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Arthouse Audit: 'Moonrise Kingdom' Conquers More Box Office; Specialized Success of The Year

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood June 3, 2012 at 2:55PM

The news this week is in the expanding films. Two huge hits-- a phenomenal second week for Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and more success for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"-- joined with two other decently grossing expansions-- "Intouchables" and "Bernie"-- to provide an even better early June than last year.
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What it means:  At this point, odds are against history coming anything close to repeating itself in the US (the rest of the world has grossed close to $350 million so far). But odds are also -- between the film's likely strong WOM (world of mouth) and continued Weinstein marketing wizardry and distribution strength -- that it will come close the highest-grossing subtitled film of the year. But whether it breaks out in with a wider audience a la "Marigold Hotel" or "Midnight" remains to be seen, although Weinstein certainly will give it every chance to bloom.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 5

$4,600,000 in 1,294 theaters (+61); PSA: $3,555 ; Cumulative: $25,497,000

The PSA cooled off a bit this (non-holiday) weekend with a minor uptick in theaters, but a modest 30% decline still gives Fox Searchlight reason to be happy. This already has crossed into significant specialized hit territory. Now the question is how close it can get to what "Midnight in Paris" achieved last year (another older-audience appeal breakout success). It already is playing in more theaters than "Paris" at its widest break (with a slightly lower PSA).

What it means:  Coming into summer play time--when megaplex screens are at a premium and with more competition for adult ticket buyers coming as newer films expand-- "Marigold" is already playing in most markets. Thus the film has earned a bit over a majority of its take. But this could also -- depending both how it expands its appeal as well as how much deeper into the market (including further advertising) Fox Searchlight decides to go -- still push past "Paris." Whatever happens, this is going to rank as one of the biggest non-awards boosted specialized releases of recent years, and a major addition to Fox Searchlight's sterling reputation as a niche distributor.

"Bernie" (Millenium) - Week 6

$937,000 in 302 theaters (+96); PSA: $3,103; Cumulative: $3,651,000

The PSA declined with the expansion to a now OK level as this comedy continues to slowly expand. As a film with  marketing support appropriate for its level of performance, it is performing well without yet coming having maximized its potential.

What it means:   This likely will further expand and keep in the public eye for weeks to come, with an elevated post-theater life ahead because of the significant attention it has gotten in upscale theaters.

"Hysteria" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 3

$190,000 in 65 theaters (+33 ); PSA: $2,922; Cumulative: $474,000

Doubling its theater count with a reasonable PSA decline of around a third, this continues to do well enough to justify holdovers in most locations and further playoff around the country. SPC has supported this with good-sized Friday newspaper ads pushing this as a comedy, buttressed with positive review quotes, which indicates faith in a potential further audience for this.

What it means:   Though not looking to perform at the level of some other currently expanding films, expect this to keep a presence over the next few weeks, with an eventual gross considerably above its present total.

"First Position" (IFC-Sundance Selects) - Week 5

$87,000 in 58 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,500; Cumulative: $693,000

The PSA fell 40% from its modest level, so it would appear this dance competition documentary has passed its best level.

What it means:  This still has done much better than expected, and IFC might yet get it above the $1 million mark, very solid for a niche documentary film.

"Where Do We Go Now" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 4

$81,125 in 37 theaters (+12 ); PSA: $2,193; Cumulative: $248,000

Continued modest grosses as SPC does its usual slower roll-out, making sure all key markets play this Lebanese film before it's through.

What it means:  Though disappointing, this still will amass more gross than most subtitled US releases, including many with better reviews.

"Polisse" (IFC-Sundance Selects) - Week 3 (also available on VOD)

$31,500 in 21 theaters (+7); PSA: $1,500; Cumulative: $134,000

Moving out further with mediocre results, this French multi-character police story is likely close to as deep in the market as it will get.

What it means:   Most viewing for this will be at home, where it can be seen already.

"Elena" (Zeitgeist) - Week 3

$11,000 in 6 theaters (+4); PSA: $1,800; Cumulative: $53,000

Though this Russian film has received just about the best reviews of any 2012 release, the grosses aren't reflecting this.

What it means:  Limited theatrical life ahead.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents, Fox Searchlight, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Co., Weinsteins


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.