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Arthouse Audit: 'Marigold Hotel' Still Torrid Amid Weak Specialty Field

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 13, 2012 at 3:55PM

The strong expansion for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was marked by a dramatic jump from 27 to 178 theaters, with an estimated PSA (per screen average) of $13,000 or better (likely) for the weekend. Quick expansions for a film like this aren't typical, and the configuration here doesn't offer easy comparisons.
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Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The strong expansion for Fox Searchlight's British import "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was marked by a dramatic jump from 27 to 178 theaters, with an estimated PSA (per screen average) of $13,000 or better (likely) for the weekend. Quick expansions for a film like this aren't typical.

Compared to some recent high profile films, "Marigold"'s performance is less strong than the impressive "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" (both of which had had PSAs of over $18,000 when they first passed 100 screens - "Descendants" more than twice as many, "Paris" on somewhat fewer). On the other hand, the film is performing far better at this stage than "The Tree of Life."

"Marigold," because of its initial appeal primarily to older moviegoers, had not been expected to come close to either of the first those breakouts. But its total through this weekend - likely to to be over $3 million after 10 days - makes last week's estimate of an eventual $20 million look very doable, and a good deal beyond that is possible.

The numerous openings for the week included eight films that played at recent Cannes, Toronto and/or Sundance festivals. The lack of response to them (among early reported grosses) could make those looking to acquire acclaimed films on the Croisette starting this week recognize the ongoing trickiness of the market.

The film with by far the highest pedigree with festivals was Sony Picture Classics' "Where Do We Go Now." It grossed an estimated $15,000 in three terrific NY/LA theaters, for an unimpressive PSA of about $5,000.

"Where" premiered at Cannes (in Un Certain Regard), but wasn't picked up by SPC until after it won (in a major surprise) the People's Choice Award at Toronto. The previous three winners - "The King's Choice," "Precious" and "Slumdog Millionaire" were major hits, and previous less-well known choices such as "The Whale Rider" used the award to some degree of success. SPC also added Sundance and New Directors/New Films to its pre-release showings. And it was widely expected to make at least the list of nine for the foreign language Oscar (but fell short).

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents


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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.