Holdovers Drive My Car, Red Rocket and The Scary Of Sixty First looked good in limited runs on a weekend with few new specialty releases and even fewer numbers. Streamers – which presented The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Swan Song (Apple) and The Tender Bar (Amazon), don’t reveal them and smaller distributors often report early in the week.
The Novice from IFC — Tribeca winner for best Feature, Actress (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Cinematography (Tod Martin) — grossed an estimated $11,500 in 37 theaters for a per theater average of $311. Also available on VOD. It was one of the only newbies to report during an unusual weekend with Spider-Man: No Way Home smashing records and sucking up most box office oxygen, and with Covid again resurgent.
As per my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro, researcher NRG says men under 25 – unvaccinated or not — are the most comfortable attending the movies. and most of them were at Spider-Man. That wasn’t good news for Searchlight Pictures’ Nightmare Alley from Guillermo del Toro. Starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn, it grossed an estimated $3M in in 2,145 theaters coming in fifth at the box office (after Spider-Man, Encanto, West Side Story and Ghostbusters Afterlife.)
“The numbers were a bit more modest than we had predicted ,” said Frank Rodriquez, SVP General Sales Manager, Searchlight Pictures. “The hope is that after people have seen Spider-Man, they may choose to see a film like Nightmare Alley.”
“We went wide because we feel that we have a very commercial film, with big stars. We spent some money, and put ourselves out there,” Rodriquez said. “It’s not just arthouse, it really is a four quadrant film able to play in upscale multiplexes, mainstream locations and even urban markets.”
Searchlight didn’t want to go up against West Side Story last weekend or the half-dozen big movies that start to open on Wed of this week. “We figured, lets carve out a little space,” he said. “Nobody thought Spider-Man would be this big.” He took it as a good sign that Nightmare Alley was first or second in a number of key theaters, despite being 5th overall.
“Maybe there’s some awards consideration and maybe a way to come back in.” The remake of the 1947 thriller is being released in black-and-white in Los Angeles in January. “We’re hopeful well get them on the second go round. It’s a long haul for us.”
Searchlight jumpstarted a specialty revival with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch in late October. But the older demos key to arthouse and specialty releases have been the most reluctant to return to cinemas. Specialty distributors are laser focused now on the best way to gently guide a select crop of films towards Oscar nominations on Feb. 8.
Notable ongoing platform releases include Sideshow/Janus Films’ release of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s critically acclaimed Drive My Car in week four. It grossed an estimated $46,200 on 27 screens, for a per-screen average of $1,711 and a new cume of $219,382. This weekend the film also celebrated awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Film and Best Screenplay as well as a runner-up for Best Director, adding to its growing list of critics’ awards including Best Film from New York Film Critics Circle and Boston Society of Film Critics. It will expand over the next six weeks with over 70 additional runs.
A24’s Red Rocket from Sean Baker, which opened last weekend, grossed $80,760 on 165 screens for a cume of $198,895 and a PSA of $5,047. The film stars Simon Rex as a washed up porn star returning to his Texas hometown, which doesn’t want him there.
Utopia’s The Scary of Sixty-First, a horror-satire about Jeffrey Epstein, clocked an estimated $10,379 gross and PSA of $3,460 in week 3 at three theaters, with a cume of $20,656. It added the Quad in NYC (a few miles from the ongoing Ghislaine Maxwell trial) to its two LA locations.
Working back, Neon’s unique animated documentary Flee in its third week made $5,064 on seven screens, a $723 PSA and cume close to $48,000.
Licorice Pizza from United Artists Releasing took in an estimated $89,175 on four screens in week 4 for a PSA of $22,294 and a cume of $1.29M ahead of a major holiday expansion.
In week five, C’mon C’mon from A24 grossed $38,891 on 102 screens for a PSA of $381 and a cume to date of $1.77M.
Focus Features’ Belfast is onto week six continuing in 207 theaters with a three-day estimate of $ 75,000 and cume of $6.8 million.
And Spencer from Neon racked up $12,753 on 40 screens for a cume of $7.076M and a PSA of $319.
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