By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood July 23, 2012 at 10:39AM
With a solid opening weekend gross, Magnolia's "The Queen of Versailles" becomes yet another of the year's initially successful documentaries. The weekend's other new releases include an eclectic group of films and release patterns with varying-- but lesser-- results.
Going into the Olympics and their expected impact on moviegoing, several films continued their successful runs, although "Moonrise Kingdom" showed a noticeable falloff for the first time. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" expanded once again, and also came down to earth.
"The Queen of Versailles" (Magnolia) - Metacritic score: 77; Festivals include: Sundance 12, South by Southwest 12, Tribeca 12, Seattle 12, Los Angeles 12
$51,326 (3 day actual) in 3 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $17,109
Another personality-driven documentary joins the increasingly lengthy list of 2012 non-fiction films to score initial box office success. In this case, the multi-year saga of a super-rich Florida couple and their milieu comes with enough zeitgeist-related elements to make it appealingly timely. Playing at top NY/LA theaters, this was positioned to achieve maximum attention.
What it means: The film adds six more theaters next Friday, and should be a solid performer for the rest of the summer.
"Shut Up and Play the Hits" (Oscilloscope) - Metacritic score: 76; Festivals include: Sundance 12, South by Southwest 12, Sundance London 12, Sydney 12, Karoly Vary 12
$378,751 in 161 theaters; PSA: $2,353
Oscilloscope set up midweek one-night screenings across the country for this documentary of LCD Soundsystem's final concert (and retiring member James Murphy's musings before and after about his decision to go out on top), with some added Thursday shows, leading to a solid return before more engagements begin next Friday.
What it means: This went mainly unnoticed in mainstream media, but Oscilloscope's success shows the real value of this midweek release model for certain event movies, particularly concerts.
"The Well Digger's Daughter" (Kino Lorber) - Metacritic score: 63; Festivals include: Cinemania 11, Rendezvous With French Cinema 12, COLCOA 12, Seatlle 12
$10,273 (3 day actual) in 3 theaters; PSA: $3,424
Actor Daniel Auteiul's remake of Marcel Pagnol's classic opened in New York and Seattle to modest results after scoring mildly favorable reviews.
What it means: Kino Lorber already has this extensively booked across the country, primarily with one-week calendar bookings (primarily Landmark chain locations).
"Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" (Tribeca) - Metacritic score: 78; Festivals include: Cannes 11, Palo Alto 11, Pusan 11, Hong Kong 12; also available on Video on Demand
$10,920 (3 day actual) in 2 theaters; PSA: $5,460
Japanese cult director Tashiro Miike's most mainstream film (it played in competition at Cannes last year) got the best reviews of the week among new specialized openings, and playing on a tiny screen at NY's IFC Center did capacity business, along with a more modest gross in a downtown LA location.
What it means: Most of the viewing will be via cable, which omits the 3-D feature available in theaters.
Expanding and continuing
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 4
$763,443 (3 day actual) in 129 theaters (+48); PSA: $5,918; Cumulative: $2,855,142
Still fairly limited but growing steadily, "Beasts" had a PSA dip of almost 40%, which suggests that as well as it has done thus far, there are limits to its appeal. These are still impressive numbers for an unconventional/non-star cast, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this film's crossover potential is limited.
What it means: This still unlikely breakout has a chance of achieving an undreamed-of gross for most independently-made films, which is even more impressive with the film not driven by the awards cycle.
"Farewell, My Queen" (Cohen Media) - Week 2
$96,310 (3 day estimate) in 13 theaters (+9); PSA: $8,810; Cumulative: $201,410
What it means: Continuing its promising NY/LA opening weekend, new cities continued to show good grosses acoss a spectrum of mid-city and suburban locations.
"Trishna" (IFC) - Week 2; also available on video on demand
$40,000 (3 day estimate) in 16 theaters (+13); PSA: $2,500; Cumulative: $89,000
After decent NY/LA figures openings, the expansion this week was considerably softer.
What it means: Most of the near-term viewing for this will be on VOD.
"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus) - Week 9
$1,831,471 (3 day actual) in 895 theaters (-29); PSA: $2,046; Cumulative: $36,087,959
Despite losing only a handful of theaters, this took a surprisingly big drop this weekend after weeks of persistantly strong performance.
What it means: With the Olympics approaching and other competition in theaters, this might fall short of being the top specialized release of the year, but whatever happens, it still has been a major success.
"Take This Waltz" (Magnolia) - Week 4; also available on video on demand
$131,654 (3 day actual) in 69 theaters (+22); PSA: $1,908; Cumulative: $833,634
Continuing to expand while the parallel VOD showings add many more viewers, the grosses remain steady if not sensational among those theaters willing to play day and date with cable.
What it means: This is headed towards being one of the best-grossing films among VOD-concurrent releases this year.
"The Imposter" (Indomina) - Week 2
$10,202 (3 day actual) in 1 theater (unchanged); PSA: $12,246; Cumulative: $43,787
Though it took a drop, still a decent second-week performance at NY's Angelika for this Sundance doc.
What it means: Expansions in August should add to this early success.
"Easy Money" (Weinstein) - Week 2
$14,665 (3 day actual) in 2 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $7,333; Cumulative: $52,051
Decent results for this Swedish thriller, with more modest marketing than usual for Weinstein still getting attention for this.
What it means: A broader specialized-theater expansion follows in upcoming weeks, although again slower than the traditional Weinstein model.
"To Rome With Love" (Sony Classics) - Week 5
$1,420,891 (3 day actual) in 552 theaters (-192); PSA: $2,574; Cumulative: $11,107,993
Though this lost quite a few theaters, the PSA drop was modest for Woody Allen's latest.
What it means: This was never likely to come close to "Midnight in Paris," but it will also fall short of what both "Vicki Christina Barcelona" and "Match Point" amassed (both over $20 million).
"Intouchables" (Weinstein) - Week 9
$322,000 (3 day estimate) in 91 theaters (+8); PSA: $3,588; Cumulative: $7,081,155
A week in advance of its expansion, this continues the consistent decent performance seen for weeks. (Note: Weinstein is now including the French Canadian grosses - released earlier, and almost half of the total - in the cumulative figure, which is normal practice, but does elevate that number considerably).
What it means: The operation has been a success so far. Next week will show if the consistently good word of mouth translates to much wider success.
"Safety Not Guaranteed" (FilmDistrict) - Week 7
$157,160 (3 day actual) in 124 theaters (-58); PSA: $1,267; Cumulative: $2,940,689
Still adding gross late in its run, this Sundance success could still approach $4 million before it's through.
What it means: FilmDistrict has replanted its flag in the specialized world.
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) - Week 12
$416,791 (3 day actual) in 287 theaters (-55); PSA: $1,447; Cumulative: $43,852,771
This just keeps steadily adding gross week after week.
What it means: $50 million might be a bit too much to expect, but it's going to come close.
"Neil Young Journey's" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Week 4
$17,201 (3 day actual) in 11 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,564; Cumulative: $84,095
Minor numbers for Jonathan Demme's dance with Neil Young
What it means: SPC will get this shown in most major cities, but results continue to be modest.
"Bernie" (Millennium) - Week 13
$161,686 (3 day actual) in 104 theaters (+1); PSA: $1,555; Cumulative: $8.368.795
It just won't quit.
What it means: Next Friday there will be three Matthew McConaughey films in theaters.