Boots Riley’s Sundance fest debut Sorry To Bother You opened in seven markets, playing strong everywhere. Distributor Annapurna, which picked up the title out of the festival earlier this year, was rightfully thrilled with the opening weekend numbers. The fantasy/science fiction title starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler and Danny Glover grossed over $717K in 16 locations for an impressive $44,831 per theater average, the fourth-highest among the year’s indies. Roadside Attractions and Miramax opened documentary Whitney in 452 theaters around the country, grossing over $1.25M, averaging $2,770. The big doc star, however, is Focus Features’ Won’t You Be My Neighbor? which is now the year’s highest-grossing non-fiction title at $12.38M. Neon/CNN Films’ Three Identical Strangers opened strong last weekend and continued to pull in audiences in its second frame with an expansion to 51 theaters. Also a Sundance debut, the feature by Tim Wardle grossed $717K, averaging just over $14K.
Bleecker Street added runs for Leave No Trace in week two, holding well in 37 runs, estimating $425,501 Friday to Sunday. And, The Orchard/MoviePass Ventures’ American Animals went over $2.5M in its sixth weekend outing.
Sorry to Bother You reigned over the Specialty debuts Friday to Sunday with a brilliant start in 16 theaters. Filmmaker Boots Riley’s genre-bending title played seven markets in its opening weekend grossing $717,302 for the $44,831 per-theater average, the fourth highest of the year among Specialty releases. The figure is also notable given that the title bowed in 16 locations. Of the three indie titles to outpace Sorry to Bother You this year, only Searchlight’s Isle of Dogs played more theaters in its opening frame. That Wes Anderson-directed film grossed $1.62M in 27 locations when it opened in March, averaging $60,011.
Bleecker Street’s Disobedience bowed in five locations in late April, grossing $237,393 ($47,479 average) and IFC Films’ The Death of Stalin played four runs in its opening weekend in March, grossing $184,805 ($46,201 average).
“There is something special in this movie and we’re excited about it,” said Erik Lomis, Annapurna president, Distribution, Sunday morning. “Annapurna had been tracking this film for three years. We’re a champion of unique voices and we think Boots Riley is a refreshing voice in Hollywood.”
Annapurna said that the feature skewed 54% female and 51% caucasian, 49% non-caucasian with 42% of the audience falling between ages 25 and 34. Additionally, the company said 82% ticked the top two boxes.
“It did super strong everywhere,” said Lomis. “It did $110K at the Arclight Hollywood and $45K at Lincoln Square [in New York] where it was second to Ant Man. It was number one at the Angelika. It’s a unique film for the time. The cast and Boots were really engaged.” Lomis said that the feature played a mix of commercial and art house theaters over the weekend. Next weekend, Sorry to Bother You will head to between 600 and 800 theaters.
Whitney from Roadside Attractions and Miramax had by far the widest start among the Specialties Friday, debuting in 452 locations around the country. The Cannes premiere by Kevin Macdonald about late singer superstar Whitney Houston grossed $1,251,945, averaging $2,770. The gross makes Whitney the fourth non-fiction title to gross seven figures this year.
Roadside said Sunday that the audience played 65% female of which 35% were 25-49, with 24% women over 50. Houston broke more music industry records than any other female singer in history. With over 200 million album sales worldwide, she was the only artist to chart seven consecutive U.S. No. 1 singles.
Roadside co-president Howard Cohen said earlier this week that plans were to play Whitney in a mix of art houses and commercial venues and that they wanted to immediately engage fans of the singer. “We’re orienting this film toward her fans. We’ve also had a huge amount of press on a movie about someone who’s no longer with us, including pieces on GMA, Entertainment Tonight etc., so we want to make the movie available to fans right away.”
Mubi opened doc Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda in an exclusive engagement at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The company said it sold out shows on Friday and Saturday evening, grossing an estimated $12,500 Friday to Sunday at the location. Mubi added that the figure is “the highest per-screen average for an opening weekend of a foreign-language documentary in over a year.” The company noted Sunday that Coda has already sold out shows for the weekend of July 13 in NYC, “building on strong domestic word-of-mouth that began with the film’s US premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.”
“We are thrilled with the opening weekend of [the film] at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York this weekend.” said Lilly Riber, Director of Marketing at Mubi. “The reception has been spectacular, from both audiences and critics alike. Sakamoto is a truly legendary artist and it is an honor to bring this intimate portrait to his existing fans, and even more so to have the opportunity to introduce him and his work to new audiences. We look forward to bringing Coda to many more cities across the US including LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, and Atlanta prior to the exclusive release on Mubi in September.”
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda will expand to 20 markets including Los Angeles on July 13 with more cities on tap throughout summer.
GKIDS opened Japanese animated feature Fireworks in a mix of regular runs as well as a large event screening on Saturday. In all, the feature grossed $137,669. The film opened earlier in the week to three show engagements on July 3 in 500 theaters, bringing its holiday weekend total over $512,199.
Doc Three Identical Strangers expanded to 51 runs in its second weekend, continuing to show strong momentum following its notable bow in five locations last week. The Neon/CNN Films release grossed $717,008, averaging $14,059. The feature by Tim Wardle grossed $171,503 in five locations the weekend prior, averaging $34,301. Three Identical Strangers went over seven figures this weekend, bringing its cume to $1,041,955.
Bleecker Street expanded its Debra Granik-directed drama Leave No Trace to 37 theaters in its second frame, grossing $425,501 for an $11,500 PTA. The title starring Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie bowed in nine theaters grossing $219,140 in its opening frame, averaging $24,349. It has now cumed $800,422.
Bollywood title Sanju from FIP played 359 locations in its second outing, taking in $1.24M in the three-day, averaging $3,454. The feature from writer-director Rajkumar Hirani in a story centering on Sanjay Dutt, one of India’s biggest actors, took in $2.55M in its opening weekend. It has now cumed just under $6M.
Sony Pictures Classics jumped Boundaries to 224 theaters from last weekend’s 17 in its third weekend. The title grossed $236,316 Friday to Sunday, averaging $1,054. The title averaged $2,943 the weekend prior from a gross of over $113K. Boundaries has cumed $362,230.
Focus Features’ Fred Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is now the year’s highest-grossing non-fiction title at $12.38M. The title also has the widest release of the year for a doc, playing 893 theaters this weekend, taking in $2.59M. The title is also on track to rank ninth in the overall box office this weekend.
Also passing a milestone is American Animals from The Orchard/MoviePass Ventures. The feature has cumed $2,560,053, now in its sixth weekend. In 135 locations, the title grossed $156,770, averaging $1,161 Friday to Sunday.
Fireworks (GKIDS) NEW [Friday and Sunday, 10 select full run engagements; Saturday 500 event locations] Weekend $137,669
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Mubi) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $12,500
Sorry to Bother You (Annapurna) NEW [16 Theaters] Weekend $717,302, Average $44,831
Whitney (Roadside Attractions/Miramax) NEW [452 Theaters] Weekend $1,251,945, Average $2,770
Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street) Week 2 [37 Theaters] Weekend $425,501, Average $11,500, Cume $800,422
Sanju (FIP) Week 2 [359 Theaters] Weekend $1,240,000, Average $3,454, Cume $5,954,325
Three Identical Strangers (NEON/CNN Films) Week 2 [51 Theaters] Weekend $717,008, Average $14,059, Cume $1,041,955
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Boundaries (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [224 Theaters] Weekend $236,316, Average $1,054, Cume $362,230
The Catcher Was a Spy (IFC Films) Week 3 [52 Theaters] Weekend $104,520, Average $2,010, Cume $490,630
The King (Oscilloscope) Week 3 [7 Theaters] Weekend $15,200, Average $2,171, Cume $66,414
Gotti (Vertical Entertainment) Week 4 [100 Theaters] Weekend $82,000, Average $820, Cume $4,265,395
Eating Animals (Sundance Selects) Week 4 [18 Theaters] Weekend $9,544, Average $530, Cume $110,154
Hearts Beat Loud (Gunpowder & Sky) Week 5 [169 Theaters] Weekend $268,514, Average $1,588, Cume $1,868,607
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Focus Features) Wee 5 [893 Theaters] Weekend $2,590,000, Average $2,901, Cume $12,380,000
American Animals (The Orchard/MoviePass Ventures) Week 6 [135 Theaters] Weekend $156,770, Average $1,161, Cume $2,560,053
First Reformed (A24) Week 8 [77 Theaters] Weekend $72,500, Average $942, Cume $3,328,176
The Seagull (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [25 Theaters] Weekend $14,324, Average $571, Cume $1,215,905
The Guardians (Music Box Films) Week 10 [6 Theaters] Weekend $6,114, Average $1,019, Cume $143,168