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Arthouse Audit: Massive Opening for "Moonrise Kingdom" Shows that Festivals Matter (UPDATED 4 DAY FIGURES)

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 28, 2012 at 5:36PM

"Moonrise Kingdom" opened with some of the best platform grosses ever, even adjusting for inflation, but it isn't the only good news out there. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" had a terrific expansion, while the massive international hit "Intouchables" had a lesser, if still encouraging, NY/LA opening.
'Moonrise Kingdom"
'Moonrise Kingdom"

"Moonrise Kingdom" opened with some of the best platform grosses ever, even adjusting for inflation, but it isn't the only good news out there. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" had a terrific expansion, while the massive international hit "Intouchables" had a lesser, if still encouraging, NY/LA opening. After a disappointing few weeks, it looks like the early summer will be solid in the specialized world - with the new Woody Allen film still to come.


"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus) - Metacritic score: 82; Film festival - Cannes 12

$669,000 in 4 theaters; Per screen average (PSA): $167,250

The new specialty model: premiering at Cannes and opening in NY/LA right away has become a winner. Last year, both "Midnight in Paris" and "The Tree of Life" parlayed their showings into big opening grosses. Now Wes Anderson's new film, this year's opening night, has produced even bigger numbers. Not only that -- it ranks as one of the biggest limited PSA's ever -- slightly ahead of "Dreamgirls" (with somewhat lower ticket prices), "Brokeback Mountain," "The King's Speech" and last year's two Cannes successes. In other words, massive.

Though reviews were excellent, a response like this exceeds expectations. Chalk it up to a potent combo: Anderson's reputation plus the cast's appeal and Focus's effective marketing of a mutli-generational entertaining light-hearted comedy.  The film could prove to be a strong cross-over draw in a market without many other films for sophisticated audiences.

What it means: It's early, and Focus has other major films ahead. But if this expands with anything close to the draw these numbers show, this could end up as an awards contender. It also suggests that Thierry Fremaux and his Cannes selection committee are going to have an easier time getting American films to risk the tricky spotlight and expense of opening the festival. Also, next time someone mentions a $20,000 NY/LA opening PSA as "strong," this shows what big really is.

"Intouchables" (Weinstein) - Metacritic score: 57; Film festivals include - San Sebastian 11, Rendezvous With French Cinema 12, COLCOA 12, Phx 12, SF 12

$137,400,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $34,350

No foreign non-English language film has ever been such an international hit (at least without adjusting for inflation) than this massive French comedy, which has already grossed over $330 million across Europe and other continents. Athough it's a wide opener elsewhere, in the U.S. it's a platform/limited release. The results in context are positive. Without the help of established names among the actors/co-directors, and not having the review support normally needed to boost a subtitled film, the Weinstein Company's confidence in the film's appeal (shown by the response in several pre-release showings at French-friendly venues) could still turn out to be correct. Saturday showed a solid uptick from Friday, indicating positive WOM (word of mouth), and the three-day PSA actually is more than 25% better than that the opening for "A Separation," which ended up grossing over $7 million. So all things considered, an overall solid opening.

What it means:   This could still play as it widens out -- the audience response will likely be better than the reviews. There is precedent for subtitled films overcoming less-than-spectacular NY/LA openings to become big hits ("My Life As a Dog" famously struggled after its initial dates). "Intouchables" also has the benefit of a committed and muscular distributor with faith in the film. Although it is unlikely to have remotely the same success in the US as elsewhere, this still has a real chance to improve. The big hurdle was the opening weekend, and so far, it appears things are on the right track.

"Oslo, August 31st" (Strand) - Metacritic score: 82; Festivals include Cannes 11, Toronto 11, Sundance 12, NDNF 12, SF 12

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Weinstein Co., Weinsteins, Moonrise Kingdom, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Focus Features, Universal/Focus Features

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.