Arthouse Audit: 'Beasts,' 'Moonrise' and 'Rome' Provide Post-Holiday Fireworks

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
July 8, 2012 1:39 PM
2 Comments
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As most specialized distributors shunned new post-holiday openings, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" showed new strength in its second week, as several already successful films broadened well, led by "Moonrise Kingdom" and "To Rome With Love."

Opening

"Do-Deca-Pentathlon" (Red Flag) - Metacritic score: 61; Festivals include: South by Southwest 12, San Francisco 12; also available on VOD

$9,600 in 8 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $1,200

The hyper-active Duplass Brothers' latest film earned more media attention than ticket-buyer response in its multi-city openings.

What it means: The brothers' media-savvy audience is more aware of the film and will search it out in other venues.

"The Magic of Belle Isle" (Magnolia) - Metacritic score: 48; Festivals include: USA 12, Aruba 12, Catalina 12, Heartland 12; also available on Video on Demand (VOD)

$11,000 in 4 theaters; PSA: $2,750

Rob Reiner's older-audience drama starring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Masden did minor business in NY/LA; these openings came weeks after its first appearance on VOD.

What it means:  This will continue to be primarily a home-viewed film.

"China Heavyweight" (Zeitgeist) - Metacritic score: 80; Festivals include: Sundance 12, LA Asian-Pacific 12

$4,004 in 1 theater; PSA: $4,004

The best-reviewed new film of the week, this Sundance world documentary entry's gross was lightweight.

What it means: As usual Zeitgeist has booked the film in multiple venues around the country in upcoming weeks, including the all-important Los Angeles Oscar-qualifier later this month.

"The Pact" (IFC Midnight) - Metacritic score: 54; Festivals include: Sundance 12, Dallas 12; also available on Video on Demand (VOD)

$1,200 in 1 theater; PSA: $1,200

Playing at NY's IFC Center along with its VOD debut, this Sundance Midnight section premiere, a ghost story/murder mystery hybrid, scared up around 100 patrons this weekend.

What it means:   As intended, the action for this will be at home.

Ongoing/expanding

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 2

$375,587 in 19 theaters (+15); PSA: $19,768; Cumulative: $745,376

Expanding in NY/LA and to four additional cities (including in its home state Louisiana), "Beasts" continues to exhibit solid art-house strength. The grosses fall short of the highest end of recent performance ("Moonrise Kingdom" had a PSA of $54,000 in its second week at 16 theaters), but for a truly independently-made no-star unconventional film these remain impressive grosses.

What it means:   Though not likely to reach the ultimate levels of "Moonrise" or Searchlight's own "Best Exotic Marigold," "Beasts" looks like it will easily justify its acquisition with a decent theatrical total, and will remain in the spotlight throughout the rest of the year into awards season.

"To Rome With Love" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 3

$3,502,143 in 806 theaters (+777); PSA: $4,345; Cumulative: $5,261,353

The PSA is a surprisingly strong 2/3s or more of what "Midnight in Paris" achieved when it went similarly wide last year, impressive considering the less favorable reviews this received.

What it means:   Word-of-mouth clearly seems to be ahead of critical reaction for this so far. Whether this can sustain anything like the multi-month success of "Midnight" remains unlikely, but compared to both most recent Allen films and other adult-oriented, specialized films this is a clear success. 

 "Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus) - Week 7

$4,641,580 in 884 theaters (+40); PSA: $5,250; Cumulative: $26,892,860

With a small increase in theaters, the PSA was down a tiny 10%, a very impressive sign of strength and continued audience interest. This film still has a long way to go before it's through.

What it means:  Focus' slow roll-out continues to show dividends, and depending on how much risk they are willing to take with further advertising, this might approach or even pass $50 million.

"Take This Waltz"  (Magnolia) - Week 2; also available on VOD

$165,000 in 43 theaters (+13); PSA: $3,840; Cumulative: $412,000

With a mixture of US and Canadian theaters somewhat skewing the PSA, this well-received Michelle Williams drama expanded to new cities this weekend, with an OK but not great result.

What it means: This should still get maximum play among theaters willing to play with parallel home availability.

"Neil Young Journeys" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 2

$11,736 in 5 theaters (+2 ); PSA: $2,347; Cumulative: $34,144

As last weekend's opening figures suggested, limited interest for the latest concert film from the iconic Canadian performer.

What it means:  With Sony Classics involved, this still will receive considerable theatrical playoff in upcoming weeks.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" (FilmDistrict) - Week 5

$260,000 in 109 theaters (-55); PSA: $2,385; Cumulative: $2,177,060

Though the theater count fell, the PSA remained about even with last week, as this continues to be a better than expected indie success.

What it means:   Still headed for an impressive $3 million+ gross, which will lead to much higher DVD/cable viewing down the line.

"Intouchables" (Weinstein) - Week 7

$284,000 in 60 theaters (-8); PSA: $4,733; Cumulative: $3,107,092

Once again, the PSA holds steady (down only 9%) as the theater count remains low, showing that where it is playing for the most part word of mouth remains good and interest is being sustained.

What it means:  How this plays when the expected wider expansion comes remains to be seen, but the gross total for the relatively low advertising expense so far has been solid by normal subtitled film standards, even if it has fallen far below the performance in most of the rest of the world.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 10

$783,000 in 359 theaters (-40); PSA: $2,181; Cumulative: $42,033,782

Late in its run, this still is adding more gross to its impressive total. A $2,000+ PSA at this many theaters in month three of a release reaffirms the depth of interest among the older audience that has flocked to it.

What it means:  $50 million might be just out of reach, but could be enough to hold off the charging "Moonrise Kingdom" for top specialized grosser of the year so far (though it could be a tight contest).

"Your Sister's Sister" (IFC) - Week 4

$188,000 in 94 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,000; Cumulative: $1,029,000

Though the PSA isn't standout, it only fell a small 16% with the same theater total, which is encouraging as the gross passed the $1 million mark.

What it means:  This should continue to play for the rest of the month and possibly more.

"Bernie" (Millennium) - Week 11

$259,000 in 113 theaters (-53); PSA: $2,292; Cumulative: $7,779,000

It just keeps playing and playing, nearing the $8 million mark nearly three months into its run.

What it means: This still could be on screen when the DVD comes out next month.

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2 Comments

  • everybodyknowsmyname | July 8, 2012 9:07 PMReply

    I am perplexed by the Weinstein Company's refusal? to expand Intouchables. Never in the history of independent cinema has a movie had such per screen averages without an expanding over 100 screens. Usually, it should be in about 100 screens right now.
    It's not out on VOD, as well, is it?
    Is it lack of access to screens? I know these screens are booked months in advance. By all indication, the company picked up the rights last year before the movie opened in France. There was enough time to book the screens. Or did they think they didn't have a movie that would play so they just organized a few screens; now they are stuck still screens become available.
    Or do they have a policy of not expanding a film when the average falls below $5,000. But Obviously word of mouth is strong because for 4 weeks it has held its average despite losing screens. It sold out afternoon showtimes at the Laemmle in Pasadena. Both afternoon showtimes.
    I'm just a curious reader. You guys have the access. Find out from the Weinstein Co. what's going on. It's very strange. I have never seen this happen before. generally, you expand until the weekend box office falls below $2,000 psa. That's the rule of thumb, right.

  • Tom Brueggemann | July 8, 2012 11:34 PM

    I'm told be a Weinstein spokesman that the film will have a much wider expansion on July 27, which is a delay of two weeks from a previously announced date of July 13.
    It is speculation on my part, but my guess is that the delay comes from Weinstein both having faith in the film, but also wanting to not overspend on it by moving too quickly. Also - and again, this is in part a guess - they are waiting until the end of the month when, because of the Olympics opening then, there will be less competition for screens (although they are clearly capable of getting them at any point) and more importantly less competition for attention from older adult audiences (Moonrise Kingdom, To Rome With Love, Best Exotic being less of a factor then).
    As a long time inter-actor with the Weinsteins (going back to the late 1980s when they started), I am very impressed by the unusual patience their team has had to handling the film. It has overcome very mixed reviews, a somewhat familiar plot for US audiences (sort of a hybrid of Bucket List, Driving Miss Daisy and Father's Day) and a lot of competition to play steadily in more limited circumstances.
    I don't know if this will be quite what some might have suspected, but my guess is that they will maximize the grosses in a way that doesn't involve overspending. In other words, playing it smart, even if it means they don't push for a higher gross at the expense of less profit.

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