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Arthouse Audit: Off To the Races With 'The Master' & 'Arbitrage'

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
September 16, 2012 4:08 PM
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Robot & Frank
"Ten Years" (Anchor Bay) - Metacritic score: 62; Festivals include: Toronto 2011; also available on Video on Demand

$23,300 in 3 theaters; PSA: $7,767

Channing Tatum has been on a roll this year with "21 Jump Street" and "Magic Mike" as an actor and more. This high school reunion film was actually made before either, premiering at Toronto a year ago, and is just now opening while also available on VOD. It had three strong NY/LA theaters, but this is likely its highwater mark.

What it means: Most of the remaining viewing will be at home.

Expanding/continuing

"Keep the Lights On" (Music Box) - Week 2

$32,000 in 5 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $6,400

Opening in the Bay area while keeping the same theater count, this fell 42% this weekend off its OK start. Once again, another NY or LA relationship story is finding resistance in specialized theaters, in this case despite excellent reviews. Although its gay storyline still limits its appeal, its core audience is not turning out in large numbers either.

What it means: Music Box did its work in getting this film attention and placed in appropriate theaters, but so far hasn't found the audience this deserves. It however is set to open in most major cities in key theaters in upcoming weeks.

"Hello, I Must Be Going" (Oscilloscope) - Week 2

$9,480 in 2 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $4,740; Cumulative: $41,000

Despite acclaim for Melanie Lynskey's performance, this Sundance-premiered somewhat older woman/younger man drama dropped an unhealthy 60% this weekend.

What it means: This will not go much beyond exclusive art house runs, and then likely not for any length of time.

"Detropia"  (Loki) - Week 2

$42,390 in 5 theaters (+4); PSA: $8,478; Cumulative: $68,000

This detailed studied of the decline of Detroit scored a decent expansion in its second week adding new cities.

What it means: In a time when most successful docs are personality-driven, this more serious film goes against the grain. These early numbers suggest there is at least a small audience interested in more socially-relevant subjects at the moment.

"For a Good Time Call" (Focus) - Week 3

$271,319 in 107 theaters (+45); PSA: $2,535; Cumulative: $818,000

It's hardly great news, but the PSA dropped a modest 1/3rd this weekend despite the theater count doubling. That said, this remains a disappointing result, with specialized audiences showing more resistance to female-centric raunchy comedies than mass audiences did with "Bridesmaids."

What it means: This looks likely to fall short of the total gross of the already disappointing "Ruby Sparks" and other similar post-"(500) Days of Summer" films.

"Sleepwalk With Me" (IFC) - Week 4; also available on Video on Demand

$416,500 in 119 theaters (+45); PSA: $3,500; Cumulative: $1,334,000

While "Arbitrage" breaks new ground for concurrent VOD releases, "Sleepwalk With Me" continues to grow as well. With a more than a third increase in theaters, the PSA actually increased this weekend, a very strong showing for any film, even more for one than can be seen elsewhere.

What it means: IFC's decision to make this quickly available to VOD will of course limit the theatrical take, but the synergy of their decision seems to be working out quite well.

"Samsara" (Oscilloscope) - Week 4

$241,205 in 62 theaters (+37); PSA: $3,891; Cumulative: $827,000

More than doubling theaters, the PSA fell a normal amount, but this is still showing some strength as it hits more cities.

What it means: The key to this film's future will be playing steadily and possibly developing cult-film interest like "Baraka" and similar photo-essay/spiritual films.

"Robot and Frank" (IDP) - Week 5

$428,450 in 209 theaters (+7); PSA: $2,050; Cumulative: $2,623,000

A small drop in the PSA after a large one the previous week, meaning this Frank Langella-starring drama has stabilized at this level of run and is positioned to add a substantial amount more to its gross.

What it means: At this point, this doesn't seem to warrant a much wider release and the expense that goes with that. But it should end up ahead of most other late summer specialized releases, and then go on to much more attention when it leaves theaters.

"Chicken With Plums" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 5

$24,100 in 17 theaters (+12); PSA: $1,418; Cumulative: $144,100

Receiving the normal thorough expansion SPC always provides its film, this French animated film still is struggling to find any sort of audience.

What it means: Despite this, expect it to keep showing up for several more weeks.

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 7

$155,666 in 152 theaters (-289); PSA: $1,024; Cumulative: $2,913,000

Losing 2/3s of its theaters led to the PSA going up somewhat, but this remains an underperforming film considering how wide it has played.

What it means: Just more evidence of the struggles rom/coms are having in the specialized market.

"Searching for Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 8

$113,000 in 34 theaters (+1); PSA: $3,324; Cumulative: $2,913,000

Still very limited, still with nearly the same PSA as this quitely is turning into one of the most successful documentaries of the year.

What it means: This might play all fall and could easily surpass $5 million.

"The Imposter" (Indomina) - Week 10

$58,237 in 30 theaters (+3); PSA: $1,941; Cumulative: $676,000

Though without ever having any one standout week as it has expanded, this doc keeps performing slowly but steadily with effective but low-key marketing.

What it means: This could see $1 million in gross yet.

"The Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 12

$256,000 in 212 theaters (-57); PSA: $1,208; Cumulative: $10,673,000

The length of this run, and the number of theaters still playing, is as impressive as its total gross so far.

What it means: While "The Master" scores as the new kid on the Oscar block, "Beasts" continued presence and longevity is key to making sure it is remember a few months from now.

"To Rome With Love" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 13

$78,250 in 85 theaters (-12); PSA: $921; Cumulative: $16,440,000

At the end of its run, but it managed to play all summer.

What it means: Though not anything close to "Midnight in Paris," this has done well enough to consider Allen still a major draw, particularly worldwide (it has done $54 million total so far).

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus) - Week 17

$196,000 in 157 theaters (-43); PSA: $1,248; Cumulative: $44,925,000

Speaking of Oscar contenders helping themselves by sticking around....

What it means: Painfully close to equalling "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," but still looking like it will fall just short.

"Intouchables" (Weinstein) - Week 17

$263,000 in 180 theaters (-14); PSA: $1,461; Cumulative: $11,950,000

What is left to say? The Weinstein Company (and Miramax before) has rarely been the tortoise in any race, but that has been their role here, to great success.

What it means: This was never going to repeat its international success in the US - the subtitles and familiar storyline restricted its appeal. But being the biggest subtitled film of the year and longer, even more so when not being review-driven, is a significant achievement on its own.

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