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Arthouse Audit: 'Like Father Like Son' Has Modest Start As Oscar Holdovers Dominate Indie Box Office

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 19, 2014 at 3:24PM

Though the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend is usually targeted by studios for new releases, the specialized arena tends to steer clear. That's because so many late-year releases still demand attention, and the date conflicts with distributors' main mid-January priority, Sundance (few major indie films open against Sundance, Cannes or Toronto). This year is no different in terms of top films, with only IFC's "Like Father Like Son" positioned to have a chance at much business.
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'Like Father, Like Son' director Hirokazu Kore-Eda
'Like Father, Like Son' director Hirokazu Kore-Eda

What comes next: This has little immediate competition in upcoming weeks among new specialized films, so it will have a chance still to attract attention from core audiences hungry for an appealing and acclaimed new film.

Ongoing/expanding

Nearly all the action comes from pre-New Years' films already in the market, in most cases playing multi-hundred breaks. Of last week's two reporting openers, only "In Bloom" from newcomer Big World Pictures announced grosses (a weak $4,600 in the same two New York theaters). Sony Classics Pictures two end-of-year films are also expanding, one which was a nominee (for Costume Design), "The Invisible Woman," which expanded to 26 theaters (+17) for $100,000 (PSA: $3,846, total $293,000). Their "The Past" is similarly expanding, now at 30 (+13) for $110,000, PSA $3,667, total $389,000.  Both are modest results for this level of the theater play.

A large number of Oscar hopefuls, some with better results than others, had multi-hundred theater bookings this weekend, most of which based on results won't be sustained for much longer. Among those that started as limited releases and have shown their biggest strength at core specialized theaters, the top grosser was "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight), which took in $1,515,000 in 761 theaters (+647), PSA $1,991, total $40,619,000 after a previously successful mid-wide release before the holidays. "Philomena," (Weinstein) which has been riding high for a number of weeks, actually lost theaters (505, -102) but with the help of its nominations fell only 6% to gross $1,307,000, now up to $24 million. CBS Films' Oscar disappointment "Inside Llewyn Davis" actually still showed some modest life with $1,105,000 in 585 theaters (-144) to reach $11,143,000. "Nebraska" (Paramount) has yet to respond to the level its ongoing  acclaim might have suggested, but showed signs of life as it grossed $940,000 in 408 theaters (-113), which despite the theater loss actually went up 6%, now up to $9.7 million. "Dallas Buyers Club" (Focus) had a big jump in theaters (419, + 294, though it has previously been wider, with an additional $917,000 bringing its total so far to just under $17.8 million.

Three other nominees had some play, led by the steady "The Great Beauty" (Janus), a Foreign Language frontrunner, and the only one with a presence in the market at the moment (two others have opened earlier, and two have yet to premiere), The Italian film took in another $130,000 in 54 (+16), now at $1,263,000. This doesn't compare to the parallel performance of the last two winners ("Amour" and "A Separation"), but this has been achieved with much smaller advertising and against particularly strong competition for adult audiences. It looks like it might approach $2 million before the Oscars, with a potential for more if it wins. "Blue Jasmine" (Sony Classics), out on DVD on Tuesday, had a scattered play in 28 theaters with $50,300, topping off at $33,150,000 for its very successful run. Doc feature nominee "The Square" (also on Netflix) came back to 7 theaters for $35,600 for an impressive $5,086 PSA.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Arthouse Audit


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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.