Three significant Toronto fest Specialty releases, Victoria and Abdul, Stronger and Battle Of the Sexes opened strong out of the gate this weekend. Focus Features’ Victoria and Abdul reigned supreme, however, by per theater average. Starring Dame Judi Dench, the title grossed $152K in four theaters, averaging just under $38K. Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate’s Stronger with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany cracked the top ten in its debut, grossing over $1.74M in 574 theaters, while Fox Searchlight’s Battle Of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell bowed to a solid $525K in 21 locations. Good Deed Entertainment’s Loving Vincent scored a robust start in an exclusive engagement taking in over $24K. Other single theater bows included Shella Films’ Unrest ($10,700) and Oscilloscope doc Bobbi Jene ($7,500). Amazon Studios/Annapurna expanded Brad’s Status to well over several hundred theaters in its second weekend, grossing just over one million dollars. Frederick Wiseman documentary Ex Libris: The New York Public Library added a few runs in its second frame, grossing $18,250. IFC Films jumped Rebel In the Rye with Nicholas Hoult to 82 runs, grossing over $82K Friday to Sunday, while its historical drama Viceroy’s House with Hugh Bonneville is holding well one month into its release grossing over $201K.

Stephen Frears’ Victoria And Abdul boasted the weekend’s highest per theater average in a robust launch. Dame Judi Dench stars as Queen Victoria, the second time she has played the 19th century British monarch. Victoria And Abdul grossed $152K in four New York and L.A. theaters, averaging $37,933. Focus Features noted Sunday that the film’s gross at the Paris Theater in New York was the “highest at the location in over a year.” The feature also did well at The Landmark in L.A. where Dench took part in Q&As.

Focus Features

“Audiences really respond to her. We saw it at festivals and we saw it again this weekend,” said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features president of Distribution. “Judi Dench is the queen of The Landmark. It was an amazing experience. I got phone calls about people seeing her. People are coming out of the theaters smiling. We need that right now.”

This is the second film by Frears to give a sympathetic portrayal of a British sovereign, though the director said last week at a screening of the film at the Film Society of Lincoln Center that he is “not a royalist.” Helen Mirren portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 2006. That film’s bow only edged out Victoria And Abdul its first weekend, grossing $122K in three theaters for a comparable $40,671 PTA. The Miramax release went on to cume over $56.4M in the domestic box office.

Audiences ticked the top two boxes in reactions to Victoria and Abdul in both New York and L.A. by over 80%. Viewers skewed female, while a majority were over 65 in L.A., while a third were over 65 in New York. Next weekend, Focus will take Victoria And Abdul to the top 25 markets in upscale art house theaters within those markets, followed by a broader expansion into about 500 theaters the following week. “It will be a slower roll out than what we’re used to these days,” added Bunnell.

Battle Of The Sexes
Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight opened Battle Of the Sexes in 21 locations Friday. Starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in a tennis match that hit the socio-political zeitgeist in 1973 grossed $525K, averaging $25K.

“Suffice it to say, we’re very, very happy with the results,” said Searchlight SVP Frank Rodriguez Sunday. “In our loftiest expectations, we were thinking $18K per screen, but even if we had only gotten $15K, we’d go to 1,100 theaters. But getting ti $25K per screen is tremendous.”

In addition to prime locations in New York and L.A., the company opened Battle Of the Sexes in a few suburban locations to see how the title would play. In one Chicago suburb, the film was the top grosser, which naturally pleased the distributor. “That tells us there’s interest in the two stars and the Billie Jean King story,” said Rodriguez. “We did get a A on Cinemascore. Distributors are always going to be optimistic, but we won the first set, to use tennis terminology. And we have two more sets to win. I think the story is strong and all of our teams have done the right thing.”

Searchlight will take Battle Of the Sexes to between 1,100 – 1,200 theaters next weekend.

Roadside Attractions

David Gordon Green’s Stronger handily topped the specialties this weekend in absolute gross, though it of course played far more runs. In 574 theaters, the title grossed $1,747,910, averaging a solid $3,054. The film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman in the true story of a man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombings, received an A- Cinemascore, while also landing at number 9 in the overall box office as of Sunday morning.

Noted the distributors Sunday: “With a 95% score on RT, Stronger, is one of the best reviewed motion pictures of the year, and excellent word of mouth and career-high notices for Gyllenhaal resulted in a 35% uptick from Friday to Saturday with an audience split 65% female and 35% male.”

“It’s very heartfelt,” said Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen earlier this week. “By virtue of being a recent [event], it’s still a raw wound for some people. It honors the true story and the people of Boston yet it’s also a commercial movie. It’s hard to pull off all of those things.” Stronger will go to about 650 locations next week.

Also landing a solid start was Good Deed Entertainment’s Loving Vincent. The title had an exclusive run at Lincoln Plaza in New York this weekend, grossing $24,304. “We’re really excited. We put a lot of love into the release,” said Kristin Harris, VP, Acquisitions and Distribution. “It’s gratifying to see this number come out of Lincoln Plaza. We’ll go to one or maybe two [theaters] in L.A. next weekend.” Good Deed will take Loving Vincent to about 100 locations in the next couple weeks.

Brad's Status
Amazon

Brad’s Status jumped from four runs in its debut to 453 this weekend. The Amazon Studios/Annapurna Pictures grossed just over $1M, averaging $2,210. The title starring Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen and Luke Wilson bowed in four locations last weekend, grossing $100,179, averaging just over $25K. It will continue to add runs in the coming weeks.

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library is documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s 43rd film in his 50 year career. The title expanded out from its exclusive run at New York’s Film Forum to three additional locations. Ex Libris grossed $18,250, averaging $4,563. Released via Wiseman’s Zipporah Films, the title grossed $11,175 its opening weekend at Film Forum. It has cumed $42,451.

IFC Films added 33 theaters over last weekend for Rebel In the Rye in its third frame. Directed by Danny Strong and starring Nicholas Hoult as a young J.D. Salinger, the title grossed $82,323 in 82 theaters, averaging $1,003. The title grossed over $101K the weekend prior in 49 locations, averaging $2,064. It has cumed over $265K.

IFC Films continues to do well in theaters with historical drama Viceroy’s House starring Hugh Bonneville as Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India. The title took in $201,287 in 120 theaters (up from 109 last weekend), averaging $1,677 bringing its cume to $746K.

And The Trip to Spain from IFC Films crossed $1M in its seventh weekend in theaters. The film grossed $34,742 in 59 theaters, averaging $589.

NEW RELEASES

Battle Of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight) NEW [21 Theaters] Weekend $525,000, Average $25,000

Oscilloscope

Bobbi Jene (Oscilloscope) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $7,500

Loving Vincent (Good Deed Entertainment) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $24,304

Unrest (Shella Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $10,700

Stronger (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) NEW [574 Theaters] Weekend $1,747,910, Average $3,045

Victoria And Abdul (Focus Features) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $152,000, Average $37,933

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND

Brad’s Status (Amazon Studios/Annapurna Pictures) Week 2 [453 Theaters] Weekend $1,001,000, Average $2,210, Cume $1,114,337

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Zipporah Films) Week 2 [4 Theater] Weekend $18,250, Average $4,563, Cume $42,451

May It Last: A Portrait Of the Avett Brothers (Oscilloscope) [3 Theaters] Weekend $2,000, Average $667, Cume $688,712

IFC Films

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS

Rebel In the Rye (IFC Films) Week 3  [82 Theaters ] Weekend $82,323, Average $1,003, Cume $265,172

Trophy (The Orchard) Week 3 [19 Theaters] Weekend $4,354, Average $229, Cume $11,827

The Unknown Girl (IFC Films) Week 3 [23 Theaters] Weekend $28,538, Average $1,241, Cume $92,102

Do It Like An Hombre (Pantelion/Lionsgate) Week 4 [50 Theaters] Weekend $52,000, Average $1,040, Cume $2,465,505

Dolores (PBS Distribution) Week 4 [27 Theaters] Weekend $70,125, Average $2,597, Cume $257,480

Tulip Fever (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [90 Theaters] Weekend $32,626, Average $362, Cume $2,341,755

Viceroy’s House (IFC Films) Week 4 [120 Theaters] Weekend $201,287, Average $1,677, Cume $746,008

Beach Rats
Neon

Beach Rats (Neon) Week 5 [44 Theaters] Weekend $39,405, Average $896, Cume $392,503

Polina (Oscilloscope) Week 5 [19 Theaters] Weekend $15,000, Average $789, Cume $148,189

California Typewriter (Gravitas Ventures) Week 6 [16 Theaters] Weekend $23,479, Average $1,467, Cume $162,591

Crown Heights (IFC Films/Amazon Studios) Week 6 [7 Theaters] Weekend $1,758, Average $251, Cume $236,883

Marjorie Prime (FilmRise) Week 6 [7 Theaters] Weekend $6,500, Average $928, Cume $160,128

Ingrid Goes West (Neon) Week 7 [50 Theaters] Weekend $25,952, Average $519, Cume $2,975,061

The Trip To Spain (IFC Films) Week 7 [59 Theaters] Weekend $34,742, Average $589, Cume $1,000,463

Columbus (Superlative Films/Depth of Field) Week 8 [57 Theaters] Weekend $80,222, Average $1,407, Cume $751,517

We Love You Sally Carmichael! (Purdue Distribution) Week 8 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,088, Average $544, Cume $111,736

Weinstein Co.

Wind River (The Weinstein Company) Week 8 [1,431 Theaters] Weekend $1,265,285, Average $884, Cume $31,653,034

The Big Sick (Amazon Studios/Lionsgate) Week 14 [122 Theaters] Weekend $114,000, Average $934, Cume $42,715,107

Lost In Paris (Oscilloscope) Week 15 [11 Theaters] Weekend $13,000, Average $1,182, Cume $651,617

Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 15 [44 Theaters] Weekend $23,252, Average $528, Cume $6,117,795

The Hero (The Orchard) Week 16 [1 Theaters] Weekend $305, Cume $4,075,800

Love, Kennedy (Purdie Distribution) Week 17 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,396, Average $698, Cume $402,204