June 24, 2018

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ Outpaces ‘RBG’ as ‘The King’ Opens Strong

Yet another strong documentary tops new releases this weekend: Elvis Presley biodoc “The King” (Oscilloscope) from veteran documentarian Eugene Jarecki shows future interest. That said, it won’t register the massive numbers for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Focus) and the continued success of “RBG” (Magnolia), two documentaries on iconic contemporary personalities that are both building continued response from audiences.

Other openings include a decent result for the Brazilian “Araby” in one theater. “Boundaries” (Sony Pictures Classics) fared less well despite some star presence in its initial two city openings.


The King (Oscilloscope) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Cannes 2017, Sundance 2018

$29,050 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,525

The first theatrical feature since 2012 from acclaimed documentary director Eugene Jarecki (“The House I Live In,” “Why We Fight”) opened to respectable results in two Manhattan theaters. A shorter version of last year’s Sundance premiere “Promised Land,” “The King” uses a cross-country trip in  Elvis Presley’s Rolls Royce to look at the state of the country in a much different era. Of note in its initial results is the strength of Landmark’s Upper West Side new theater on West 57th Street, which topped the established IFC Center in initial grosses.

What comes next: An exclusive Los Angeles run starts Friday followed a week later by San Francisco, leading into a 50 city minimum national release.

Damsel (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin, South by Southwest 2018

$21,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $7,000

Actor Robert Pattinson continues to choose challenging offbeat roles like this alternative Western. After extensive festival play, this landed initial New York and Los Angeles exposure accompanied by mildly favorable reviews.

What comes next: Additional dates start this Friday.

boundaries plummer


Boundaries (Sony Pictures Classics)  – Metacritic: 50; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Newport Beach 2018

$30,395 in 5 theaters; PTA: $6,079

Director Shana Feste directed middling 2014 studio release “Endless Love.” She moves to specialized with another road movie, which, similar to SPC’s recent “The Leisure Seeker,” has a senior citizen hook. Christopher Plummer plays an elderly rogue kicked out of his retirement home; daughter Vera Farmiga drives him south from Seattle with her son. SPC booked top theaters in New York and Los Angeles, but weak reviews and a familiar story lead to a flat initial result. Controversy over political comments from supporting player Peter Fonda gave the film some unwanted publicity, but likely had little impact in the results.

What comes next: San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington are the next openings this Friday, followed by the usual SPC nationwide roll out.

Araby (Grasshopper) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Rotterdam, New Directors/New Films 2017

$10,179 in 1 theater; PTA: $10,179

This Brazilian film rated the best reviews of this week’s releases. A multi-year road movie which reaches little-seen parts of the vast country –similar to other journey movies — examines wider contemporary life and values from the perspective of working class subjects. It opened exclusively at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, where the strong critical response elevated it to an impressive initial result.

What comes next: Most bookings ahead are similar calendar and very specialized locations (no Los Angeles date is posted).

Spiral (Cohen)  – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Doc NY 2017

$3,682 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,841

Cohen Releasing owner Charles Cohen is one of the producers of this documentary about the rise of anti-semitism, including violence, in Europe. It opened in Manhattan and Los Angeles to minor response so far.

What comes next: The topic and Cohen Releasing’s involvement ensure further bookings ahead in major cities.

"The Catcher Was a Spy"

“The Catcher Was a Spy”


The Catcher Was a Spy (IFC)  – Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Sundance 2018

$122,494 in 45 theaters; PTA: $2,520

This retelling of how a top baseball player (Paul Rudd) got involved with combatting German efforts to develop nuclear weapons posted some decent numbers in its best theaters in nationwide release, with an effort to reach urban older Jewish audiences. IFC is hoping word of mouth works to overcome the mediocre reviews, with initial signs they may have some success.

What comes next: There could be additional theaters, but it appears IFC has found the bulk of its audience already.

“Eating Animals”

Week Two

Eating Animals (IFC)

$23,056 in 6 theaters (+4); PTA: $3,843; Cumulative: $62,390

This passionate documentary about animal farms and how meat is produced added Los Angeles this weekend. The gross continues to show niche interest at least in the subject.

Gotti (Vertical)

$812,000 in 466 theaters (-37); PTA: $1,742; Cumulative: $3,254,000

This much derided gangster biopic with John Travolta dropped by more than half from its first weekend. Still, its modest gross with a far less than wide release isn’t quite the disaster it has been made out to be.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Focus) Week 3

$1,875,000 in 348 theaters (+252); Cumulative: $4,131,000

The Mr. Rogers life story proved this weekend to be an even bigger breakout success than the already successful “RBG.” Playing in fewer theaters than the Justice Ginsberg documentary in its third weekend, this grossed about 50 per cent more, and in a more crowded release period repeated the earlier film’s Top Ten placement with only a fraction of the theaters of other titles on the list.

The film appears to have the momentum to add substantially to its total despite its summer release date. This will increase to over 500 theaters next week, with more likely beyond that. Along with that should come an ultimate gross that will place this above all but “Isle of Dogs” among this year’s specialized releases.

Barry Keoghan "American Animals"

“American Animals”

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

American Animals (The Orchard) Week 4

$576,215 in 339 theaters (+257); Cumulative: $1,462,000

The major expansion of this true-life college library heist has a mixed result about equal to the recent similar expansion of “First Reformed.” The Saturday increase (48 per cent over Friday) shows a combination of older audience interest and initial positive reaction.

RBG (Magnolia) Week 8

$425,000 in 209 theaters (-79); Cumulative: $10,864,000

Already established as Magnolia’s top-grosser, this review of the life of the Supreme Court Justice is still showing impressive results nearly two months into its release.

Hearts Beat Loud (Gunpowder & Sky) Week 3

$319,349 in 104 theaters (+21); Cumulative: $795,020

This father-daughter music success story continues to see some heartland interest with the per theater results about the same despite more screens added this week.

"First Reformed"

“First Reformed”


First Reformed (A24) Week 6

$228,000 in 151 theaters (-122); Cumulative: $2,858,000

The remaining theaters for Paul Schrader’s acclaimed crisis of faith drama scored higher than last week. If A24 hangs onto a core number, the film could still reach $4 million.

The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$97,071 in 145 theaters (-66); Cumulative: $1,057,000

This Chekhov adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan and Annette Bening hasn’t caught on despite its cast.

Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 14

$(est.) 52,000 in 57 theaters (-28); Cumulative: $(est.) 31,790,000

Wes Anderson’s animated success is still holding in some theaters very late in its run.

Also noted:

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) – $41,646 in 54 theaters; Cumulative: $2,204,000

Summer 1993 (Oscilloscope) – $22,500 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $133,226

Disobedience (Bleecker Street)- $21,811 in 24 theaters; Cumulative: $3,417,000

The Guardians (Music Box) – $13,582 in 6 theaters; Cumulative: $103,761

On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street) – $12,353 in 22 theaters; Cumulative: $714,671

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Source: IndieWire film