UPDATED at 5:20PM PT with more numbers and analysis. Paul Schrader’s dramatic thriller First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried, handily outpaced all new limited release titles over the weekend with a per-theater average of $25,067.

The A24 newcomer played four locations Friday to Sunday, grossing $100,270, the second highest gross of any limited-release title reporting numbers this weekend. The top grosser overall was Focus Features doc Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word, which is directed by Wim Wenders. Although it racked up the highest absolute gross among debut specialties with $480,000, it played in 346 theaters, that worked out to a middling average of $1,387.

Bleecker Street opened On Chesil Beach with Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle and Emily Watson in four locations, grossing $36,563, while Sundance Selects rolled out Grey Gardens prequel doc That Summer with an exclusive run, taking in $6,018.

Among holdovers, Sony Classics expanded The Seagull in its second frame, grossing nearly $66K in the three-day, while Roadside Attractions/30WEST’s Beast also added locations in week two for a $102,250 weekend in 31 theaters.

A24

Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media more than doubled the theater count for Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s Sundance doc RBG in its third weekend with continued solid numbers, grossing $1.28 million. And SPC’s The Rider galloped into seven-figure country in its sixth weekend.

First Reformed, in the first phase of a planned summer rollout, gave filmmaker Paul Schrader one of the strongest opening weekends of his five-decade career in terms of per-screen average. Hawke stars as a former military chaplain grieving over the death of his son, but the story takes a number of surprising turns and many critics have praised Schrader’s steady, subtle direction. (The film is at 83% on Metacritic and 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.) The director’s last limited-release title in the same ballpark was his 1998 drama Affliction with Willem Dafoe, which opened in three locations, grossing nearly $64K for an average of $21,326.

Focus

Fresh from its Cannes launch this month, Focus Features opened documentary Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word in 346 locations Friday, certainly an aggressive release by non-fiction standards. Focus aimed to position the film as “not a biography about the Pope, rather a film with him,” and having the leader of the Catholic Church as the central subject made the marketing task pretty straightforward. The Pope’s global profile also motivated Focus to take the film fairly wide. “This is different from [most] documentaries,” said Focus distribution chief Lisa Bunnell earlier this week. “Usually, you have to set up the story in order for it to be released properly, but this is a man everyone knows. So, we decided to take this everywhere. We feel everyone should have access to it.” This is most likely the widest the film will go.

On Chesil Beach
Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street released On Chesil Beach, Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s short, bestselling novel about a young British couple reckoning with the consummation of their marriage in a pre-sexual revolution era. The company picked up the film at Toronto last year and plans to add additional cities in the weeks to come. “Having Saoirse Ronan in a film is an exciting opportunity, but particularly in a film like this,” said Bleecker Street distribution head Jack Foley before the weekend. “The audience target is an urbane, core art house crowd. Knowing that [allows us] to manage the film into the marketplace.”

Göran Olsson’s doc That Summer, featuring a pre-Grey Gardens look at “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” in the early 1970s, had an exclusive run at IFC Center Friday to Sunday. The company called the $6K start “solid,” ahead of an expansion to L.A. and Chicago next weekend. It will continue to slowly add cities in the coming weeks.

Last weekend, Sony Classics’ The Seagull took the highest PTA among new specialties and it topped other limited releases also in their second frames. SPC added seven runs for week 2, taking in $65,949 in 13 locations, averaging $5,073. The title opened in six theaters the previous weekend, grossing $80,607, averaging $13,434. It has cumed $180,865.

Roadside Attractions/30WEST took Beast to 27 more theaters in its second outing. In 31 locations, the film took in $102,250 ($3,298 average). Beast debuted in four theaters for $52,078 in its bow, averaging $12,020. Its two-week cume is $181,264.

Good Deed Entertainment added six runs for doc Always At the Carlyle following its single-theater launch. The title grossed $11,999 in seven locales, averaging $1,714 after a $9,209 debut. 

RBG continues to flex strength after a big expansion in its third weekend. Released by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media, the doc about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is easily the year’s highest-grossing non-fiction title at over $3.88M. This weekend, the film went to 375 locations from 180 the week before, with its average declining 47%, from $6,472 to $3,413 — not a bad drop at all for a documentary of its kind.

Music Box Films played The Guardians in several more theaters in its third frame, grossing $10,599 from a total of seven runs ($1,514 average) bringing its cume to $35,550. Disobedience by Sebastián Lelio went from 100 runs to 247 this weekend, holding steady. The Bleecker Street release grossed a solid $498,612, averaging $2,018. Last weekend, it averaged $4,379 from a $437,859 gross. Disobedience’s four-week cume is now more than $1.88M.

And Sony Classics’ The Rider by Chloé Zhao raced into seven-figure pastures, with a three-day gross of $169,640 in 90 theaters (a $1,885 average) bringing the Cannes 2017 debut to a total cume of $1.11M.

NEW RELEASES

On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $36,563, Average $9,141

First Reformed (A24) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $100,270, Average $25,067

Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word (Focus Features) NEW [346 Theaters] Weekend $480,000, Average $1,387

That Summer (Sundance Selects) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,018

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND

Always At the Carlyle (Good Deed Entertainment) Week 2 [7 Theater] Weekend $11,999, Average $1,714, Cume $27,177

Beast (Roadside Attractions/30 West) Week 2 [31 Theaters] Weekend $102,250, Average $3,298, Cume $181,264

Mountain (Greenwich Entertainment) Week 2 [1 Theater] Weekend $4,000, Cume $39,068

Revenge (Neon) Week 2 [15 Theaters] Weekend $11,204, Average $747, Cume $82,562

The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [13 Theaters] Weekend $65,949, Average $5,073, Cume $180,865

Filmworker (Kino Lorber) Week 2 [4 Theaters] Weekend $12,682, Average $3,170, Cume $33,934

Nothing To Lose (Swen Releasing) Week 2 [44 Theaters] Weekend $89,700, Average $2,038, Cume $929,136

Sollers Point (Oscilloscope) Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $6,300, Average $3,100, Cume $17,742

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS

Bad Samaritan (Electric Entertainment) Week 3 [48 Theaters] Weekend $14,500, Average $302, Cume $3,423,054

The Guardians (Music Box Films) Week 3 [7 Theaters] Weekend $10,599, Average $1,514, Cume $35,550

RBG (Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media) Week 3 [375 Theaters] Weekend $1,280,000, Average $3,413, Cume $3,880,766

Disobedience (Bleecker Street) Week 4 [247 Theaters] Weekend $498,612, Average $2,018, Cume $1,881,880

Let The Sunshine In (Sundance Selects) Week 4 [49 Theaters] Weekend $94,602, Average $1,930, Cume $399,663

After Auschwitz (Passion River Films) Week 5 [5 Theaters] Weekend $1,423, Average $284, Cume $70,686

The Devil And Father Amorth (The Orchard) Week 5 [1 Theater] Weekend $720, Average $720, Cume $20,449

Godard Mon Amour (Cohen Media Group) Week 5 [9 Theaters] Weekend $3,727, Average $414, Cume $78,400

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [90 Theaters] Weekend $169,640, Average $1,885, Cume $1,111,954

You Were Never Really Here (Amazon Studios) Week 7 [32 Theaters] Weekend $30,272, Average $946, Cume $2,452,917

Finding Your Feet (Roadside Attractions/Stage 6) Week 8 [30 Theaters] Weekend $15,075, Average $502, Cume $1,376,586

Getting Grace (Hannover House) Week 9 [3 Theaters] Weekend $2,222, Average $741, Cume $216,280

Isle Of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [288 Theaters] Weekend $325,000, Average $1,128, Cume $30,723,277

The Death of Stalin (IFC Films) Week 11 [50 Theaters] Weekend $61,432, Average $1,228, Cume $7,814,433

Itzhak (Greenwich Entertainment) Week 11 [11 Theaters] Weekend $6,000, Average $545, Cume $533,677