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Weekend Indie Box Office: What It Means, from 'Bully' to 'Island President' UPDATED

Thompson on Hollywood By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood April 2, 2012 at 10:39PM

“Bully” led a slew of documentary openers this weekend (at least eight) both in terms of attention and success. The others, including two with significant previous acclaim, reveal the results of the new Oscar rule requiring full week theatrical dates in New York and/or Los Angeles with published reviews in their leading papers.
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“The Raid: Redemption” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 2
$284,000 in 46 theaters (+32); PSA: $6,174; Cumulative $596,000

Successfully expanding to several new markets, although (as is normal) a sharp fall in the PSA from its more stellar level last weekend, this continues to justify SPC’s aggressive push for this film beyond the core art market.

What it means: Expect to see a further widening quickly.

UPDATED: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (Magnolia) – Week 4
$194,000 in 44 theaters (+17); PSA: $4,399; Cumulative - $666,000

More signs that this documentary about a sushi chef has wide specialized appeal, despite limited advance festival exposure. The PSA is ahead of the decent one for “The Kid With a Bike” even with a greater theater count.

What it means: At some point this will reach the limit of its niche audience, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that this might approach an amazing $2 million gross or even more.

“Footnote” (Sony Pictures Classics); Week 4
$253,000 in 60 theaters (+37); PSA: $4,217; Cumulative: $618,000

Expanding well in quite a few new theaters, this continues to show a broad appeal within the niche art market. The PSA is better than “The Kid With a Bike” despite playing on more screens.

What it means: This still could be in the early stages of its grossing appeal as it develops more WOM (word of mouth) and plays in theaters yet to come that previously have responded well to the top Israeli films, while still showing appeal in other upscale art houses around the country.

“The Kid With a Bike” (IFC-Sundance Selects) – week 3
$148,000 in 37 theaters (+13); PSA: $4,000; Cumulative: $362,000

Further expansion resulted in only a minor reduction in the PSA, which is a positive sign. This indicates good WOM (word of mouth) in the subtitled/art market, which bodes well as it moves into more cities soon.

What it means: IFC’s bet that they could enhance its later VOD playoff with an initial more conventional review-oriented theatrical release seems to be working so far.

“The Deep Blue Sea” (Music Box) – Week 2
$168,000 in 49 theaters (+18); PSA: $3,426; Cumulative: $342,000

Continuing strong reviews in added cities Chicago and San Francisco aided this British drama (Metacritic score still at an impressive 83). The PSA is better than it looks at initial glance because of the wider than normal initial break diminishing the impact of decent grosses at its core art-house theaters, and in any event it didn’t fall much from its first week, which is an encouraging sign.

What it means: More cities open this Friday, which should add momentum, including keeping Rachel Weisz’ acclaimed performance at the center of attention.

“Salmon Fishing in Yemen” (CBS Films) – Week 4
$1,274,000 in 483 theaters (+359); PSA: $2,638; Cumulative: $3,171,000

The big jump in theaters took its toll on the PSA (down more than half to a not-great level), but the gross still is good enough for an impressive seventh place for the weekend. It did much better than “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” also widening this weekend.

What it means: CBS Films seems to be penetrating the marketplace with effectiveness at this point. Assuming they move to expand further and hold on to most of their existing theaters, their ultimate gross should at least double and possibly beyond by some distance.

“Boy” (Paladin) – week 5
$20,100 in 9 theaters (+2); PSA: $2234; Cumulative: $119,000

Adding two markets, the PSA stayed the same, which is encouraging, although still at a modest level.

What it means: The slow roll-out continues with five new markets this week.

“Undefeated” (The Weinstein Company) – Week 7
$32,000 in 16 theaters (-1); PSA: $2,000; Cumulative: $424,000

This is still playing very limited, but with some new theaters coming in, the PSA actually went up this weekend.

What it means: This will likely move around the country to new markets, but at this point any wide expansion seems unlikely.

UPDATED: “Friends With Kids” (Roadside Attractions) – Week 4
$459,000 in 308 theaters (-250); PSA: $1,491; Cumulative: $6,325,000

While losing another large number of theaters, the PSA went up slightly at least.

What it means: At the $7 million+ it will end up with, this has already passed “Winter’s Bone” among Roadside Attactions top grosser ever.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (Paramount – week 3
$675,000 in 513 theaters (+259); PSA: $1,316; Cumulative: $2,689,000

Playing at roughly the same number of theaters as “Salmon Fishing” (many of the same ones included) and doubling its total this week, it achieved only half the PSA. That pretty much tells the story.

What it means: It’s going to be difficult for Paramount to sustain most of these theaters for much longer at this level of gross, and it also could indicate little need for further expansion.

“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) – week 14


$241,000 in 199 theaters (-62); PSA: $1,211; Cumulative: $6,466,000

Continuing its gradual decline in the late stages of its release, the PSA stayed steady, indicating this has more yet to gross.

What it means: Already very impressive, this should end up somewhere around $7.5 million, which makes it the breakout subtitled film of the year so far.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” (Oscilloscope) - Week 12
$76,000 in 67 theaters (-13); PSA: $1,134; Cumulative: $1,471,000

Scaling back after a consistent if never great level, after nearly three months most of the likely theaters have been covered.

What it means: Oscilloscope has maximized this without ever overspending on marketing. Its visibility has been sufficient to get it further attention as it hits the non-theatrical venues soon.

“Musical Chairs” (Paladin) – Week 2
$12,235 in 12 theaters (+3); PSA: $1,020; Cumulative: $25,376

LA and Chicago were added this week, with no improvement to its initial performance.

What it means: This won’t find much more exhibitor interest down the line, but other markets still could add on.

“The Artist” (Weinstein) – week 19
$291,000 in 315 theaters (-261); PSA: $924; Cumulative: $43,558,000

Just about over, although as usual I’m impressed by how TWC keeps holding on to some theaters.

What it means: The final theatrical gross will end up just below $45 million, about $18 million less than “The Hunger Games” will gross in its second weekend to keep things in perspective.

“In Darkness" (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 9
$46,100 in 50 theaters (-1); PSA: $922; Cumulative: $864,000

Still getting played off utilizing a relatively small print total, this continues its steady but minor performance.

What it means: SPC still should get this over the $1 million mark, which would mean that all three of their subtitled Oscar nominees did so while in playoff, which is no small achievement.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Independents, The Weinstein Co., Weinsteins, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Pictures Classics


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