‘Three Billboards’ Joins ‘Lady Bird’ as a Female-Centric Specialized Smash

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For the second straight weekend, a strongly reviewed new film with a central female character broke through the clutter of this mixed fall season to great success. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) joined “Lady Bird” (A24) as the best starts among the many top titles vying for attention, and both did so by a wide margin above other films. “Lady Bird” added other top cities and proved its first week was no fluke, showing results unequaled since “La La Land” last year.

The grosses in both cases are early results, but the films look in prime position for both greater success and maximum attention just as the awards jockeying is reaching high gear. And given that both are female-centered, and not historical figure-based like so many other titles, makes them even more vital at the moment.

Opening

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2017

$320,000 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $80,000

Fox Searchlight’s best platform opener since “Birdman” three years ago fell slightly below the even stronger performance of “Lady Bird” last weekend. Close in this case counts, as the initial gross for Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed comedy/drama about a woman seeking justice responded to very good reviews, including plenty of attention for Frances McDormand’s performance.

This initially appears to have much greater appeal than the British director’s earlier “In Bruges” (adjusted almost $10 million in 2008) or his wider released “Seven Psychopaths” (close to $17 million). The early numbers position it strongly going into the awards derby as Searchlight returns to form after a series of under performing films, with Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” still to come.

What comes next: 12 new theaters add this Friday, with a Thanksgiving run of over 400 theaters planned.

Joachim Trier thelma

Thelma

Thelma (The Orchard) Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Toronto 2017, New York 2017

$12,358 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,357

Eclectic Norwegian director Joachim Trier returned to his native country after testing American waters with “Louder Than Bombs.” That Jesse Eisenberg/Isabelle Huppert starring New York-set film also was released by The Orchard. While not helped by the unheard of running of a favorable New York Times review on Saturday, not Friday, “Thelma” grossed more than half as much as the earlier film, despite playing at only one rather than four theaters initially. It’s a decent initial response for a subtitled film these days, and helps its cause as its country’s Oscar submission.

What comes next: Los Angeles in next on Nov. 24

“Lady Bird”

A24

Week Two

Lady Bird (A24)

$1,249,000, in 37 theaters (+33); PTA: $33,766; Cumulative: $1,781,000

Greta Gerwig’s film started out as the strongest limited specialized opener of the year. Its second week big city expansion now is easily the top at this point since “La La Land” last year. The per theater average is substantially higher than other specialty hits this year: “The Big Sick” averaged $23,200 in almost double the number of theaters (bringing down the per theater take), while this is more than double what of “Wind River” in its second weekend at a similar theater count. It is 30 per cent or more ahead of what “Moonlight” and “Ex-Machina,” A24’s two biggest initially limited release titles, had done ten days into their releases.

With award citations beginning in its near future and a rapid expansion to initially go wide over Thanksgiving, this looks on track to be the distributor’s biggest success yet and potentially vie with “The Big Sick” ($42 million) as the top specialized film, at least among those released to this point.

Last Flag Flying (Lionsgate)

$172,000 in 32 theaters (+28); PTA: $5,375; Cumulative: $241,773

Veteran’s Day weekend saw a big city widening for Richard Linklater’s latest. Amazon Studio’s latest, about three vets reuniting when the son of one dies in Iraq, continues to struggle to find interest. In five fewer theater than “Lady Bird,” it did only about one sixth as much business per theater (which though is a better ratio than last week in four locations.) It remains possible that as this moves into mid-America its prospects could still improve, but it has a long way to go before it gains traction.

"LBJ"

“LBJ”

Castle Rock Entertainment

LBJ (Electric)

$(est.) 500,000 in 608 theaters (-51); PTA: $(est.) 833; Cumulative: $(est.) 2,076,000

Rob Reiner’s biopic about the 36th president dropped from its already weak start, with a third term out of reach.

My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise)

$190,000 in 45 theaters (+41); PTA: $4,222; Cumulative: $243,207

The interest shown last weekend in the initial dates for this graphic novel adaptation continues in its quick second week expansion. These again are quite credible grosses and suggest wider interest ahead.

1945 (Menemsha)

$20,920 in 2 theaters (no change); PTA: $10,460; Cumulative: $58,875

This Hungarian film about a Holocaust survivor’s return home continued its two initial Manhattan runs with a continued decent result.

Blade of the Immortal (Magnolia); also available on Video on Demand

$18,000 in 25 theaters (-6); PTA: $720; Cumulative: $98,581

Cult director Takashi Miike’s 100th film continues in select theaters while also streaming

Ongoing/expanding (Gross over $50,000)

Let There Be Light (Atlas) Week 3

$1,094,000 in 773 theaters (+131); Cumulative: $5,919,000

Kevin Sorbo’s latest faith-based polemic added more theaters but saw a 35 per cent drop. Its nearly $6 million gross though has been impressive.

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) Week 8

$675,000 in 637 theaters (-159); Cumulative: $21,537,000

The Judi Dench express continues with her latest still adding gross as it ends its second month in release.

The Florida Project (A24) Week 6

$579,370 in 229 theaters (+40); Cumulative: $3,839,000

Sean Baker’s acclaimed title continues to find interest as it slowly expands. It has continued to be on of the top fall performers, although not yet a crossover title in most situations. At this point, the somewhat similar “Beasts of the Southern Wild” had grossed an adjusted $6.7 million in a similar total theater count by its sixth weekend. But that film had its late summer play time see considerably less competition among adult fare.

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) Week 8

$515,140 in 212 theaters (+7); Cumulative: $3,934,000

This hybrid animated film is the most original biopic of the year, and its unique take on telling the story of the troubled Vincent Van Gogh keeps showing strength with only a small drop once again. This looks to have a shot at reaching $6 million or better.

"The Killing of a Sacred Deer"

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24) Week 4

$476,243 in 238 theaters (+152); Cumulative: $1,559,000

The third film in A24’s busy current slate, Yorgos Lanthimos’ typically offbeat European-set drama with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, isn’t showing interest at this point at quite the same level as their two other films in release. It has widened quickly and looks to have reached most of the theaters where it might find interest.

Marshall (Open Road) Week 5

$419,425 in 596 theaters (+82); Cumulative: $8,464,000

Open Road has been sticking with this biofilm of the early career of the Supreme Court Justice, and it seems to have been worth it. They increased the dates this week, with the result of a small 17 per cent drop in gross. They have maximized its potential even if the result has been less than they might have hoped for.

WonderStruck

“Wonderstruck”

Mary Cybulski

Wonderstruck (Roadside Attractions) Week 4

$245,220 in 261 theaters (+140); Cumulative: $825,262

Todd Hayne’s latest film, from Amazon Studios, had a substantial expansion with still the same minimal results seen in its initial weeks.

Jane (Abramorama) Week 4

$228,876 in 96 theaters (+41); Cumulative: $825,033

As in earlier weeks, this documentary about Jane Goodall and footage of her primates continues to find wider appear as it expands.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight) Week 5

$180,000 in 196 theaters (-66); Cumulative: $1,523,000

Another biopic — this time about how “Winnie the Pooh” came to be — has not attracted much of an audience, and is now losing theaters. It is likely to get to at best around $2 million.

The Square (Magnolia) Week 3

$156,156 in 50 theaters (+29); Cumulative: $447,239

This Swedish comedy and Cannes top prize winner continues to perform ahead of most subtitled films. It is expanding more quickly than most similar titles, and continues to get a respectable response as it reaches more cities.

Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight) Week 8

$95,000 in 103 theaters (-55); Cumulative: $12,480,000

The Emma Stone-Steve Carell retelling of the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match carries on a theaters still as it completes what was quite a wide run with a mixed result.

The Noviatiate (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$55,206 in 29 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $166,052

This 1960s American-set story of a nun in training isn’t getting much initial interest as it slowly expands to top cities.

Also noted

Faces Places (Cohen) – $32,207 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $424,414

Wind River (Weinstein) – $30,339 in 86 theaters; Cumulative: $33,752,000

Lucky (Magnolia) – $30,000 in 45 theaters; Cumulative: $887,323

The Human Flow (Magnolia) – $21,000 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $404,175

Breathe (Bleecker Street) – $17,059 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $454,343

Bill Nye: Science Guy (PBS) – $14,350 in 1 theater; Cumulative: $22,186

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (The Orchard) – $10,703 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $56,246

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (Sony Pictures Classics) – $9,295 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $755,541