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'Middle Of Nowhere' Opens This Weekend; How Will It Do? Guess Its Total Box Office, Win A Prize

Features
by Tambay A. Obenson
October 8, 2012 3:07 PM
37 Comments
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Middle Of Nowhere Still - Ema, David

I can say with certainty that I don't know anyone personally, who hasn't heard of Ava DuVernay's upcoming new drama Middle Of Nowhere, which opens in limited release this Friday, en route to a gradual nationwide expansion after its premiere weekend.

The films marketing campaign (especially in the last 2 weeks) has been wide-reaching and dare I say, relentless, especially if you're online, and a member of any of the popular social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, culminating in a wonderful profile of Ms DuVernay in the New York Times late last week, as well as some Oscar consideration talk (Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress), thanks to a piece penned by Sasha Stone at AwardsDaily.com yesterday.

I haven't begun our Oscar coverage yet, but I'll look at the film's chances in coming weeks (along with other films and performances), after more of you have seen it, so we can discuss.

In the meantime however, given how strong the marketing campaign has been, and the fact that a lot of you are (or should be) aware of the film and its debut in theaters this weekend, and its cross-over potential (cross-over as in non-black audiences who are aware of the film, thanks in part to the mainstream recognition it's received, and who might think of it not solely as a film for black people), the question I have is, how well will that awareness translate to box office?

It goes without saying that we hope it does very well; however, I'll still say that I have absolutely no idea what to expect in terms of audience turnout and ticket sales. You'd think it a given, for reasons I've already stated, that sales will be brisk, but I honestly can't say with certainty. 

Her first film, I Will Follow, opened in 5 theaters, grossing over $56,000, with an $11,000 per screen average. But Middle Of Nowhere is not I Will Follow for a number of reasons - differences in budget, awards recognition, new theater location dates, the involvement of Participant Media in the film's release, versus AFFRM solo with I Will Follow last year, and overall awareness in terms of press and audience, are just a few to start. We could say that there's more at stake now than there was before.

All that to say, I don't know if I'd use I Will Follow as a gauge for how Middle Of Nowhere might do. I'd say that expectations are certainly higher. 

So while the film opens in just one more theater than I Will Follow did last year (6 versus 5), I'll look for per screen averages to be higher than last year's $11,000+ opening weekend. At least, that's what we hope to see.

I Will Follow ended up with a total gross north of $150,000, by the way.

It may not do Beasts Of The Southern Wild numbers (it averaged over $42,000 on its opening weekend on 4 screens) - although, if it does, or even surpasses it, that would obviously be a good thing; but we're talking about 2 different animals, and I won't go into differences between the two here. 

However, a per screen average anywhere close to $42,000 per screen, would be a big win! Beasts has grossed over $11 million thus far. 

The most recent example of a black indie by a black filmmaker that received this much and this kind of attention (press, awards potential, audience awareness, cross-over potential, etc) was Dee Rees' Pariah, which was released by Focus Features last December. That film opened on 4 screens, and grossed just over $12,000 average per screen, en route to a $769,000 total.

I'm sure AFFRM and Participant would like to see larger figures.

By Friday, the box office experts will print their projections for the weekend, so we'll know a bit more by then.

However, as is customary around here when a much-talked about black film is facing its first weekend in commercial release, we're giving you folks the opportunity to play the role of box office pro; but, this time, not to guess how well you think the film will do on opening weekend; rather, how well it'll do throughout the course of its domestic (USA) theatrical run

So, the challenge is: guess what Middle Of Nowhere's TOTAL theatrical box office will be. When it's completed its theatrical run, what do you think that cummulative figure will be?

Tougher, I know, but the reward is higher - instead of the usual $50 Amazon gift certificate. The winner will get a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Yes, there can only be 1 winner. 

You have until this Thursday, October 11th, at 11:59pm EST to post your guesses in the comment section below. Any guesses posted after that won't be accepted; you've got 4 days to do any further research you think you need to do, to come up with your answer.

You're encouraged to scan responses posted before yours (assuming there are any), to make sure that no one else before you has already come up with your guess. If two people guess the same figure, the person who posted their response first, will get the nod. The other person won't. 

And when the film completes its theatrical run in 3 to 4 months or so (or maybe longer), we'll revisit the contest and the guesses, and at that time, choose a winner - whomever guessed a figure closest to, but without going over, the actual number.

Got it? Good. Go!

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37 Comments

  • Jetta1 | November 29, 2012 7:25 PMReply

    I think it will be a awesome movie. I just need to know when will it be shown nationwide?

  • lauren | October 14, 2012 11:41 AMReply

    Hmmm... gotta say that weak poster is not going to help getting people into the theater neither are the promo clips I saw when the director was on Tavis. $253k

  • Liz | October 13, 2012 6:19 AMReply

    Hmmm, I LOVED I Will FOLLOW and really respect and admire Ava, and wish her all of the continued success in the world, but I'm a realist and agree with David and Adwar that this is a niche film, just like "Mooz-lum," and "Unconditional." And despite some really good publicity for this film, as Nadia notes, OUR community still doesn't come out and support these types of film -- even though they keep saying they want them -- in the same way that they support TP's dreck. ... And none of my friends -- outside of the film/entertainment community, who live in the middle of the country have heard of this movie, or the others I mentioned, either. But I'm trying to stay upbeat and positive, so I will say: $2 million.

  • Vio12 | October 12, 2012 11:56 PMReply

    $5.7 Million

  • ALM | October 11, 2012 9:27 PMReply

    $8.3 million

  • truthserum | October 11, 2012 8:19 PMReply

    1.6 million

  • Phil | October 11, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    Well this is going to be difficult because the wildcard is whether or not it receives any Oscar buzz. I'm going to say it will do Mooz-lum like numbers and I'll go with $450,000 in total receipts.

  • klw | October 10, 2012 6:27 PMReply

    3.5 million

  • alist | October 10, 2012 2:21 PMReply

    $7,000,000.00

  • JustinW | October 10, 2012 12:20 PMReply

    5 mil

  • New Things | October 10, 2012 2:09 AMReply

    270,000

  • David | October 9, 2012 11:41 PMReply

    Sorry to take the wind out of your sail, but no way does this film come close to the long term numbers of "Beasts" for a myriad reasons that needn't be rehashed here.

    I also think the publicity on this overplayed: if you are an indie filmmaker, film fest lover, or generally a maven of Sundance, yes, you've heard of this film. But on a broad critical mass spectrum? Nobody's heard of it.

    It's a niche release. It's gross likely in the $800k to $1.2 million range if it's lucky.

  • Adwar | October 10, 2012 1:52 AM

    Be that as it may Nadia, this movie remains in the circle of "niche" films. It's position is not helped by it's association with Ava's previous offering. Therefore people may be talking about it, but the optimum question is, what are they saying and will they pay to see it? I am optimistic yet I am leaning towards David's opinion. None of my friends have said one word about it.

  • Nadia | October 10, 2012 12:04 AM

    Clearly you haven't been paying attention David. Awareness of this film is much broader than just film fest lovers, indie filmmakers and Sundance. Just check social networking sites, at the volume of people who don't fit into any of those categories who are aware of the film. The filmmaker and film received a strong New York Times profile, Variety profile, she appeared twice on different CNN programs, Oprah Winfrey has seen the film and gave it a shout-out on her Facebook and Twitter pages to her millions and millions of followers and fans, saying how much she loved it, and that was re-shared, and re-tweeted by many of those fans and followers, Tavis Smiley dedicated his entire nationally-syndicated PBS show to the filmmaker and film, and the list goes on and on. It probably won't make Beast of the Southern Wild numbers, but nobody has said it would. However, to suggest that awareness of it is limited to small groups of film mavens is an argument I'd bet against every single time it's made. It'll do better than you expect.

  • Asantewa | October 9, 2012 3:46 PMReply

    $6,754,782.00

  • jb | October 9, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    $851,000

  • Tina | October 9, 2012 1:55 PMReply

    I'm thinkin around $1.7million

  • Stefanie | October 9, 2012 1:40 PMReply

    $560,000

  • A. Page | October 9, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    $210,000

  • JP | October 9, 2012 12:59 AMReply

    Imma say 2.71 mil.

  • Blackman | October 9, 2012 12:34 AMReply

    Is it me or do Africans consistently make SWEEPING generalizations that are fundamentally flawed?

    Dang. Nobody went to see this. I never heard of it. and I'm sure more than 75% of the black, brown and colored population on this planet heard of it too.

    reality is your friend.

  • Steve | October 8, 2012 11:23 PMReply

    2.1 million

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 8, 2012 10:45 PMReply

    $700,000 (Feels like I'm on "The Price is Right" lol)

  • rel | October 8, 2012 10:08 PMReply

    250k

  • ShebaBaby | October 8, 2012 9:53 PMReply

    $260,000

  • hmmm | October 8, 2012 9:47 PMReply

    4.5 Mil

  • Donella | October 8, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    $3,701,324.03

  • Shanea | October 8, 2012 6:59 PMReply

    3 mil.

  • Jasper | October 8, 2012 6:33 PMReply

    $180,000

  • Robert D | October 8, 2012 4:37 PMReply

    1.09 mil

  • Nadia | October 8, 2012 4:14 PMReply

    All you people low-balling it, I hope you're reading the post closely. I Will Follow grossed over $150,000 total box office. So you really think Middle Of Nowhere will do less than I Will Follow? Really? I'm going with $2.5 mill.

  • hmmmm | October 8, 2012 9:47 PM

    lol Agreed Ali

  • Ali | October 8, 2012 4:23 PM

    I swear they are predicting opening weekend numbers. lol

  • Orville | October 8, 2012 4:07 PMReply

    $100,000

  • Antoine | October 8, 2012 4:04 PMReply

    $76,199

  • Mak | October 8, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    107k

  • Anon | October 8, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    1.368mil.

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