UPDATED with more numbers and analysis. The specialty film marketplace had a mellow weekend, as Hollywood summer tentpoles dominated the conversation, though audiences did turn out for doc counter-programmers Eating Animals and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Natalie Portman, who produced and narrates Eating Animals, which explores the consequences of factory farming, had a heavy Q&A schedule in New York for its two runs of the IFC Films/Sundance Selects release directed by Christopher Quinn. It grossed $35,215 for hearty $17,607 per theater average. Neighbor, which focuses on the life and TV legacy of Fred Rogers, posted a stellar second-frame average of $10,253 despite a significant expansion. The Focus Features release grossed $985,000 in 96 locations.
On the border between specialty and wide releases, John Travolta’s turn as mob boss John Gotti went out in 503 theaters, grossing $1.67M. Gotti, co-financed by MoviePass Ventures, joined an ignominious club with a 0% Rotten Tomatoes score.
RBG, which had its world premiere at Sundance, continued its spectacular run, becoming one of only two dozen non-fiction titles ever to cross the $10M mark. The Magnolia/Participant profile of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg collected another $483K in 290 sites this weekend in the three-day, averaging $1,666.
Eating Animals, which had its world premiere nearly a year ago in Telluride, savored a sweet opening weekend in Manhattan both downtown and uptown at IFC Center and Landmark 57 West, with visits from Portman. Adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s critically acclaimed book, Eating Animals looks at America’s food industry over the last 40 years. The film shows how the country has shifted from traditional farming communities to massive industrial farming complexes that produce a seemingly endless supply of so-called “cheap” meats, eggs, and dairy.
IFC Films is taking a more traditional approach with Eating via its Sundance Selects, expecting audiences to dine out on it through the summer. “It’s a traditional release, which we do when we feel there’s the theatrical audience [in place] that is passionate,” IFC Films co-president Jonathan Sehring told Deadline this week ahead of the release.
In one of her Q&A appearances on Saturday, Portman revealed her appetite for the small screen. “I’m a fan of competition cooking shows,” she said during a Q&A Saturday. “I’d like to do a vegan [show]. You heard it here first. If anyone [wants to buy it], I’ll be outside in the lobby afterward.”
Eating Animals will next head to L.A. with additional cities planned.
Word of mouth is also propelling Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The emotionally resonant portrait of Rogers, directed by Oscar winner Morgan Neville, is on a path toward some eye-popping numbers by documentary standards.
“We’re seeing more and more with the film’s word of mouth that audiences are grabbing on to this idea of radical kindness that Mister Rogers lived both on screen and off,” said Focus distribution president Lisa Bunnell, who added that 100% of adults rated the film in the top two boxes and 96% listed it as a definite recommend. “Morgan’s film brings hope to people when we need it in our culture right now.”
Focus also touted celebrities’ embrace of the film, with Judd Apatow, Questlove and Sarah Silverman among its fans.
Gunpowder & Sky added 79 runs in week 2 of its release of Hearts Beat Loud by Brett Haley just in time for Father’s Day. Now in 83 locations, the title grossed $249,581 for a $3,007 PTA. It debuted in four locations last weekend, grossing just over $74K for a solid $18,513 average. Hearts Beat Loud has cumed $348K.
The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures expanded writer-director Bart Layton’s American Animals to 72 locations in its third weekend, grossing some $216K (a $3,005 average). Last weekend, it came in at about $235K, averaging $5,591. It has cumed $760,617.
Sony Classics’ The Rider passed $2M this past week, a noteworthy feat for a feature without recognizable stars in its cast. Directed by Chloé Zhao, the Cannes premiere grossed $72,802 in its 10th weekend, bringing its cume to $2.11M.
Gotti (Vertical Entertainment) NEW [503 Theaters] Weekend $1,670,000, Average $3,320
Eating Animals (Sundance Selects) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $35,215, Average $17,607
Hearts Beat Loud (Gunpowder & Sky) Week 2 [83 Theaters] Weekend $249,581, Average $3,007, Cume $348,453
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Focus Features) Wee 2 [96Theaters] Weekend $985,000, Average $10,253, Cume $1,693,000
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
American Animals (The Orchard/MoviePass Ventures) Week 3 [72 Theaters] Weekend $216,371, Average $3,005, Cume $760,617
Breath (FilmRise) Week 3 [10 Theater] Weekend $3,800, Average $380, Cume $27,473
Rodin (Cohen Media Group) Week 3 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,869, Average $934, Cume $16,424
Summer 1993 (Oscilloscope) Week 4 [17 Theaters] Weekend $20,500, Average $1,206, Cume $98,624
Who We Are Now (FilmRise) Week 4 [1 Theater] Weekend $250, Cume $18,766
On Chesil Beach (Bleecker Street) Week 5 [73 Theaters] Weekend $27,060, Average $371, Cume $677,257
First Reformed (A24) Week 5 [273 Theaters] Weekend $329,500, Average $1,207, Cume $2,405,350
Beast (Roadside Attractions/30 West) Week 6 [49 Theaters] Weekend $29,100, Average $593, Cume $763,410
The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [211 Theaters] Weekend $144,760, Average $686, Cume $873,596
The Guardians (Music Box Films) Week 7 [8 Theaters] Weekend $10,256, Average $1,282, Cume $83,158
RBG (Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media) Week 8 [290 Theaters] Weekend $483,000 Average $1,666, Cume $10,101,528
The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10 [94 Theaters] Weekend $72,802, Average $774, Cume $2,118,487