As the center of the specialty film world shifted to Toronto, a sizable number of new releases nonetheless hit theaters this weekend. American Experience/PBS Films appears to have one of the best non-fiction bows of the year, with Rory Kennedy’s Last Days In Vietnam, while China Lion’s But Always had a solid foreign-language debut. And RADiUS continued to pioneer new ground in box-office transparency as it released updated VOD numbers for The One I Love and Snowpiercer, whose on-demand figures more than double its U.S. gross.
Last Days In Vietnam opened in two theaters, scoring one of the highest-grossing documentary openers of 2014, a solid $30,450 and a $15,225 average. The opening actually puts Vietnam just ahead of the year’s highest-grossing documentary, America: Imagine The World Without Her, which grossed $38,608 in three theaters when it opened 4th of July weekend, averaging $12,869. That film has cumed over $14.44 million, reaching more than 1,100 theaters at one point. That sort of trajectory is unlikely for Vietnam but the release clearly has box-office promise. The distributor said that there were “multiple sellouts at the Lincoln Plaza on Saturday, and numbers at both theaters nearly doubled from Friday to Saturday.”
In mid-July, Rocky Mountain Pictures opened doc There’s No Place Like Utopia in a single location, grossing $30,710. But by the second weekend, the number whittled to $3,249 in one theater, and it went on to cume $45K.
Last year’s Oscar-winning doc 20 Feet From Stardom (also 2013’s highest non-fiction grosser) started in 3 theaters and an $18,199 PTA before accumulating nearly $5 million. Sony Classics‘ The Gatekeepers averaged $20,517 in three theaters when it opened in February 2013, going on to cume $2.41 million. And Magnolia’s Blackfish started with a $15,192 PTA in five theaters and finished with just over $2 million on the big screen.
“We’re thrilled with the strong opening weekend for Last Days in Vietnam, a film that illuminates both our past and our present as a nation,” said Mark Samels, executive producer for American Experience Films/PBS. “The strong ticket sales are a testament to the fact that the little-known story of how the war in Vietnam ended is powerful in itself, but also highly relevant to today.”
Last Days will next open in Washington, D.C. on Friday, followed by Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia Sept. 19, with an expansion to the top 15 markets to follow.
China Lion has had success with romantic dramas imported from Chinese-speaking regions in the past. They handled Beijing Love Story ($428K cume) in February and other past titles include Love ($309K cume) and Love In The Buff ($256K cume). The distributor’s latest, But Always (Yi Sheng Yi Shi) wutg stars Yuanyuan Gao and Nicholas Tse, opened with momentum in 19 theaters. It’s one of the company’s highest number openers to date, grossing $140K for a $7,368 PTA.
“We’re very happy with the result and we’re looking to expand this Friday to a few more theaters,” said China Lion’s Robert Lundberg. “Yuanyuan Gao and Snow Zou (writer/director) both helped us by reaching out via their Weibo (social-media accounts) and Gao even recorded a personal message for her North American fans.”
RADiUS-TWC updated its VOD numbers for The One I Love and Snowpiercer, which in particular benefits from a very big on-demand boost. The company has consistently revealed VOD numbers, and this week had lots to brag about as Showpiercer’s VOD cume after eight weeks is now at $6,455,496 while The One I Love, now in its 5th week on VOD, is at $737,039. Love also had grosses $104,610 theatrically this weekend. For more on this, check my separate post on the topic, and keep your fingers crossed that more companies will finally begin releasing their VOD revenues, which are starting to add up for some titles such as Snowpiercer.
Amplify, the new label formed by the merger of Variance Films and GoDigital, opened its first title God Help The Girl in a pair of locations, grossing $12,800 for a $6,400 PTA. The film also is available via VOD.
“This is a great start for the film on what’s always a tough weekend at the box office, and we’re expect good things in the expansion next weekend,” said Amplify’s Dylan Marchetti. “Real theatrical releasing, even for day-and-date titles, is going to be a hallmark of all Amplify releases, and we’re delighted to kick things off here.”
God Help The Girl will “aggressively expand theatrically” next weekend to more than 60 additional U.S. theaters, according to Amplify.
Kino Lorber opened Memphis exclusively at IFC Center in New York, though the company said it played “less than a full schedule due to the theater’s crowded docket of holdovers,” including the long-playing Richard Linklater hit Boyhood. Memphis grossed $4K at the Greenwich Village venue, selling out “most of its shows.” Kino Lorber will next take Memphis to L.A., San Francisco, Seattle and Boston in the coming weeks.
In other openers, The Orchard opened sports documentary No No: A Dockumentary in 10 theaters, grossing just over $20K for an average above $2K.
IFC Films bowed Kelly & Cal in at its IFC Center in what the company said was a “split schedule.” It grossed $6K and will open in L.A. next weekend followed by the top markets in September.
And JSC Entertainment’s Innocence had the weekend’s largest number of theaters of the weekend’s limited releases, opening in 490 theaters. The title grossed just over $267K for a slow $545 PTA.
Magnolia Pictures did not report weekend numbers for Frontera and Drafthouse Films did not report for The Congress.
Pantelion added 47 runs for Cantinflas, which grossed $1.03 million in 429 theaters. The film averaged $2,401 and has cumed $4,756,845 in two weeks. The company had great success with last year’s Instructions Not Included, which had the biggest ever gross of a Spanish-language title in the U.S. It hoped to continue that success with Cantinflas, about the Mexican actor who starred in Around The World In Eighty Days, a five-time Oscar winner in 1956. Instructions and Cantinflas opened the same weekend a year apart and Pantelion has targeted the same U.S.-based Latino audience with its marketing.
Instructions grossed over $12.2 million in 348 theaters its first weekend ($22,547 PTA) while Cantinflas had a $2.62M gross from 382 theaters last week ($6,872 PTA). In its second weekend, Pantelion added 369 theaters for Instructions Not Included, grossing over $8.1 million ($11,366 PTA). Cantinflas will clearly have a less lucrative theatrical journey but is the seventh-highest grosser among specialty titles currently in release.
In other second-weekend holdovers, Samuel Goldwyn added 75 runs for The Last Days Of Robin Hood, grossing just under $131K for a $1,700 average. It opened in two theaters last week with a $4,788 PTA ($9,577 gross). Roadside shed one run from Life Of Crime, grossing $45,150, less than half of its $99,500 gross in 33 theaters last week. And Tribeca Film added four locations for Starred Up, grossing $13,290 ($2,215 PTA).
Sony Classics added 17 theaters for the third weekend of Love Is Strange, grossing $284,605 for a $6,468 PTA from 44 locations. It has now cumed more than $840K. IFC Films passed milestones for both its box-office hit Boyhood and The Trip To Italy. The Richard Linklater-directed Boyhood broke $20 million on a weekend gross of $1.41 million ($1,820 average).
“The rave reviews and strong word of mouth continue to pour in as the film will continue to play throughout the fall,” said IFC Films Sunday. And in its fourth week, The Trip To Italy passed the $1 million threshold and expanded into the top 25 markets. It grossed over $349K in 84 theaters for a $4,159 average. Its one-month cume is $1,173,980. And The Orchard’s Sundance ’14 doc winner, Rich Hill, passed $100K in its sixth week, grossing just over $4K in 8 locations.
But Always (China Lion) NEW [19 Theaters] Weekend $140K, Average $7,368
God Help The Girl (Amplify) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $12,800, Average $6,400
Innocence (JSC Entertainment) NEW [490 Theaters] Weekend $267,246, Average $545
Kelly & Cal (IFC Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6K
Last Days In Vietnam (American Experience/PBS Films) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $30,450, Average $15,225
Memphis (Kino Lorber Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $4K
No No: A Dockumentary (The Orchard) NEW [10 Theaters] Weekend $20,074, Average $2,007
Cantinflas (Pantelion/Lionsgate) Week 2 [429 Theaters] Weekend $1.03M, Average $2,401, Cume $4,756,845
The Last Days Of Robin Hood (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Week 2 [77 Theaters] Weekend $130,900, Average $1,700, Cume $174,573
Life Of Crime (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) Week 2 [32 Theaters] Weekend $45,150, Average $1,411, Cume $202,192
Starred Up (Tribeca Film) Week 2 [6 Theaters] Weekend $13,290, Average $2,215, Cume $34,145
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Love Is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [44 Theaters] Weekend $284,605, Average $6,468, Cume $840,310
May In The Summer (Cohen Media Group) Week 3 [7 Theaters] Weekend $7,030, Average $1,004, Cume $22,727
The One I Love (RADiUS-TWC) Week 3 [72 Theaters] Weekend $104,610, Average $1,453, Theatrical Cume $309,309; VOD: Week 5, Cume $737,039
The Man From Rio (Cohen Media Group) Week 4 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,600, Average $800, Cume $35,070
The Trip To Italy (IFC Films) Week 4 [84 Theaters] Weekend $349,356, Average $4,159, Cume $1,173,980
What If (CBS Films) Week 5 [136 Theaters] Weekend $180K Average $1,324, Cume $3,284,809
Calvary (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 [285 Theaters] Weekend $350K, Average $1,228, Cume $3,016,772
Rich Hill (The Orchard) Week 6 [8 Theaters] Weekend $4,058, Average $507, Cume $102,422
Magic In The Moonlight (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [530 Theaters] Weekend $720,499, Average $1,359, Cume $9,271,946
A Most Wanted Man (Roadside Attractions) Week 7 [421 Theaters] Weekend $620,650, Average $1,474, Cume $15,967,739
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 9 [775 Theaters] Weekend $1,410,500, Average $1,820, Cume $20,717,700
Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [73 Theaters] Weekend $60,420 Average $828, Cume $568,852
Begin Again (The Weinstein Company) Week 11 [282 Theaters] Weekend $176K, Average $624, Cume $15,960,582
Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC) Week 11 [24 Theaters] Weekend $16,985, Average $708, Cume $4,500,639; VOD: Week 8, Cume $6,455,496