May 20, 2018
Two very different films — Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” and a 70mm reissue of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” — stand out among the new releases this weekend. The first represents a critical career high for a director who made his first film 40 years ago, while the revival is from a director who died 19 years ago, and made one of the the most modern films in 1968.
Standout documentary “RBG” joins them, but other well-reviewed films are seeing more mixed results. However, there’s enough viable titles to fill screens while Marvel gets nearly all of the theatrical attention.
First Reformed (A24) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2017
$100,270 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $25,067
Schrader has a long career as a screenwriter (“Taxi Driver”) and director (American Gigolo”), but his career has seen spotty critical and audience reception. “First Reformed,” with Ethan Hawke as a clergyman experiencing spiritual crisis, changed that: It’s received among the best reviews of any film this year. Playing at major New York/Los Angeles locations (and thriving without Lincoln Plaza, where normally this might have played in Manhattan), this is an impressive result considering the more rigorous subject matter.
What comes next: With clear adult appeal established as well as strong reviews backing it, expect this to see ongoing arthouse success at a minimum, with A24 attempting to replicate some level of their usual wider release.
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Focus) – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Cannes 2018
$480,000 in 346 theaters; PTA: $1,389
The first of this year’s Cannes premieres to be released, Wim Wenders’ study of the current pontiff went with a national release targeting his flock. However, it received only a fraction of the interest earned by other religion-themed films.
What comes next: This will stay at the current level for another week before further expansion the following Friday.
On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Toronto 2017
$36,563 in 4 theaters; PTA: $9,141
Saorise Ronan came to fame in “Atonement” from a novel by Ian McEwan, who also wrote “On Chesil Beach.” The 1962 romance is the second in two weeks with “Lady Bird” star Ronan (“The Seagull” earlier). It opened in four prime New York/Los Angeles locations to mixed initial results.
What comes next: Additional cities roll out starting this week.
That Summer (IFC) – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Telluride 2017, Berlin 2018
$6,018 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,018
The Beales — mother and daughter — were subjects of the Maysles Brothers’ “Grey Gardens” in the 1970s and an HBO film recreating their story. This documentary adds newly seen footage from an even earlier period. It opened at the IFC Center to middling results, but the subject likely will get this future interest in multiple venues.
What comes next: Los Angeles debuts this Friday.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Warner Bros. reissue)
$200,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $50,000
Backed by Christopher Nolan, this rare 70mm reissue on the 50th anniversary of Kubrick’s classic did very strong business in four cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco) as it begins play at limited theaters over the next few weeks. (Few have the technology to show it.) These are stellar numbers, particularly since (aside from Arclight Hollywood) these theaters are not usually among the initial top-platform locations.
What comes next: Starting June 1 and through the summer, more than 20 new dates are planned across the country.
The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics)
$65,949 in 13 theaters (+7); PTA: $5,073; Cumulative: $180,865
This stellar actress-led adaptation of Chekhov’s play added a handful of cities. It is getting at best modest results as it begins to expand.
Beast (Roadside Attractions)
$102,250 in 31 theaters (+27); PTA: $3,298; Cumulative: $181,264
This murder thriller set on the remote Island of Jersey moved into multiple new cities with a modest response. A specialized future ahead.
Revenge (Neon) – also streaming
$11,204 in 15 theaters (-22); PTA: $747; Cumulative: $82,562
Coralie Fargeat’s feminist action story is getting most of its viewing at home, with fewer theaters playing this weekend and minimal business.
Boom for Real: The Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Magnolia) 2-38041
$(est.) 20,500 in 9 theaters (+7); PTA: $(est.) 2,778; Cumulative: $(est.) 58,500
The initial expansion for Sara Driver’s documentary about the early days of the iconic 1980s New York street artist had a mixed response in its initial dates.
Always at the Carlyle (Good Deed)
$11,999 in 7 theaters (+6); PTA: $1,714; Cumulative: $27,177
The second weekend for this documentary about the stylish Manhattan hotel in Los Angeles and other new theaters fell short of its respectable initial exclusive Manhattan gross last weekend.
$4,000 in 1 theater (no change); PTA: 4,000; Cumulative: $39,068
The New York-exclusive run for this Australian documentary on extreme mountaineers saw a respectable hold in its second weekend. Los Angeles opens this Friday, with other cities to come.
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
RBG (Magnolia) Week 3
$1,280,000 in 375 theaters (+196); Cumulative: $3,881,000
The third weekend for this breakout documentary about the Supreme Court justice remained in the overall top 10 a second week, with a near doubling of theaters. The per-theater result dropped by about half to about $3,400, not unusual with expansion; that’s still an impressive result.
Disobedience (Bleecker Street) Week 4
$498,612 in 247 theaters (+147); Cumulative: $2,018,000
Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s follow-up to his Oscar winning “A Fantastic Woman” has gone wider. With Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as women in love in a conservative London synagogue, this already has posted a higher gross. The quickly expanding film is finding interest, but the grosses suggest it remains more of an arthouse than crossover item.
Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 9
$325,000 in 288 theaters (-758); Cumulative: $30,723,000
Wes Anderson’s second animated film looks to end up fifth best among his nine releases, a little below “Rushmore” in adjusted grosses, and about $6 million ahead of his earlier “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$169,640 in 90 theaters (+5); Cumulative: $1,112,000
Per-theater average decreased about a third, with about the same number of still limited theaters. With earlier grosses modest though steady, this drop suggests that word of mouth is uneven at best for Chloe Zhao’s highly acclaimed story of coming of age in the modern west.
Let the Sunshine In (IFC) Week 4; also streaming
$94,602 in 49 theaters (+15); Cumulative: $347,909
Claire Denis’ French middle-aged romantic ensemble film continues to get theatrical play while it also streams for home viewing. This will end up an above-average subtitled release.
The Death of Stalin (IFC) Week 11
$61,432 in 56 theaters (-74); Cumulative: $7,814,000
Months after its March release, this acclaimed comedy has defied the odds against political satire finding an audience. That its creator also found gold with “Veep” helps explain its success.
You Were Never Really Here (Amazon) – $30,272 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $2,453,000
Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions) – $15,075 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $1,377,000
The Guardians (Music Box) – $10,599 in theaters; Cumulative: $35,550
Source: IndieWire film