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

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
May 28, 2012 5:36 PM
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$11,500 in 2 theaters; PSA: $5,750

Like last week's "Elena," "Oslo" achieved the rare Cannes-Toronto-Sundance trifecta, as well as nearly as good reviews. The two-theater NY opening (IFC Center and upper East side) is at best modest considering the critical response.

What it means: Although the reviews were there, the subject matter -- a day in the life of a post-rehab drug addict  --seems to have lacked appeal. This was inspired by the same novel (about alcoholism) that Louis Malle adapted in "La Fou follet" in 1963 - which also failed to attact a wide audience despite being one of his best films.

"OC87" (Fisher Klingenstein) - Metacritic score: 65; Festivals include: San Francisco 10, Philadelphia 10

$7,500 in 1 theater; PSA: $7,500

This unique documentary made by a director (with the help of two other director friends) about his struggle with mental illness (including obsessive compulsions, the OC of the title) did better than usual for an unheralded film like this, aided by more than the normal advertising over the weekend which clearly (along with favorable reviews) brought attention to the film.

What it means:  A chance to get further playoff in other cities, which most very small films like this don't get.


"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 4

$6,350,000 in 1,233 theaters (+879); PSA: $5,150; Cumulative: $16,553,496

Here's how well this not surprising hit is doing - the PSA this weekend is ahead of what "Midnight in Paris" did when it expanded to over 1,000 theaters the first time (its fifth week), on its way to a $56 million total. That "Marigold" has found a large following--based on its cast, Searchlight's marketing, and hitting its underserved target audience -- was expected. But it now looks clearly to be headed to the high end of expectations. Based on these grosses, an eventual total somewhere between $30-50 million -- more likely closer to the higher end or even above -- is certain.

What it means:   Adding the grosses in the rest of the world (over $70 million), this will boost any producer looking to put together a high-end well-cast story aimed at older audiences, even if it is still tricky to reach that age group.

"Bernie" (Millenium) - Week 5

$870,000 in 194 theaters (+99); PSA: $4,485; Cumulative: $2,222,000

Doubling the theater count, with a decent if not great PSA at this level, "Bernie" continues to quietly amass a solid total as it slowly rolls out, counting on WOM to do most of the work for it. It's succeeded so far.

What it means:  It's unclear how wide this will expand, but this film still likely has much of its business ahead of it. And with Matthew McConaughey coming off of two films in the Cannes competition, he's becoming the acting story of the year.

"Hysteria" (Sony Classics) - Week 2

$145,715 in 32 theaters (+27); PSA: $4,554 ; Cumulative: $201,521

Quickly expanding to new theaters in its second week, this achieved a modest gross at best, as mixed or lesser reviews continue to not help its chances. (US theaters did slightly better than Canadian, unusual for an England-set period film.)

What it means:   Enough interest here to justify an ongoing expansion, but this won't likely have a long life.

"Polisse" (IFC-Sundance Selects) - Week 2; also available on VOD (video on demand)

$47,600 in 14 theaters (+11); PSA: $3,400; Cumulative: $75,600

Adding a few cities as it becomes available at home on cable, this is showing mediocre theatrical numbers despite some solid reviews.

What it means:   Limited future theater playdates ahead.

"First Position" (IFC-Sundance Selects) - Week 4

$140,000 in 56 theaters (+15); PSA: $2,500; Cumulative: $483,000

The PSA impressively is steady despite an increase in runs, as this dance competition documentary continues to perform at modest but adequate numbers.

What it means:  This has a real shot at hitting $1 million.

"Elena" (Zeitgeist) - Week 2

$12,000 (estimated) in 2 theaters (+1); PSA:; Cumulative: $31,000

LA opened a one-week run to go with the Film Forum in NY. These are passable grosses for a Russian film without a lot of marketing, but considering it stands as the best reviewed 2012 release (per Metacritic score), it deserves more.

What it means:   Expect this to have at least limited theatrical exposure in most major cities as exhibitors reach out to show this whatever their expectations.

"Where Do We Go Now" (Sony Classics) - Week 3

$62,925 in 25 theaters (+13); PSA: $2,517; Cumulative: $126,192

Mediocre numbers continue for this Lebanese film, still not showing the appeal that made it the People's Choice winner last September in Toronto.

What it means:   This will fall far short of SPC's recent other foreign language hits, led by "A Separation" and "Footnote," despite its initial suggestion of strong audience appeal.

"Darling Companion" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 6

$68,967 in 61 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,131; Cumulative: $503,933

Nearing the end of the road, though SPC as always will maximize this as well as anyone.

What it means:  The target older audience is going, big-time, to a different film.

"Bully" (Weinstein) - Week 9

$41,000 in 104 theaters (-100); PSA: $394; Cumulative: $3,295,000

Finishing out its run, the first phase of this film's life - the non-theatrical exposure yet to come will keep this going for some time - has taken in more than most documentaries do, although not quite equal to all the attention it got.

What it means:  That attention will pay off down the line, including possible elevated awards attention months from now.


  • Joe Beatty | May 27, 2012 9:38 PMReply

    Very fine article and comments.

    I agree with Tom and Logan about "Moonrise Kingdom." In this era of social media, why not take advantage of the publicity surrounding Cannes and release the film in its wake. Why wait several months? You can maybe argue to wait for the fall so as to better position for Oscar nominations, but that's a gamble.

    As for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," here’s hoping that it will definitely assist filmmakers trying to put together films with a strong cast and story aimed at older audiences. It is the type of film that probably is less likely to win awards at festivals like Cannes, so it didn't necessarily need to spend the money to be entered in them.

  • Logan | May 27, 2012 8:10 PMReply

    Joe, compared to the other Anderson films:

    The Fantastic Mr. Fox, opened in four theaters, PSA was $66,475
    The Darjeeling Limited, opened in two theaters, PSA was $67,469
    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, opened in two theaters, PSA was $56,542
    The Royal Tenenbaums, opened in five theaters, PSA was $55,396
    Rushmore, opened in two theaters, PSA was $21,833

    Clearly, Moonrise Kingdom is a ginormous (early) success. Yes, Anderson's status has grown, but there's no doubt that the model discussed is quite successful and something other strategists will look at.

  • Joe | May 27, 2012 7:35 PMReply

    Re: Moonrise Kingdom - Festivals had nothing to do with it. It's a highly anticipated movie, with some big names, from a consistent writer/director who has a strong following. It was only in 4 theaters - OF COURSE it was going to have a huge PSA. If it opened wide, it would've done better than Battleship.

  • Tom Brueggemann | May 27, 2012 8:12 PM

    Thx for the comment Joe.
    Anderson clearly has a fan base and reputation to work off of. But his previous six films also opened in between 2-5 theaters, and had a PSA for their weekends of between $44-67,000. Ticket price increases reduce the gap a little, but MK is blowing those away with ease. Woody Allen hadn't had a big opening in years, but coming right after Mid in P's Cannes premiere and all the similar attention, it opened quite big. Tree of Life was also quite big. It's an opinion, but I strongly feel that the attention all three of these films got and Cannes followed by immediately opening in NY and LA benefitted them all substantially. The media attention all of them got was much greater than had they not shown, and granted the films a greater immediate importance.
    I also question whether a wide opening for MK would have made any sense ever if we're just talking about what it could have grossed - it's still a niche picture without immediate appeal to the under-25 year olds who usually support movies. And doing so would have cost Focus many millions of dollars to advertise, which would have made no economic sense at all.

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