Never mind the other specialty films this weekend. It’s really all about Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) and its high-flying debut, averaging more than $100,000 per theater in its opening weekend.
The Venice/Telluride feature directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton had one of the best bows of the year, exceeded only by another of distributor Fox Searchlight’s specialty projects, last spring’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (that one opened in four theaters with nearly $203K averages).
But there was plenty of success this weekend to go around. Roadside opened Sundance fave Dear White People with gusto. GKIDS’ The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya, Rocky Mountain’s Got The Father and Tribeca’s Listen Up Philip also had solid to decent bows in limited release. And TWC’s St. Vincent and SPC’s Whiplash held strong in their second frame.
Birdman nested atop the Specialty box office this weekend and it will not be easily matched. It joins only a handful of others including Budapest as well as The Master (147K PTA in 5 Theaters), Blue Jasmine ($102K PTA in 6 theaters), and Inside Llewyn Davis ($101K PTA in 4 theaters) to average above $100,000 per theater.
Comparing Iñárritu’s previous debuts, Biutiful had a $7,749 PTA in its 2011 debut before cuming over $5.1 million. His 2006 release Babel opened to an impressive $55,621 PTA and a $34.3 million domestic cume. Focus released 2003’s awards contender 21 Grams, eventually grossing nearly $16.3 million. In 2001, Lionsgate opened his influential Amores Perros, which had a domestic $5.4 million cume.
“The film was selling out most of the prime shows in theaters in New York and Los Angeles, as moviegoers tried to get a look at this film,” Searchlight said. “We are truly amazed and gratified at the reception that Birdman has received so far, and even though we knew people loved the film from its successful festival screenings, we still did not expect the picture to have the second-highest per-screen average in the last two years.”
Birdman will add 18 markets Friday and expand a bit in NYC and LA, to about 45 or 50 locations, the company said Sunday.
If it weren’t for Birdman, we’d be talking a lot more about Dear White People. It’s worthy of its own headlining open this weekend, bowing in 11 theaters, grossing a robust $344K-plus for a $31,285 PTA.
“We had sellouts in many of our theaters throughout the weekend,” Roadside said in a release. “Our teaser trailer dropped via the film’s YouTube page, [had] 1 million hits in a couple days, and we grew the Facebook community from 10,000 to 300,000 with exclusive content.”
Dear White People, which used a string of controversy-stirring online video shorts to raise awareness ahead of the debut, will expand to 350 locations in the top 75 markets Oct. 24.
GKIDS opened fantasy animation The Tale Of Princess Kaguya in 3 theaters also scoring solid numbers. The feature grossed over $51K, averaging a solid $17,229.
“Given this weekend brought some of the strongest specialty competition of the season, we are very pleased with the opening, including numerous sold out shows in New York,” GKIDS said in a release. Kaguya will move into the ‘top markets’ in the next month.
Tribeca Films’ Listen Up Philip also brought in the crowds this weekend. The Sundancer grossed $24,291 in a pair of locations, averaging $12,145.
“In what was an extremely crowded weekend for specialty films, we are very pleased with both the performance and reception of Listen Up Philip,” Tribeca said. “We’ve built awareness and word-of-mouth post-Sundance with advance screenings and conversations at the New York Film Festival, the New Yorker Festival, Sundance NEXT and BAMcinematek, and it’s clear that this incredibly sophisticated, literary dark comedy is resonating with discerning viewers of all generations.”
The film heads to VOD and iTunes Tuesday, Oct. 21 and will expand next weekend to 15-plus markets.
In other openers, Rocky Mountain Pictures brought God The Father to one theater grossing just over $15K, Zeitgeist debuted Diplomacy in a single showing, grossing nearly $8K, China Lion opened its latest import The Golden Era in 15 theaters, grossing $48K ($3,200 PTA), Vitagraph had The Hacker Wars in a single bow grossing $3,600. Samuel Goldwyn went Rudderless, William H. Macy’s directorial debut, in 18 theaters, grossing $36K for a slight $2K PTA.
Sony Classics added 15 runs for Sundance winner Whiplash. It grossed $210,801 in 21 theaters, averaging just over $10K ($416,228 cume). Drafthouse Films added one theater for lauded doc The Overnighters, grossing $5,462 ($2,731 average). And The Weinstein Company shed 18 locales for musical biopic One Chance, a former Golden Globe nominee for best song that has already appeared on Yahoo free ahead of its theatrical run. It grossed $14,400 for a $576 PTA.
Birdman (Fox Searchlight) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $415K, Average $103,750
Dear White People (Roadside Attractions) [11 Theaters] Weekend $344,136, Average $31,285
Diplomacy (Zeitgeist Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $7,962, Cume $12,194 (Wed. open)
God The Father (Rocky Mountain Pictures) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $15,010
The Golden Era (China Lion) NEW [15 Theaters] Weekend $48K, Average $3,200
The Hacker Wars (Vitagraph) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $3,600
Listen Up Philip (Tribeca Film) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $24,291, Average $12,145
Rudderless (Samuel Goldwyn Films) NEW [18 Theaters] Weekend $36K, Average $2K
The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (GKIDS) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $51,686, Average $17,229
Awake: The Life Of Yogananda (Counterpoint) Week 2 [7 Theater] Weekend $58,712, Average $8,377, Cume $92,853
One Chance (The Weinstein Company) Week 2 [25 Theaters] Weekend $14,400, Average $576, Cume $67,616
The Overnighters (Drafthouse Films) Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $5,462, Average $2,731, Cume $12,705
St. Vincent (The Weinstein Company) Week 2 [68 Theaters] Weekend $685K, Average $10,074, Cume $836,982
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [21 Theaters] Weekend $210,801, Average $10,038, Cume $416,228
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Bang Bang (Fox International Productions) Week 3 [108 Theaters] Weekend $155K, Average $1,453, Cume $2,560,393
Breakup Buddies (China Lion) Week 3 [24 Theaters] Weekend $85K, Average $3,542, Cume $692K
The Blue Room (Sundance Selects) Week 3 [24 Theaters] Weekend $38,880, Average $1,620, Cume $124,231
Harmontown (The Orchard) Week 3 [6 Theaters] Weekend $12,514, Average $2,086, Cume $40,627
Mas Negro Que La Noche (Lionsgate/Pantelion) Week 4 [22 Theaters] Weekend $10,500, Average $477, Cume $861,561
Pride (CBS Films) Week 4 [115 Theaters] Weekend $205,200, Average $1,784, Cume $858,551
Art And Craft (Oscilloscope) Week 5 [20 Theaters] Weekend $20,145, Average $1,007, Cume $150,290
The Guest (Picturehouse) Week 5 [11 Theaters] Weekend $11,101, Average $1,009, Cume $322,588
Hector And The Search For Happiness (Relativity) Week 5 [39 Theaters] Weekend $35K, Average $897, Cume $890,870
Keep On Keepin’ On (RADiUS) Week 5 [8 Theaters] Weekend $11,080, Average $1,385, Cume $96,190
Pump (Submarine Deluxe) Week 5 [4 Theaters] Weekend $4,295, Average $1,073, Cume $88,828
Tracks (The Weinstein Company) Week 5 [36 Theaters] Weekend $33,900, Average $942, Cume $411,111
The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company) Week 6 [8 Theaters] Weekend $11,900, Average $1,488, Cume $571,641
My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group) Week 6 [128 Theaters] Weekend $214,189, Average $1,673, Cume $3,177,053
The Trip To Italy (IFC Films) Week 10 [42 Theaters] Weekend $41,160, Average $980, Cume $2,763,530
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 15 [52 Theaters] Weekend $72,800, Average $1,400, Cume $23,685,131
Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC) Week 17 [4 Theaters] Weekend $1,202, Average $300, Cume $4,562,457