October 14, 2018

‘Beautiful Boy’ Has Best-Ever Opening for Amazon Distribution, While Netflix Tests the Waters

Beautiful Boy” did well in its initial four theaters. A heavy drug-addiction drama based on a pair of father-son memoirs is a breakout for Amazon, which has been trying to gain traction as a film distributor. Three significant Netflix films also made limited theatrical debuts this weekend: “22 July,” “The Kindergarten Teacher,” and “Apostle.” Grosses are largely hidden, per the usual Netflix affront to transparency, but we have a small indication of their draw.

The biggest-ticket Netflix item is “22 July” from Paul Greengrass, a retelling of a recent horrific massacre by a Norwegian right-wing youth. Greengrass has had a string of well-regarded studio films including two “Bourne” episodes, “United 93,” and “Captain Phillips,” and he is one of the highest-profile directors to go the Netflix route.

It had the top playoff of the three titles; one ticket-selling site lists 29 locations, including Landmark and some other independent theaters. The reserved-ticket presale site for The Landmark in Los Angeles shows a gross of around $3,000 for its first four days.

“The Kindergarten Teacher,” a remake of an Israeli drama starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and “Apostle” from “The Raid” director Gareth Evans received more limited debuts, primarily on iPic Theater locations.


Ultimately, these releases seem more like a kick-the-tires effort in advance of “Roma,” which will be a better indicator of whether dual play works for the company. In the meantime, these dates secured reviews that will ultimately support streaming viewings and more subscriptions.


Beautiful Boy (Amazon) – Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Toronto 2018

$221,437 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $55,359

Second to “Free Solo” among limited openers this season, Felix Van Groeningen’s film about a father dealing with his son’s meth addiction opened strongly in four core New York/Los Angeles theaters. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet are getting acclaim for their performances, but the film’s reviews are not as strong. That shows there is an audience for the film beyond just the usual specialized top-city ticket buyers, which could translate into significant national appeal. This is the best opener for Amazon since it switched to direct distribution.

What comes next: Eleven new cities open this week, with November 2 set for its wide release.

The Happy Prince (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin 2018

$40,267 in 8 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $5,033; Cumulative: $45,606

Rupert Everett adds directing to his considerable credits as an actor. He plays Oscar Wilde as he lies ill in Paris and recounts his colorful life. This opened in New York and Los Angeles as well as Phoenix, with a modest initial result.

What comes next: Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington open this Friday to start the usual comprehensive SPC release.

The Oath Tiffany Haddish Ike Barinholtz

“The Oath”


The Oath (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Los Angeles 2018

$29,237 in 10 theaters; PTA: $2,937

A Thanksgiving dinner turns scary with the question of a signing a loyalty oath to the government in this ensemble comedy/drama. The cast includes rising star Tiffany Haddish along with John Cho. Reviews were not particularly supportive. It opened in New York and Los Angeles as well as six D.C. area locations, with at best modest initial results.

What comes next: This will have a quick expansion to 250 theaters this Friday.

Liyana (Abramorama) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Los Angeles, London 2017

$5,030 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $5,030; Cumulative: $5,710

Documentary releases these days often focus on creators and the creative process. This Africa-set story about orphans whose teacher encourages them to write a folktale takes a different route in telling its narrative, animating the tale with drawings by a Nigerian artist. Its exclusive New York opening showed some initial response to launch its national release.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with mostly limited calendar dates ahead.

Charm City (PBS) – Festivals include: Tribeca 2018

$10,854 in 1 theater; PTA: $10,854

Charm City is a nickname attached to Baltimore by civic leaders in the 1970s, ironically used here for this documentary about attempts by officials, the police, and citizens to confront local tensions and violence. It opened at one local theater to a strong result ahead of other big-city dates.

What comes next: New York opens Wednesday with Los Angeles on Friday.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer (GVN)

$1,236,000 in 673 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,836

Under the radar except in areas with significant fundamentalist Christian cores (that is to say, much of the country), this recounting of the trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider is, as its title suggests, is preaching to the choir. That choir is sizable with over $1 million for the initial weekend, although Friday was the best day. This should get a second week at most theaters before a likely afterlife in multiple non-theatrical venues.

What comes next: This looks to have hit its maximum in theaters.

Jane and Emma (Excel)

$122,000 in 21 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $5,810

Initially released in Utah and other areas with large Mormon audiences, this 19th-century story about the unlikely friendship of two women from different races early in the religion’s history did decent business among the faithful.

What comes next: Likely to have appeal among a core group, the initial numbers are good enough to attract interest beyond its initial dates.

Photo Credit: ERIKA DOSS

Week Two

The Hate U Give (20th Century Fox)

$1,765,000 in 248 theaters (+212); PTA: $7,117; Cumulative: $2,477,000

An excellent second weekend for George Tillman Jr.’s drama about the aftermath of a police shooting. 20th Century Fox, not usually in the business of platform and limited releases, has pushed all the right buttons. Despite only having 248 dates in its second weekend, this placed #9 in this weekend’s Top 10, with strong Saturday-night increases in mostly new theaters. That suggests it continues to get a strong reaction with a chance of considerably wider positive response.

Studio 54 (Zeitgeist)

$23,700 in 6 theaters (+5); PTA: $3,950; Cumulative: $52,064

The 1970s New York club gets its documentary treatment. New dates including Los Angeles show interest is still out there.

The Great Buster: A Celebration (Cohen)

$3,289 in 1 theaters (-1); PTA: $3,289; Cumulative: $14,911

Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary on the brilliant movie comedian held for a second week in New York with modest results.


Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Colette (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$1,037,000 in 593 theaters (+486); Cumulative: $2,588,000

Released in participation with 30Wes, this biopic saw a big jump in theaters. Grosses are similar to Bleecker Street’s “Captain Fantastic” and the current “The Wife,” both of which reached nearly $6 million or more.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 3

$859,051 in 131 theaters (+90); Cumulative: $2,144,000

National Geographical’s latest release continues to score excellent results as it bids to join other top documentary films. Several new West Coast cities opened with very strong reaction. This is playing to a younger crowd than other recent documentary hits. Much of the country has not yet opened, and this is only in the early stage of expansion.

The Old Man & the Gun (Fox Searchlight) Week 3

$912,000 in 228 theaters (+179); Cumulative: $1,697,000

Robert Redford as an older criminal is getting continued good reaction as it expands. The theater average is around the level of “The Wife” and “Colette” when they played at fewer theaters. That suggests this could ultimately reach an even wider audience.


“The Sisters Brothers”

Magali Bragard

The Sisters Brothers (Annapurna) Week 4

$258,355 in 129 theaters (+75); Cumulative: $1,071,000

The latest ambitious film from the always creative Annapurna, in the news this week with internal reorganization after disappointing results, continues its slow expansion. Like most of their films, this Western outlaw story with Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly is doing well enough to warrant some wider play, but looks to still end up with modest totals.

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$215,872 in 201 theaters (-157); Cumulative: $7,242,000

The Glenn Close-starring marital drama is still adding to its quite decent totals late in its run.

Tea With the Dames (IFC) Week 4

$99,614 in 73 theaters (+28); Cumulative: $303,363

This documentary about Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright is finding a willing audience in still-limited dates.

Fahrenheit 11/9 (Briarcliff) Week 4

$(est.) 60,000 in 95 theaters (-327); Cumulative: $(est.) 6,160,000

Michael Moore’s pre-election cry to action has lost most of its theaters, but the remaining include some that could stick around until midterm voting.


Also noted:

Mandy (RLJ) – $43,711 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $1,113,000

Monsters and Men (Neon) – $30,302 in 65 theaters; Cumulative: $445,237

Pick of the Litter (IFC) – $24,278 in theaters; Cumulative: $500,141; also streaming

Matanga/Maya/M.I.A. (Abramorama) – $22,974 in 9 theaters; Cumulative: $144,491

All About Nina (The Orchard) – $14,902 in 54 theaters; Cumulative: $77,123

Blaze (IFC) – $13,486 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $680,102

The Bookshop (Greenwich) – $12,636 in 26 theaters; Cumulative: $1,601,000

Science Fair (National Geographic) – $12,480 in 26 theaters; Cumulative: $195,908

Source: IndieWire film