Foreign films and a doc scored well in the Specialty arena this weekend. That isn’t something I get to write very often but it’s a pleasure when it happens. China Lion‘s Breakup Buddies, Tribeca Film‘s music doc NAS: Time Is Illmatic and Bollywood heavyweight Bang Bang all pulled in solid numbers when they debuted this weekend among U.S. speciality films.
By contrast, the weekend’s most notable U.S. indie debut, Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children, took a dive in its first limited runs, while Radius-TWC’s music documentary Keep On Keepin’ On again lived up to its name, gathering momentum in its third week.
That so-so start came even though Paramount seemingly did everything right for Men, Women & Children after a premiere at Toronto. The company created a marketing campaign that targeted both social networking-savvy young audiences and the traditional movie-going crowd. The effort didn’t seem to fully take root when it came to the box office this weekend, however, as the film grossed $48K for a $2,800 per-theater average. The movie follows a group of high schoolers and their parents as they navigate life, love and relationships in the age of social media.
The latest film’s take is still better in a straight PTA comparison than Reitman’s last pic, Labor Day, which bowed with a $2K per-theater average. That end-of-January wide release came after an Oscar run for the film never quite materialized, despite seeming like an automatic move after he wrote and directed 2009’s Up In The Air, which nabbed six Oscar nominations. Labor Day went on to a $13.4 million domestic cume.
Reitman’s late-2011 title Young Adult had a robust open, launching in eight theaters ($38,783 average) before going wide, grossing more than $16.3 million. Up In The Air, starring George Clooney, easily fared best of the three, opening with 15 runs and gathering a $78,763 PTA before going wide. It eventually cumed more than $83.8 million domestically. For now, Up In the Air remains the sky-high box-office anomaly among Reitman’s recent films.
The Orchard opened doc Harmontown to solid numbers as well over the weekend, grossing a solid $23,500 from two runs in L.A. and Toronto for an $11,750 PTA. The feature, directed by Neil Berkeley, chronicles writer/performer/showrunner Dan Harmon‘s 2013 live tour, done between his stints running the quirky sitcom Community. Some shows of both engagements of the film featured Q&As and live recordings of Harmon’s eponymous podcast, including guest appearances by Kumail Nanjiani and Bobcat Goldthwaite.
The film is also available on demand, opening in the top 3 in documentary and top 20 among all comedies on iTunes Movies, according to The Orchard.
“We’re exceedingly pleased with the performance and reception of HARMONTOWN by its core community of fans and the broader audience who have sampled it,” said The Orchard’s SVP of Film & TV, Paul Davidson. “Neil Berkeley and Dan Harmon delivered a terrific film that, while focused on the cult of Harmon, really is a feel-good movie for anyone who has ever felt like an outcast, a nerd or just had one of those days.”
Harmontown and its subject come to the IFC Center in New York next week and will expand to the top 20 markets before the end of the month, including additional podcast events with Harmon and guests in Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Houston and Chicago.
Niche distributor China Lion had a solid bow with Breakup Buddies, starring Xu Zheng and Huang Bo (both previously starred in Lost In Thailand, which was a huge hit in China). The distributor said Breakup Buddies was its biggest one-day gross ever, $90K on Saturday, and should be the four-year-old company’s “biggest grossing title” ever.
The feature grossed $240K in 20 theaters for a $12K PTA. Not bad for a foreign-language film with limited marketing.
“We’re looking forward to a long run, which will exceed our last film, But Always, which is also still in theaters ($2K, 3 runs this weekend),” the distributor said in a statement. “We will be expanding to a handful of theaters next Friday.”
The weekend’s other big foreign-film debut, Fox International Productions’ Bang Bang, had the “largest opening of 2014” for a Bollywood title in North America, rolling out in 271 theaters, the distributor said. Coming after UTV’s Kick ($1.07M open in 180 theaters) and 2 States (also a $1.07M open in 135 theaters). Bang Bang banged up $1.215M for a $4,483 PTA. For more more detail, read my colleague Nancy Tartaglione’s profile of the film as part of her international box office roundup.
Tribeca Film opened its doc NAS: Time Is Illmatic in a pair of showings, grossing $44,842 for an $11,575 PTA. The Tribeca Film Festival’s ‘Tribeca All Access’ program helped back the movie’s debut, showing the title in a series of one-night screenings in more than two dozen cities Thursday. The film also is available on demand and through iTunes, and will expand to several other markets in coming weeks. One thing that may further boost attendance: the film’s star, pioneering rapper Nas, will tour with the film and perform after screenings throughout the month.
The $50 million Simón Bolívar biopic The Liberator, a South American production, was seemingly liberated from any audience interest after it bowed in 78 theaters for a paltry $65,743 gross and an $843 PTA.
Sundance Selects had a better opening with The Blue Room, grossing just over $22K in only three theaters for a $7,350 PTA. The film, which had its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival, comes from French actor/director Mathieu Amalric. It is having a traditional release, followed by VOD/digital.
Amalric, whose acting credits include Julian Schnabel‘s 2007 Cannes debut The Diving Bell And The Butterfly ($6M domestic gross). Also opening this weekend was Kino Lorber’s The Decent One, which grossed $6K in one location. Magnolia did not report numbers for The Hero Of Color City or its Director’s Cut of controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier’s sex-and-soliloquy fest Nymphomaniac.
RADiUS’ Keep On Keepin’ On appears to be finding its groove with audiences in its third frame. The documentary about jazz great Clark Terry and his relationship with a 23-year-old blind piano prodigy grossed $25,482 for a solid $12,741 PTA. Last week, Keepin’ On grossed just under $5,600 in one New York location after a slow opening in L.A. the week before.
“With a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, a beautiful New York Times review from AO Scott and an incredible grassroots campaign, Keep On Keepin’ On has delivered the country’s highest per-screen-average,” RADiUS execs said in a statement. “This is without a doubt the year’s most heartfelt film and we look forward to continuing our expansion.”
XLrator Media added 41 runs for Jimi: All Is By My Side, grossing $95,450 ($1,273 average). The title opened last week in 34 theaters grossing over $96K with a $2,829 average.
CBS Films’ Pride is holding solid in its second week. The film grossed almost $98K in 23 theaters for a $4,256 PTA. It opened in six locations last weekend grossing under $85K with a $14,132 average.
In other holdovers, Cohen Media Group’s My Old Lady is holding well in its fourth weekend. It added 8 runs in its one-month mark, grossing over $482K for a $1,833 average. It averaged $2,228 let week in 255 theaters.
And in its seventh weekend, Sony Classics’ Love Is Strange passed the $2 million mark. The film grossed over $120K in 134 locations this weekend.
Bang Bang (Fox International Productions) NEW [271 Theaters] Weekend $1,215,000, Average $4,483, Cume $1,385,525 (Thurs. open)
Breakup Buddies (China Lion) NEW [20 Theaters] Weekend $240K, Average $12K
The Decent One (Kino Lorber) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6K, Cume $9,418 (Wed. open)
The Blue Room (Sundance Selects) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $22,050, Average $7,350
The Liberator (Cohen Media Group) NEW [78 Theaters] Weekend $65,743, Average $843
Men, Women & Children (Paramount) NEW [17 Theaters] Weekend $48K, Average $2,800, Cume $61K
NAS: Time Is Illmatic (Tribeca Film) NEW [2 Theaters and multiple event screenings] Weekend $44,842, Average $11,575
Harmontown (The Orchard) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $23,500, Average $11,750
Jimi: All Is By My Side (XLRator Media) Week 2 [75 Theaters] Weekend $95,450, Average $1,273, Cume $236,980
Mas Negro Que La Noche (Lionsgate/Pantelion) Week 2 [178 Theaters] Weekend $127,500, Average $716, Cume $777,058
Pride (CBS Films) Week 2 [23 Theaters] Weekend $97,877, Average $4,256, Cume $210,815
The Little Bedroom (Cinema Libre Studios) Week 2 [3 Theater] Weekend $2,500, Average $833
HOLDOVERS /THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Art And Craft (Oscilloscope) Week 3 [8 Theaters] Weekend $22,500, Average $2,813, Cume $82,386
Hector And The Search For Happiness (Relativity) Week 3 [183 Theaters] Weekend $228K, Average $1,246, Cume $589,566
Keep On Keepin’ On (RADiUS) Week 3 [2 Theaters] Weekend $25,482, Average $12,741, Cume $50,189
Tracks (The Weinstein Company) Week 3 [67 Theaters] Weekend $93K, Average $1,388, Cume $229,169
Tusk (A24) Week 3 [86 Theaters] Weekend $78,767, Average $916, Cume $1,641,382
Atlas Shrugged (Atlas Distribution Company) Week 3, [13 Theaters ] Weekend $2,674, Average $206, Cume $851,690
The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [59 Theaters] Weekend $25,800, Average $437, Cume $510,434
The Drop (Fox Searchlight) Week 4 [429 Theaters] Weekend $260K, Average $606, Cume $10,384,241
My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group) Week 4 [263 Theaters] Weekend $482,174 Average $1,833, Cume $2,224,699
The Skeleton Twins (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) Week 4 [461 Theaters] Weekend $733,660, Average $1,591, Cume $3,532,768
But Always (China Lion) Week 5 [3 Theaters] Weekend $2K, Average $666, Cume $427K
Last Days In Vietnam (American Experience/PBS Films) Week 5 [19 Theaters] Weekend $49,450, Average $2,603, Cume $245,497
Cantinflas (Pantelion/Lionsgate) Week 6 [49 Theaters] Weekend $26,500, Average $541, Cume $6,320,593
The November Man (Relativity) Week 6 [94 Theaters] Weekend $32K, Average $340, Cume $24,923,625
Love Is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [134 Theaters] Weekend $120,542, Average $900, Cume $2,034,035
The One I Love (RADiUS-TWC) Week 7 [8 Theaters] Weekend $3,179, Average $895, Cume $508,441
The Trip To Italy (IFC Films) Week 8 [130 Theaters] Weekend $118,300, Average $910, Cume $2,673,578
A Most Wanted Man (Roadside Attractions) Week 11 [54 Theaters] Weekend $35,350, Average $654, Cume $17,131,854
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 13 [138 Theaters] Weekend $146,280, Average $1,060, Cume $23,400,558
Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC) Week 15 [11 Theaters] Weekend $2,135, Average $195, Cume $4,556,907