Magnolia Pictures’ Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro packed in audiences over the weekend, putting it on track to be one of the year’s highest-grossing non-fiction films. Magnolia bowed the Toronto premiere directed by Raoul Peck in 43 theaters, grossing $709K. Paladin’s Chapter & Verse, however, technically scored the weekend’s best per theater average, opening in a single location taking in $32K. The weekend’s widest opener in limited release, The Comedian starring Robert De Niro and Leslie Mann chuckled with over $1.1M. Abramorama’s documentary Mr. Gaga, meanwhile, danced out the gate with a $24K gross in two theaters, and Good Deed Entertainment’s Growing Up Smith saw nearly $19K in five locations. Cohen Media Group added over three dozen runs for its Best Foreign Language nominee The Salesman holding strong with a nearly $237K gross in its second frame. The Weinstein Company added 830 runs vs. last weekend for Lion, which is up for six Academy Awards, taking in just over $4M. Bleecker Street’s Paterson and Sony Pictures Classics’ Julieta crossed box office thresholds this weekend, while A24’s Moonlight is closing in on $20M.
I Am Not Your Negro, with narration by Samuel L. Jackson, tells the story of race in modern America through James Baldwin’s unfinished novel Remember This House. Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated doc launched in 43 locations in 18 markets this weekend, a big number that acknowledges the appeal of the film, which grossed $709K, averaging $16,500.
Magnolia said it added showtimes “to accommodate the rush of patrons.” The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Film Forum in New York are both on target to break their historical house records for an opening weekend gross, according to the distributor, with both theaters selling out every show Friday and Saturday and into Sunday. AMC’s Magic Johnson theater in Harlem grossed $42K.
“Our audiences around the country are diverse, enthusiastic and engaged,” Magnolia said Sunday when reporting numbers. “Standing ovations have been followed by impromptu discussion in theater lobbies. It’s a film that creates conversation and it’s incredibly gratifying to see people reacting to it so strongly.”
Direct comparisons to recent popular documentaries are a bit dicey given their roll-out patterns. Last year’s highest grossing non-fiction title, Hillary’s America from Quality Flix, opened in just three theaters in mid-July grossing $74,814 in just three theaters, averaging nearly $25K. The feature went on to cume over $13M. In 2015, A24’s Oscar-winning documentary Amy placed second behind Buena Vista’s Monkey Kingdom for highest-grossing non-fiction title of the year. Amy opened in just six locations in July of that year, taking in $222,500, averaging just over $37K. Amy went on to cume over $8.41M.
Magnolia said Sunday the company will expand I Am Not Your Negro aggressively in the next two weeks.
Paladin opened Jamal Joseph’s drama Chapter & Verse with an exclusive engagement at Harlem’s Mist Theater Friday. The title had a robust showing, grossing $32,713, technically giving it the highest per theater average of the weekend among all releases. Paladin said the title had several sold-out shows Friday and Saturday, “bolstered by in-person appearances by Joseph and star Daniel Beaty. The feature is the maiden project for The Harlem Film Company, formed by Joseph — an author, film professor, and former Black Panther — who produced with partner Cheryl Hill, along with veteran producer Jonathan Sanger (The Producers). Next week, Chapter & Verse will add another Manhattan run at the AMC Empire 25 and will expand to Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles with further roll outs planned throughout the rest of this month and into March.
Sony Pictures Classics’ AFI Fest and Palm Springs International Film Festival premiere The Comedian with Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito and Edie Falco opened in 848 locations, by far the widest debut among the weekend’s titles still considered to be in limited release. Directed by Taylor Hackford, The Comedian grossed $1.1M, averaging a slow $1,306. Combined with its qualifying run, The Comedian has cumed $1,121,567.
Abramorama’s doc Mr. Gaga, which spotlights renowned choreographer and Batsheva Dance Company artistic director Ohad Naharin had a solid start in two locations. Mr. Gaga, directed by Tomer Heymann, grossed $25K, averaging $12K. The feature opened Wednesday, giving it a combined cume of nearly $34K. Next week, Mr. Gaga will head to L.A. followed by runs in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, south Florida and Philadelphia with additional locations rolling out into March and April.
Good Deed Entertainment’s Growing Up Smith opened in five theaters Friday. The film grossed $19K Friday to Sunday, averaging $3,789. The distributor is expecting audience enthusiasm to carry the title as it heads into further markets in the coming weeks. Growing Up Smith will head to 10 additional locations next week before further expansion set for February 17.
Also in debut were Cinema Libre’s Worlds Apart, which grossed $6,700 from a single run, while Janus Films’ The Lure also played an exclusive engagement, taking in $6,500 ($9,806 cume including its Wednesday open). The Lure will head to major markets including Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Miami and more in the coming weeks.
Pantelion/Lionsgate’s Mexican feature Un Padre No Tan Padre remained in 312 locations in its second weekend. Starring Héctor Bonilla, the title grossed $435K, averaging $1,394, down about 58% from last week’s average of $3,285 from a gross of over $1.02M. The film’s cume is now over $1.63M.
Amazing Studios/Cohen Media Group added 43 runs for its Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominee The Salesman by Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. The film grossed $236K, averaging $5,149. Last weekend, the film grossed just over $71K in three locations averaging $23,690. It has cumed $346K.
The Weinstein Company took its title Lion into an additional 830 locations in its 11th weekend, riding momentum from its six Oscar nominations. The title grossed just over $4M from 1,405 runs, averaging $2,851. Last weekend, Lion grossed over $2.38M in 575 theaters, averaging $4,144. Lion’s cume is now over $24.71M.
Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street’s Paterson by Jim Jarmusch sailed across $1M in its sixth frame. The film grossed $179K, averaging a solid $3,097, giving it a final cume of $1M.
In its seventh weekend, Sony Classics’ Julieta by Pedro Almódovar — who will lead the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival — also pushed over $1M. Julieta grossed $127K in 58 locations, averaging $2,202 giving it a final cume of $1M.
SPC added six runs for its Oscar-nominated animated feature The Red Turtle in week three, grossing $75K in 21 locations, averaging $3,588. The title grossed $65K last weekend in 15 theaters, averaging $4,397. It has cumed $235K. Sony Classics’ Best Foreign Language nominee Toni Erdmann played an additional four locations over the previous week. Toni Erdmann grossed $103K, averaging $4,304. The German feature grossed $102K last weekend in 20 locations, averaging $5,115. Toni Erdmann has cumed $528K.
Sony Classics’ Elle by Paul Verhoeven, which has a nomination for Best Actress for Isabelle Huppert, is edging closer to $2M. The film grossed $95K in 104 locations, averaging $914. And the company’s doc The Eagle Huntress is close to $3M. The Eagle Huntress grossed $40K in 48 locations over the weekend, averaging $843.
And with eight nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Barry Jenkins, A24’s Moonlight will cross $20M in the coming week. In its fourth month of release, the title grossed $1.2M Friday to Sunday, averaging $1,466, giving it a final estimated cume Sunday of $19.6M.
Chapter & Verse (Paladin) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $32,713
The Comedian (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [848 Theaters] Weekend $1,107,710, Average $1,306, Cume $1,121,567 (includes qualifying run)
Growing Up Smith (Good Deed Entertainment) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $18,947, Average $3,789
I Am Not Your Negro (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [43 Theaters] Weekend $709,500, Average $16,500
The Lure (Janus Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,500, Cume $9,806 (Wed. Open)
Mr. Gaga (Abramorama) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $24,685, Average $12,434, Cume $33,963 (Wed. Open)
Worlds Apart (Cinema Libre) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,700
Buddies In India (China Lion) Week 2 [25 Theaters] Weekend $25,000, Average $1,000, Cume $279,043
Un Padre No Tan Padre (Pantelion/Lionsgate) Week 2 [312 Theaters] Weekend $435,000, Average $1,394, Cume $1,637,509
The Salesman (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [46 Theaters] Weekend $236,871, Average $5,149, Cume $346,924
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
The Red Turtle (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [21 Theaters] Weekend $75,357, Average $3,588, Cume $235,249
Strike A Pose (Bond360) Week 3 [3 Theaters] Weekend $4,000, Average $1,333, Cume $30,000
20th Century Women (Annapurna/A24) Week 6 [253 Theaters] Weekend $483,230, Average $1,910, Cume $4,789,758
Paterson (Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street) Week 6 [58 Theaters] Weekend $179,652, Average $3,097, Cume $1,049,878
Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [24 Theaters] Weekend $103,302, Average $4,304, Cume $528,079
Julieta (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [58 Theaters] Weekend $127,729, Average $2,202, Cume $1,029,697
Neruda (The Orchard) Week 8 [47 Theaters] Weekend $67,989, Average $1,447, Cume $536,320
La La Land (Lionsgate) Week 9 [3,236 Theaters] Weekend $7,450,000, Average $2,302, Cume $118,306,924
Jackie (Fox Searchlight) Week 10 [327 Theaters] Weekend $360,000, Average $1,101, Cume $12,862,236
Lion (The Weinstein Company) Week 11 [1,405 Theaters], Weekend $4,006,000, Average $2,851, Cume $24,711,674
Manchester By The Sea (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions) Week 12 [974 Theaters] Weekend $1,439,750, Average $1,478, Cume $43,914,563
Elle (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 13 [104 Theaters] Weekend $95,044, Average $914, Cume $1,943,214
The Eagle Huntress (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 14 [48 Theaters] Weekend $40,459, Average $843, Cume $2,935,539
Moonlight (A24) Week 16 [842 Theaters] Weekend $1,234,300, Average $1,466, Cume $19,639,549