Breakout ‘St. Vincent’ Holding Strong As Tentpoles Loom

As Interstellar and Big Hero 6 are set to face off in what will be a huge box office weekend, a little picture from The Weinstein Co. is planting its flag. St. Vincent, which has had a platform release, is looking like it could end up the No. 3 indie movie of the year, only behind Freestyle Releasing’s God’s Not Dead ($60.75M+) Fox Searchlight’s The Grand Budapest Hotel ($59M). Open Road’s Chef currently stands as the No. 2 film with $31.4M to date. With a terrific hold last weekend (it only dropped 7%), it also had one of the smallest drops this year for a film in wide release, second only to Freestyle Releasing’s God’s Not Dead (-4.5% in its second frame). St. Vincent is on the verge of becoming only the third indie to roll over the $20M mark (again Budapest and Chef). With an A- CinemaScore, word of mouth has been giving it strong legs that should allow a run right up to Thanksgiving. It’s doing well in mid-week grosses.

The film, which stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, newcomer Jaedue Lieberher, Naomi Watts and scene-stealer Chris O’Dowd, opened on October 10th and is receiving Oscar buzz (as it should). “We dropped the picture on that date and then accelerated the rollout to go wide on the 24th, based on terrific word of mouth and an opportunity we saw in the marketplace,” said Erik Lomis, president distribution and home entertainment for The Weinstein Co.

The Capra-esque film about ordinary people who end up as a saints for each other was directed by Ted Melfi. “I’ve had saints my whole life,” the director told Deadline. “I really wanted to tell the story of a boy who showed a man his worth.” The distributor has relied on critical reviews, festivals (it won the Audience Award in Aspen and was a hit when it debuted in Toronto), and digitial marketing to get the word out.

Melfi first got Murray aboard and then really wanted to cast McCarthy. He presented the casting idea to Harvey Weinstein who had fallen in love with the script (as did the distribs’ David Glasser and Dylan Sellars). “Harvey and the studio thought I was crazy when I suggested her.” They told him to get McCarthy to audition for the role. “So I asked, would you audition? And she said, ‘fuck, yeah.’ They looked at her audition and Harvey said, you were right and I was wrong. She won the part by winning over Harvey.”

McCarthy gave a wonderfully restrained performance, directed very well by Melfi, who made his feature film directorial debut on the drama/comedy. The trailer for St. Vincent was put in front of the McCarthy comedy Tammy on the 4th of July. To promote it, Melfi, McCarthy, and Murray set out to promote it. Murray won extra kudos as he worked extremely hard to promote the film in interviews, talk shows, and other appearances. “We aggressively screened the film around the country and Ted did a lot of Q&As,” said Lomis. The result? The Weinstein Co. has yet another Oscar-worthy film on its hands.

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