Frigid, snowy Northeast weather and commercial juggernaut Fifty Shades Of Grey didn’t completely undercut the specialty box office this weekend, as some newcomers grossed respectable numbers. The indie films brave enough to bow included vampire satire What We Do In The Shadows, debuting in two theaters for Unison Films in association with Paladin, and grabbing the best per-screen average for a debut so far in this young year.
Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (an Oscar nominee for his 2005 short film (Two Cars, One Night) spent a decade developing vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows, which grossed $3 million during runs in Australia and New Zealand before coming to Los Angeles and New York City this weekend.
The film, which also stars its writers-directors, grossed $65,830 for a robust $32,915 average.
“[The film] laid claim to the highest opening per screen average of 2015 thus far,” Paladin and Unison said in a release today. “Notably, this gross was achieved with the film playing on just a single screen at each theater, with nearly every show a sellout. Critical acclaim for this festival favorite matched audience demand, with the film registering a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where it is Certified Fresh.”
On this side of the Pacific it will expand to the top ten markets Feb. 20 and head to the top 25 cities in early March.
RADiUS’ stage musical adaptation The Last Five Years also had a solid opening weekend with a $15K PTA and a solid showing on-demand. RADiUS said the feature was number 8 on iTunes overall and the No. 1 indie film overall. Its soundtrack also had a good showing on iTunes, ranking in the top 25 this week and the top 15 post Grammys. Alone in being transparent about on-demand revenues, RADiUS said it will give numbers from the film’s release on that platform in coming weeks.
Also cutting a new path is David Cross, who opened his feature Hits with a very non-traditional template (or no template).
The Sundance ’14 title is self-distributed, and buoyed by a $100K-plus Kickstarter campaign. It played in 45 theaters on Feb. 12 in “pay-what-you-want” engagements that attracted more than 2,000 attendees. Collectively, they paid $10,156 in amounts that ranged from 25 cents to $40, according to Honora Productions, the company behind the movie.
“Some theaters reported donations as high as $40, while one collected a donation in the form of a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream coupon,” Honora said in a release. “The donations were all cash, collected in creative bins including a live fish bowl, a janitors bucket, and a prosthetic leg. The average donation was approximately $5.”
Hits is also the first feature to also be distributed through the BitTorrent Bundle service from the company behind film pirates’ favorite file-sharing tool. The Torrented version also had a “pay-what-you-want” model, previously used by musical artists such as Radiohead’s singer Thom Yorke. I have asked for numbers to be shared on the new distribution model.
In other openers, Israel’s Oscar entry Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem opened in two theaters, grossing 17K for a $13,500 PTA. The feature will expand to the top 50 markets through April in its traditional theatrical roll out.
And China Lion had its largest debut with Somewhere Only We Know, opening in 46 theaters. The feature grossed $335K, averaging $7,282.
“Valentine’s Day was our biggest grossing day, earning us $146,000 of that, which for this film, turned out to be China Lion’s biggest grossing day in our entire 4-plus year history,” said China Lion’s Robert Lundberg. “We could not be happier with the fact that we’ve got the holiday weekend in our favor, our first-language Chinese-speaking population showing up, that Valentine’s Day was and continues to be our historically most successful release weekend and that everyone in our core audience is gearing up for Chinese New Year on Thursday. All contributed to these great results, even in the face of competing directly with Fifty Shades Of Grey and Kingsman on multiple screens versus our one in many theaters.”
Numbers for Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, which is also getting an unusual release process, were not reported Sunday.
Shorts HD and Magnolia’s annual run of 2015 Oscar shorts expanded into its third weekend, adding 55 theaters. The collection grossed a combined $345K for a $1,725 PTA. Last week, the shorts grossed $460K, averaging $3,172. The titles cumed over $1M last week and its updated total is still pending.
Sony Classics added 367 theaters for Oscar nominee Julianne Moore’s Still Alice in the film’s fifth weekend. It grossed over $1.7M, averaging $3,414. The title grossed over $881K last week in 135 theaters ($6,529 PTA). Still Alice has cumed over $4.63M.
Among the Best Picture nominees, TWC’s The Imitation Game shed 412 theaters vs. last weekend grossing $3.545M in 1,551 theaters ($2,286 PTA, $79.677M cume). Searchlight’s Birdman grossed $870K in 481 theaters (666 last weekend), averaging $1,809 ($36.47M cume).
SPC’s Whiplash grossed over $570K in 515 theaters, 36 more than last week. It averaged $1,107 and has easily passed the $10M cume threshold. Focus’ The Theory Of Everything lost 136 locations in its 15th weekend. It grossed $796K in 466 theaters ($1,708 PTA, $33.23M cume).
Meanwhile, the longest running film in theaters still is another Best Picture nominee, Boyhood, which actually added two locations from the previous weekend. The Richard Linklater film grossed $42,750, averaging $750. It has cumed $25.2M.
Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem (Music Box Films) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $17K, Average $13,500
Hits (Honora Productions/) NEW [2 Theaters-standard pricing] Weekend $5K, Average $2,500
The Last Five Years (RADiUS) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $45,107, Average $15,036
What We Do In The Shadows (Paladin/Unison) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $65,830, Average $32,915
Somewhere Only We Know (China Lion) NEW [46 Theaters] Weekend $335K, Average $7,282
Ballet 422 (Magnolia Pictures) Week 2 [6 Theaters] Weekend $33K, Average $5,500 (Cume pending)
Running Man (China Lion) Week 2 [4 Theaters] Weekend $9,500, Average $2,375, Cume $305,247
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
2015 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia Pictures/Shorts HD) Week 3 [200 Theaters] Weekend $345K, Average $1,725 (Cume pending)
Timbuktu (Cohen Media Group) Week 3 [33 Theaters] Weekend $104,338, Average $3,162, Cume $283,071
Black Sea (Focus Features) Week 4 [92 Theaters] Weekend $32K, Average $348, Cume $1,147,167
Red Army (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4 [16 Theaters] Weekend $42,018, Average $2,626, Cume $188,340
Spare Parts (Lionsgate) Week 5 [54 Theaters] Weekend $61,500, Average $1,139, Cume $3,444,014
Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5 [502 Theaters] Weekend $1,713,580, Average $3,414, Cume $4,631,365
A Most Violent Year (A24) Week 7 [186 Theaters] Weekend $245,458, Average $1,319, Cume $5,276,362
Leviathan (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8 [29 Theaters] Weekend $63,680, Average $2,196, Cume $574,161
Two Days, One Night (IFC Films) Week 8 [116 Theaters] Weekend $142,100, Average $1,225, Cume $1,084,480
Mr. Turner (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [95 Theaters] Weekend $205,095, Average $2,159, Cume $2,714,938
Wild (Fox Searchlight) Week 11 [185 Theaters] Weekend $275K, Average $1,486, Cume $36,920,763
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) Week 12 [1,551 Theaters] Weekend $3,545,000, Average $2,286, Cume $79,677,423
Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 14 [98 Theaters] Weekend $88,787, Average $906, Cume $11,867,056
The Theory Of Everything (Focus Features) Week 15 [466 Theaters] Weekend $796K, Average $1,708, Cume $33,230,703
Citizenfour (RADiUS) Week 17 [40 Theaters] Weekend $31,138, Average $778, Cume $2,607,316
Birdman (Fox Searchlight) Week 18 [481 Theaters] Weekend $870K, Average $1,809, Cume $36,470,685
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 19 [515 Theaters] Weekend $570,230, Average $1,107, Cume $10,416,682
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 32 [57 Theaters] Weekend $42,750, Average $750, Cume $25,205,973