 theaters; Cumulative: $47,677

Godard Mon Amour (Cohen) – $11,293 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $51,222

Borg vs McEnroe (Neon) – $10,885 in 13 theaters; Cumulative: $218,757

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Source: IndieWire film