Art houses got an infusion of fresh blood this weekend, as a wide range of films did business in limited release. Three new films directed by women showed interest, led by the strong showing of the documentary “Grace Jones: Bloodfight and Bami” (Kino Lorber), and two landed among the highest Metascores of the year: “The Rider” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Zama” (Strand.)
A wider release for bigger-budget and more mainstream “Beirut,” even with decent reviews, didn’t fare as well. And two high profile festival films, tennis biopic “Borg Vs. McEnroe” (A24) and Win Wenders’ “Submergence” (Goldwyn) joined the Sundance premiere “Come Sunday” (Netflix) for token theater dates while pulling eyeballs in home venues.
Among the established hits, “Isle of Dogs” (Fox Searchlight) reached its widest point yet, while “The Death of Stalin” is still adding gross in its later stages.
Grace Jones: Bloodfight and Bami (Kino Lorber)- Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Toronto 2017
$60,442 in 3 theaters; PTA: $20,147
Theatrical releases about well-known creative figures have often done better than expected business, but this sky-high result led the weekend’s limited openings. This documentary about the iconic performer delivered at New York locations that do not usually perform at this level (Lincoln Center, Metrograph, and BAM Rose). The numbers on Saturday showed a good increase from opening day, suggesting some depth to the interest beyond core fans.
What comes next: Los Angeles and Boston open this Friday, with grosses like these certain to attract significant further interest.
The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 92; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2017, Sundance 2018
$45,268 in 3 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,089
After scoring among the year’s best raves from a lineup of top festivals, Chloe Zhao’s second feature opened in three top New York/Los Angeles theaters to decent results. It’s not a conventional coastal city specialized film. Using non-actors, it recreates the life of a young rodeo rider after an accident changes his life goals.
With strong opening numbers, this could break out in the heartland. Saturday showed a healthy 43 per cent increase from Friday. SPC has a history of taking films like this and nurturing them to get maximum results. Consider this a work in progress.
What comes next: Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington begin the expansion this week.
Beirut (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance 2018
$1,656,000 in 755 theaters; PTA: $2,193; Cumulative: $2,028,000
This well-reviewed Middle East kidnap drama, which debuted at Sundance, has a strong pedigree: director Brad Anderson (“Transsiberian,” “The Machinist”), writer Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”) and star Jon Hamm. Bleecker Street set this for a Wednesday nationwide rather than limited release, in part to rouse word of mouth going into the weekend.
The result was mediocre, falling short of the Top Ten and positioning the film for unlikely further expansion. It could top out under $4 million. Jon Hamm continues to suffer the fate of many top television stars who find it tricky to establish themselves as movie leads.
What comes next: This should hold its dates for at least another week, but doesn’t look to have much heft beyond.
Zama (Strand) – Metacritic: 90; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2017
$23,788 in 2 theaters; PTA: $11,894
Argentine Lucretia Martel boasts credible openings for two of her earlier films (“The Holy Girl” and “The Headless Woman”), but those were a decade or more ago in better times for subtitled fare. Her most recent effort is set in colonial South America as a loyal Spanish official anxiously awaits a transfer from his remote post. Manohla Dargis’ prominent New York Times rave Friday helped launch this at two Manhattan theaters to more than respectable results for a high-end arthouse foreign language title these days.
What comes next: This will be shown nationwide in a combination of festival, repertory, and regular theatrical engagements. Los Angeles and other top markets see this on April 27.
Hitler’s Hollywood (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Telluride 2017
$10,177 in 1 theaters; PTA: $10,177; Cumulative: $10,177
This survey of studio escapist moviemaking in Nazi Germany opened at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday with a decent initial result. (The above estimate is for the five days, not the weekend.)
What comes next: Most cities are not yet set, with repertory houses the most likely venues.
Submergence (Goldwyn/Toronto 2017) – $(est.) 3,000 in 10 theaters
Borg Vs. McEnroe (A24/Toronto 2017) – $(est.) 48,000 in 44 theaters
Alison Cohen Rosa | Amazon Studios
You Were Never Really Here (Amazon)
$343,282 in 51 theaters (+48); PTA: $6,358; Cumulative: $511,115
Lynne Ramsey’s strong study of a troubled man who rescues girls from sex slavers (starring Joaquin Phoenix) had a reasonable quick expansion to major cities. This not easy-sell title is boosted by continued strong reviews. Further expansion will indicate how deep the interest is.
Lean on Pete (A24)
$79,021 in 18 theaters (+14); PTA: $4,390; Cumulative: $141,437
Acclaimed British director Andrew Haigh’s first American set film expanded to other top cities this weekend to more modest results than his recent “45 Years.” The story of a working-class teen finding purpose in life when he rescues a quarter horse continues to get strong reviews, which combined with A24’s support should guarantee a further expansion.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 4
$5,000,000 in 1,939 theaters (+1,345); Cumulative: $18,451,000
Only Wes Anderson’s earlier animated “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” has ever played as many theaters among his films. That grossed an adjusted $8.4 million in over 2,000 theaters playing Thanksgiving weekend (an elevated time for this kind of film). It also played earlier in its run, while “Isle” had already in staggered expansions already grossed over $13 million before this weekend. This looks to get to over $30 million, which would be about half of the take for his most recent success “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Death of Stalin (IFC) Week 6
$474,692 in 325 theaters (-223); Cumulative: $6,313,000
Kremlin intrigue decades ago continues to stand out above most other recent specialized releases. This has done most of its business, but its likely ultimate take of $8 million is more than credible for tough-sell political-historic satire.
Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions) Week 3
$309,740 in 277 theaters (+220); Cumulative: $590,939
This middle-age British romance moves to wider markets. The results are mediocre at best, with only a little more than a $1,000 average per theater gross.
The Leisure Seeker (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6
$276,289 in 276 theaters (-77); Cumulative: $2,350,000
Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland’s East Coast road trip continues to do some business with older audiences. It will only do a small fraction of the business as Mirren’s recent specialized breakouts “Eye in the Sky” and “Woman in Gold.”
Final Portrait (Sony Pictures Classics) – $38,808 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $200,265
Back to Burgundy (Music Box) – $21,690 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $135,263
Itzhak (Greenwich) – $ in 6 theaters; Cumulative: $