‘Lady Bird’ Takes Flight as Best Specialty Opener of 2017

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Lady Bird” (A24), Greta Gerwig’s first solo directing effort, rode a wave of strong reviews and publicity to score the best limited opener of the year. After a disappointing prime specialty season when it has become easy to forget what a strong limited platform opening can be, her valentine to her home town of Sacramento starring Saorise Ronan debuted even higher than expectations.

This success stood in sharp contrast to the weak opening for Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” (Lionsgate). Despite a strong push for the Amazon presentation, which opened the New York Film Festival, the military veteran drama starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne couldn’t pull in specialty audiences.

Opening

Lady Bird (A24) – Metacritic: 93; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto, New York 2017

$375,612 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $93,903

The first breakout hit of the awards season is also the biggest specialized release of the year (topping “The Big Sick”) and the best since “La La Land” last December ($176,000). It edges out (in adjusted numbers) Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” as the best ever limited debut for a movie directed by a woman. These top-rank numbers mark yet another triumph for A24, which looks to repeat last year’s Oscar-winning “Moonlight” performance, as well as producer Scott Rudin, an Oscar perennial.

By contrast to familiar biopics and other highly touted releases this fall, well-reviewed “Lady Bird” stood out with its mother-daughter story, youthful point-of-view and a sense of originality. And it wasn’t just an opening day event: Saturday went up a strong 36 per cent.

This is the best specialized news since “The Big Sick.” In a disappointing year, Gerwig proves that it’s is still possible to excite and expand the arthouse audience.

What comes next: This expands to other top cities this Friday, with a wide national release set by Thanksgiving.

“Last Flag Flying”

Last Flag Flying (Lionsgate) – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: New York, London 2017

$42,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $10,500

Richard Linklater’s latest film, backed by Amazon, received a high profile launch, strong publicity, marketing and ad support, some personal appearances included among its four prime New York/Los Angeles theaters. But this loose adaptation of the sequel to “The Last Detail” failed to attract an audience equal to its potential, with a weak total. This is the lowest limited opening ever for a Linklater film other than “Tape” (2001), with a big falloff from “Boyhood” but also the disappointing “Everybody Wants Some!!” last year.

What comes next: 20+ new dates open this week, with a wider release by Thanksgiving planned.

"LBJ"

“LBJ”

Castle Rock Entertainment

LBJ (Electric)  – Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Toronto 2016

$1,138,000 in 659 theaters; PTA: $1,727

Rob Reiner’s biopic of the 36th president starring Woody Harrelson in the title role finally opened over a year after its Toronto premiere (oddly the same weekend as “Lady Bird,” which has nothing to do with his wife). An aggressive campaign across the country received only minor results. The glut of films about real life figures continues to see flat results.

What comes next: This did enough to sustain these runs for a second week, but beyond that not much more.

My Friend Dahmer (First Run) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Tribeca 2017

$45,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $11,250

This unheralded biopic about the cannibal mass killer managed to get a PTA higher than “The Last Flag” in its New York/Los Angeles openings. Its roots as a graphic novel have it a boost. The film had a healthy 26 per cent jump Saturday, suggesting decent initial reaction and not just a one day wonder.

What comes next: Seven more theaters open this Friday, with this result likely to open further doors.

Wait for Your Laugh (Vitagraph) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Mill Valley 2017

$17,600 in 2 theaters; PTA: $8,800

Veteran 94-year-old comic actress Rose Marie (best known as Sally in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” is portrayed here in this documentary. It opened in two New York theaters to decent numbers, though a majority of it came on opening night.

What comes next: San Francisco opens this week, Los Angeles on Nov. 17 among other new dates planned ahead.

“Gilbert”

Gilbert (Submarine Deluxe) – Metacritic: 68

$8,362 in 1 theater; PTA: $8,362

The second of two comic performer documentaries this week opened with a majority of its estimated weekend on its first night, not unusual when an opening (in this case an exclusive New York run) attracts core friends and fans of its subject. In this case it’s veteran comedian Gilbert Gottfried.

What comes next: Seven additional theaters come on next this Friday.

1945 (Menemsha) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Berlin, Chicago 2017

$23,412 in 2 theaters; PTA: $11,706; Cumulative: $29,365

Holocaust survivors returning to their small Hungarian town and their unfriendly welcome are the subject of this film, which opened in two Manhattan theaters last Wednesday. The Lincoln Square had one of its best weekends of the season (over $18,000), and Saturday numbers doubled Friday. Menemsha looks to have another strong niche film after its earlier $1 million+ gross for the Israeli “The Woman’s Balcony.”

What comes next: The expansion ahead includes Los Angeles theaters on Nov. 24.

Also available on Video on Demand:

Blade of the Immortal (Magnolia/Cannes 2017) – $42,000 in 32 theaters

Frank Serpico (IFC/Tribeca 2017) – $2,238 in 1 theater; Cumulative: $4,860

Week Two

The Square (Magnolia)

$102,000 in 19 theaters (+15); PTA: $5,368; Cumulative: $207,456

In the tricky world of subtitled films, the second weekend expansion of this Swedish Palme d’Or winner is better than average. The numbers are ahead of the similarly comedic “Toni Erdmann” when it played in 20 theaters after having scored an Oscar nomination.

Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics)

$54,898 in 16 theaters (+13); PTA: $3,431; Cumulative: $89,493

This drama of a young aspiring American nun during the turbulent 1960s showed similar modest results in its second week big city expansion to its two-city openings.

“God’s Own Country”

gay god's own country francis lee british

God’s Own Country (Orion)

$(est.) 22,500 in 5 theaters (+3); PTA: $(est.) 4,500; Cumulative: $(est.) 50,500

This well reviewed British drama about the unexpected attraction between a farmer and an immigrant worker continues to show modest interest in its second weekend.

Mansfield 66/67

“Mansfield 66/67”

Mansfield 66/67 (Film Buff)

$4,001 in 12 theaters (+10); PTA: $333; Cumulative: $12,427

Some initial signs of life in this retelling of the last days of screen bombshell Jayne Mansfield diminished in its second weekend expansion.

Let There Be Light (Atlas)

$(est.) 1,700,000 in 700 theaters (+327); PTA: $(est.) 2,429; Cumulative: $(est.) 4,092,000

The second week of this right-wing religious drama directed by and starring Kevin Sorbo made the Top Ten as it nearly doubled its theaters. The gross remained about the same, with the per theater average dropping by just under half.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) Week 7

$1,210,000 in 796 theaters (-248); Cumulative: $19,864,000

Focus’ Judi Dench starrer continues to add to its strong totals, showing the best results of any fall season awards contender so far.

"The Florida Project"

“The Florida Project”

A24

The Florida Project (A24) Week 5

$663,626 in 189 theaters (+44); Cumulative: $3,027,000

Sean Baker’s box-office breakout has now quadrupled the totals of his last film, “Tangerine.” “The Florida Project” expansion continues to gross about half the pace of A24’s “Moonlight” a year ago (which ended up with wider exposure than this is likely to get). But on its own terms “The Florida Project” continues as one of the top specialized releases so far this season.

Marshall (Open Road) Week 4

$503,570 in 504 theaters (-317); Cumulative: $7,824,000

Despite its low numbers (compared to its multi-hundred theater release and strong support), Open Road managed to keep this playing a fourth week to add to its total. Some good word of mouth is evident, though

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) Week 7

$590,195 in 205 theaters (+44); Cumulative: $3,033,000

The animated biopic sleeper continues to thrive with no end in sight with further limited expansion. This should easily pass $5 million, even more impressive as the breakout release from a new distributor.

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24) Week 3

$401,426 in 86 theaters (+53); Cumulative: $908,351

Yorgos Lanthimos’ second English language film (and European Film Award nominee) expanded again aggressively. Its respectable returns rank about half of the pace the director’s “The Lobster” saw last year.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight) Week 4

$353,000 in 262 theaters (+49); Cumulative: $1,159,000

How A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh isn’t attracting interest as the film continues to expand.

Wonderstruck (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$235,755 in 121 theaters (+79); Cumulative: $517,828

The disappointing performance for Todd Haynes’ latest release continues as the third week performance finds the film pulling interest far below what was anticipated.

Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight) Week 7

$185,000 in 158 theaters (-133); Cumulative: $12,317,000

Fox Searchlight’s second-biggest release of the year (behind more mainstream “Gifted” at $24 million) adds to its total as one of the bigger fall films.

“Jane”

Jane (Abramorama/National Geographic) Week 3

$229,646 in 55 theaters (+30); Cumulative: $517,658

Primatologist Jane Goodall is a star in her field, and now a draw with movie audiences as this documentary (featuring vintage footage takes during field work) continues to show strength beyond most similar releases at the moment.  Its continued strength as it expands suggests a potential substantially above its already strong take.

Wind River (Weinstein) Week 14

$51,086 in 105 theaters (+25); Cumulative: $33,695,000

What might be the final Weinstein release continues to add to its impressive total in its fourth month.

Also noted:

Faces Places (Cohen) – $47,886 in 28 theaters; Cumulative: $365,796

The Human Flow (Magnolia) – $34,500 in 33 theaters; Cumulative: $346,687

Stronger (Roadside Attractions) – $12,700 in 35 theaters; Cumulative: $4,170,000

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (Sony Pictures Classics) – $28,251 in 44 theaters; Cumulative: $735,569

Tom of Finland (Kino Lorber) – $ in theaters; Cumulative: $

Aida’s Secrets (Music Box) – $11,339 in 6 theaters; Cumulative: $57,550

Tragedy Girls (Gunpowder & Sky) – $10,062 in 22 theaters; Cumulative: $46,625

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (The Orchard) – $8,284 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $37,194