All the signs were there that Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name would have a robust opening, and the film, starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg came through fabulously this Thanksgiving weekend. The Sony Pictures Classics feature had the year’s highest per theater average opening at $101,219. Call Me By Your Name, which is also a big awards contender this year, receiving the most Independent Spirit Award nominations, grossed nearly $405K in just four New York and L.A. theaters. Call Me By Your Name edged over A24’s Lady Bird, which took the mantle of Best PTA opener of the year when it bowed November 5 with a gross of $375,612 from four locations, averaging $93,903. Lady Bird, meanwhile, crossed $10M at the box office in its fourth weekend in release. Focus Features’ Darkest Hour had a robust start that is itself one of the year’s best per theater average openers. The film, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman as Sir Winston Churchill grossed $248K in four theaters, averaging $61,944, the fourth-best of 2017. Bleecker Street’s The Man Who Invented Christmas opened in the most locations among the weekend’s new limited releases. Starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce, the feature grossed over $1.34M from 626 runs. On the other end, in just one location, Zeitgeist Films opened bio-doc Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story in just one location, taking in a solid $18,742.
Call Me By Your Name has been building all year over a long festival run that began at Sundance and continued through the fall festivals, selling out screenings and all but pre-determined to have a sizzling theatrical run. The film by Italian Luca Guadagnino from a script by James Ivory based on the novel by Andrè Aciman came out with flying colors, surpassing Lady Bird with the year’s best opening weekend per theater average. Call Me By Your Name grossed $404,874 in four New York and L.A. theaters Friday to Sunday, averaging $101,219.
The numbers are all the more impressive given that it’s not an English-only film. Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star as an unlikely duo who fall in love in the summer in 1983 in northern Italy. The feature also has one of the best openings for any gay-themed film, though 2005’s Brokeback Mountain still had a slightly higher $109,485 average when it rolled out in December of that year in five theaters. It went on to cume over $83M, receiving a Best Picture nomination, but shockingly losing out to Crash. Call Me By Your Name will get its first awards match-up Monday night at the Gothams where it is nominated for four prizes.
“We monitored the movie from the very beginning,” said Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker just before the start of the Thanksgiving weekend. “Luca [Guadagnino] sent us a scene. When we watched it, we realized how faithful it was to the novel. We’ve been tracking it a long time and it’s of such high quality in so many areas.”
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird — which also features Timothée Chalamet — took the title of the year’s best per theater average opener when it rolled out the first weekend of November, grossing $375,612 in four theaters, giving the A24 release a $93,903 average. Before the release of Lady Bird, Amazon Studios/Lionsgate’s The Big Sick had 2017’s highest opening weekend per theater average at $84,315 when it opened in five theaters in late June grossing $421,577 in its debut. The romantic-comedy by Michael Showalter has cumed over $42.87M.
Last year’s number one average opener, La La Land, still outpaces this year’s crop, averaging $176,221 from a gross over $881K in five theaters when it opened last December. Last year’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight (also an A24 release) from director Barry Jenkins grossed over $402K its opening weekend, averaging $100,519.
Focus Features’ Darkest Hour by Joe Wright and screenwriter Anthony McCarten had a robust opening in four theaters, with an average that appears as of Sunday morning to be the fourth best of 2017 at $61,944. Starring Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup and Ben Mendelsohn, the title grossed $248K in four New York and Los Angeles locations.
“Audiences are loving the film. Gary’s unrecognizable portrayal and seeing how one of history’s tried and true leaders used the power of words to unite his people,” commented Focus president of distribution Lisa Bunnell Sunday. “Exits polls have been through the roof in the mid-90s in the top two boxes, showing great signs that this film will have a very long run.”
Darkest Hour is not the only success Focus Features has mined from fairly recent British history (given its comparatively much longer history than the U.S.) The company opened Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul, starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, in late September. Victoria and Abdul has cumed $21.9M, still the best of the fall’s awards hopefuls, though that may well be ultimately challenged by the likes of Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird and Darkest Hour.
“We’re going to be very careful with it,” said Bunnell earlier this week about the film’s roll out beyond opening weekend. “This will definitely have legs and good word-of-mouth. It’s a movie that needs to start out slowly. We’ve already seen great responses. The experience is that you feel it from the perspective of the people in the film. It can also be related to today, and that’s what makes audiences enthusiastic. Darkest Hour is very relevant, and there’s a lot of humor…” The company will likely keep the title in its four locations until December 8 before expanding to the top ten markets. Darkest Hour will then go nationwide December 22.
Bleecker Street’s holiday offering, The Man Who Invented Christmas bowed in 626 theaters over the holiday weekend, grossing over $1.34M Friday to Sunday and nearly $1.8M in the five-day total, averaging $2,146 (3-day). Directed by Bharat Nalluri and featuring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce, the title is seen as an enduring story that will live beyond its initial theatrical run, according to Bleecker Street.
“What we all agreed on at the beginning is that due to the fact its about A Christmas Carol, it becomes an evergreen [film],” said Bleecker Street’s president of Distribution, Jack Foley. “It will have a life beyond its theatrical [release] due to the fact it works on an enjoyable and entertaining level. That’s what positioned the project for us. You’re always bound to release this film during the holiday season obviously.”
Only in one theater, Zeitgeist Films (in association with Kino Lorber) documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story had a solid start in New York over the weekend, taking in $18,742. Zeitgeist’s Nancy Gerstman said Sunday that film had “lines down the block all weekend,” and had, “a very happy Thanksgiving.” The film will next head to Los Angeles with “a national expansion throughout December, January and February.”
After a somewhat tepid start last weekend in just four theaters last weekend, Columbia Pictures’ Roman J. Israel, Esq. kicked into gear in fairly wide release this weekend. The company reported the title starring Denzel Washington grossed $6.2M in the five-day in 1,600-plus theaters. For more information on the film, see Deadline’s studio box office report.
GKIDS added five runs for its animated title The Breadwinner, grossing $18,064 in eight locations, averaging $2,258. The title opened in three theaters last weekend, grossing $19,530, averaging $6,510. It has cumed $44,612.
And Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri more than doubled its cume after expanding to 590 theaters vs. last weekend’s 53. The film starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson grossed $5.85M over the long Thanksgiving weekend, averaging $9,924 (3-day gross: $4.4M, $7,166 average), brining its three-week cume to over $7.62M.
Said Searchlight Sunday: “The film has begun to gain traction in mainstream theatrers as evidenced by the solid performance in many suburban multiplexes as well as continuing to excel in Art and Specialty houses.” Next weekend, 12/1, Three Billboards will expand once again to over 1,000 theaters across North America.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $18,742
Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $404,874, Average $101,219
Darkest Hour (Focus Features) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $248,000, Average $61,944
Explosion (China Lion) NEW [33 Theaters] Weekend $63,000, Average $1,909
The Man Who Invented Christmas (Bleecker Street) NEW [626 Theaters] Weekend $1,343,284, Average $2,146, Cume $1,796,958 (5-day total)
The Breadwinner (GKIDS) Week 2 [8 Theaters] Weekend $18,064, Average $2,258, Cume $44,612
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Columbia Pictures) Week 2 [1,600-plus Theaters] Weekend $6,200,000 (5-day), Average $3,875 (from 1,600 theaters)
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Thelma (The Orchard) Week 3 [12 Theater] Weekend $20,993; $22,266 (5-day), Average $1,749; $1,855 (5-day), Cume $49,136
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [590 Theaters] Weekend $4,400,000; $5,855,000 (5-day), Average $7,166; $9,924 (5-day), Cume $7,624,070
1945 (Menemsha Films) Week 4 [5 Theaters] Weekend $30,110, Average $6,022, Cume $123,822
My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise) Week 4 [75 Theaters] Weekend $155,000, Average $2,066, Cume $742,113
Lady Bird (A24) Week 4 [791 Theaters] Weekend $4,041,733; 5,372,715 (5-day), Average $5,110; $6,792 (5-day), Cume $10,702,821
Last Flag Flying (Amazon Studios/Lionsgate) Week 5 [98 Theaters] Weekend $185,000; 236,600 (5-day), Average $1,888; $2,414 (5-day), Cume $679,792
Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5 [120 Theaters] Weekend $76,526, Average $638, Cume $367,707
BPM (Beats Per Minute) (The Orchard) Week 6 [7 Theaters] Weekend $1,748; $3,416 (5-day), Average $250; $488, Cume $79,405
Jane (National Geographic Films/Abramorama) Week 6 [51 Theaters] Weekend $83,337, Average $1,634, Cume $1,168,255
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (A24) Week 6 [59 Theaters] Weekend $65,278; $92,974 (5-day), Average $1,106; $1,576 (5-day), Cume $2,111,190
Marshall (Open Road Films) Week 7 [111 Theaters] Weekend $61,569, Average $555, Cume $8,882,332
Tom Of Finland (Kino Lorber Films) Week 7 [8 Theaters] Weekend $13,300, Average $1,662, Cume $206,220
Faces Places (Cohen Media Group) Week 8 [10 Theaters] Weekend $13,733, Average $1,373, Cume $494,485
The Florida Project (A24) Week 8 [164 Theaters] Weekend $298,745; $355,598 (5-day), Average $1,822; $2,168 (5-day), Cume $4,743,560
Friend Request (Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures) Week 10 [1 Theater] Weekend $162, Cume $3,759,089
Loving Vincent (Good Deed Entertainment) Week 10 [147 Theaters] Weekend $263,123, Average $1,790, Cume $5,147,869
Victoria And Abdul (Focus Features) Week 10 [144 Theaters] Weekend $118,000, Average $819, Cume $21,907,035
Wind River (The Weinstein Company) Week 16 [15 Theaters] Weekend $6,468, Average $431, Cume $33,795,339