What a weekend. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight full-on smashed the Specialty box office with the year’s best opening per theater average, grossing $414,740 in four theaters. Michael Moore in TrumpLand came out of nowhere and opened Wednesday in two theaters, grabbing the year’s best PTA for a non-fiction title with $25K. Magnolia’s Korean thriller The Handmaiden would easily have grabbed the headline in any other weekend, with its $91,600 bow in five theaters. And for more weekend brag, Janus Films’ re-release of Tampopo (1985) grossed $17,200 in a single location. IFC Midnight bowed King Cobra in an exclusive run, grossing $9,500, while Kino Lorber opened Italy’s foreign-language Oscar submission Fire at Sea taking $11,350 in 2 locations. Drafthouse Films opened doc We Are X in L.A. to $8,300. And The Orchard’s summer hit Hunt for The Wilderpeople has grossed $1.27 million in its on-demand release.
A24’s Moonlight wooed festival-goers in Telluride, Toronto and New York, and its seductions have clearly carried over into its theatrical release. Directed and written by Barry Jenkins from a semi-autobiographical story by playwright Tarell McCraney, Moonlight sizzled $414,740 in four theaters, averaging $103,685. That is the best per theater average of 2016, outranking Don’t Think Twice, which opened in July with a $92,835 average in a single location. Only 26 titles have crossed the $100K-PTA mark during their opening weekend, and Moonlight is one of them. Moonlight‘s $100K-plus PTA ranks A24’s The Lobster bowed in May grossing over $190K in four locations ($47,562 average). Fox Searchlight’s The Revenant by Alejandro González Iñárritu had the highest PTA of 2015, slightly outpacing with a $118,640 PTA in its debut in four theaters Christmas day. Searchlight also had the 2014 winner with Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which opened in four theaters in March of that year, grossing over $811K in its opening weekend, averaging $202,792.
Moonlight has already been trumpeted for Oscar watch and was nominated for Gotham Awards this past week, including Best Feature. Its opening weekend at the box office can only solidify its mojo. Among A24’s New York-Los Angeles bows (which typically number two-five locations in their opening weekend), Moonlight is a record. “[This is] an unheard of number for a film with a relatively new director and no big stars. Fueled by unprecedented reviews — 99% on RottenTomatoes and 99% on Metacritic — the Oscar contender sold out in all theaters throughout the weekend,”said A24’s Heath Shapiro.
Moonlight also ranks atop A24’s best PTA openers. Its 2013 release Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine grossed $263K in its bow in March of that year, averaging $87,667 and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina opened in April 2015, also in four locations, grossing over $237K, averaging $59,316. A24 will take Moonlight to additional markets next weekend ahead of going wide November 4.
Michael Moore’s October Surprise Michael Moore in TrumpLand was both 2016’s best non-fiction debut theatrically and number one on iTunes in the U.S., Canada and Germany. Theatrically, it grossed $50,200 in two locations in New York and Los Angeles, averaging $25,100, topping Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, which opened after the Republican Convention in July, grossing $74,814 in three locations ($24,938 average). Considering TrumpLand went on-demand and had free tickets for a special Tuesday night preview this past week, that is even more impressive.
TrumpLand is being released through Moore’s Dog Eat Dog Films as well as IMG Films. In a statement released today, Moore said, “Without the benefit of an advertising campaign, with no press junket, no distributor, no trailer, no poster, no festival launch, and no one even knowing the film existed 24 hours before it was released, this record-breaking weekend, both theatrically and on iTunes, has stunned even me. What I’m not surprised about is that there is a large audience of Americans seeking to make some sense out of and have a few laughs over this bizarre election.”
In addition to its availability on iTunes in the U.S., TrumpLand will air on October 30 on TV channels in the UK, Australia and others.
Moore’s Where to Invade Next opened in February, grossing over $897K in its opening weekend, though it bowed in 308 theaters ($2,912 average). It went on to gross over $3.82 million. Moore still holds the highest box office for a non-fiction title with Fahrenheit 9/11, which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes back in 2004. The feature grossed nearly $119.2 million in North America.
Amazon and Magnolia opened Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden in five theaters with a robust start, grossing $91,600, averaging $18,320. Magnolia noted that its 145 minute running time only allowed for “one prime evening show [per day] which likely limited” its gross this weekend.
Added Amazon’s head of Marketing and Distribution Bob Berney Sunday: “We never had a doubt that Director Park’s phenomenal film would find an audience. We are really pleased with the opening and look forward to rolling the film out nationwide.”
Other openers were left in the wake, but some nevertheless had solid debuts. Janus Films re-released Tampopo, a comedy by Japanese filmmaker-actor Jûzo Itami, exclusively at Film Forum in New York, grossing $17,200. The number adds itself to a weekend of record-breakers, holding the title of best repertory opener of the year.
“It’s no surprise that Tampopo, one of the most popular movies we have ever released, has lost none of its power to pack houses,” said Peter Becker, president of the Criterion Collection and Partner in Janus Films Sunday. “It’s the ultimate food fantasy, still stunningly original, hilarious, and pleasurable, and it makes passionate fans of nearly everyone who sees it, so we expect amazing word of mouth and a very strong run at Film Forum and all across the country.”
IFC Midnight opened the gay porn & murder drama King Cobra starring James Franco, Garrett Clayton and Christian Slater in an exclusive run grossing $9,600. It will go to L.A. next weekend and expand to the top 20 markets through November. Drafthouse Films opened Stephen Kijak’s music doc We Are X exclusively in Los Angeles, grossing $8,300, it will head to San Francisco and Austin next week, followed by New York. Kino Lorber opened Fire At Sea, Italy’s foreign language Oscar entry in 2 locations, grossing $11,350 ($5,675 average). Pure Flix opened the weekend’s “widest” limited release, I’m Not Ashamed, grossing $900 K ($1,782 average). Ti West’s latest, In a Valley of Violence with Ethan Hawke and Karen Gillian launched in 33 theaters, taking in $30K ($909 average).
IFC Films added 36 runs for Sundance’s Certain Women by Kelly Reichardt starring Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart in its second frame. The title grossed $157,850, averaging $3,850 for a $243,850 cume. Last weekend, Certain Women grossed $65,230, averaging $13,046, the second best PTA of the weekend. The topper last week was The Orchard’s Christine, which added 11 locations in its second weekend. The feature grossed $37,810 in a dozen theaters, averaging $3,151. Last week it grossed just over $14K in a single run. STX added 95 locations for the second weekend of Desierto starring Gael García Bernal. Directed by Jonás Cuarón, it grossed $474K in 168 theaters, averaging $2,821 ($450K in 73 theaters in week one, averaging $6,164).
Music Box added 18 theaters for Sweden’s Oscar entry A Man Called Ove in its fourth frame, grossing $262,770 for a $2,737 average. It has cumed over $802K. And The Orchard said its on-demand cume for Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Taika Waititi has now cumed $1.27 million, adding to its $5.19 million theatrical gross. The feature played in 20 locations it its 18th weekend, grossing $14,858.
American Pastoral (Lionsgate) NEW [50 Theaters] Weekend $151K, Average $3,020
Fire At Sea (Kino Lorber) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $11,350, Average $5,675
The Handmaiden (Amazon/Magnolia) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $91,600, Average $18,320
King Cobra (IFC Midnight) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $9,500
Michael Moore in TrumpLand (Dog Eat Dog Films/IMG Films) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $50,200, Average $25,100, Cume $64,247 (Wed. Open)
In A Valley of Violence (Focus World) NEW [33 Theaters] Weekend $30K, Average $909
I’m Not Ashamed (Pure Flix) NEW [505 Theaters] Weekend $900K, Average $1,782
Moonlight (A24) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $414,740, Average $103,685
Tampopo (Janus Films) NWE (re-release) [1 Theater] Weekend $17,200
The Uncondemned (Abramorama) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $5,146
We Are X (Drafthouse Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $8,300
Aquarius (Vitagraph) Week 2 [17 Theaters] Weekend $55K, Average $3,236, Cume $95,788
Certain Women (IFC Films) Week 2 [41 Theaters] Weekend $157,850, Average $3,850, Cume $243,850
Christine (The Orchard) Week 2 [12 Theater] Weekend $37,810, Average $3,151, Cume $57,126
Desierto (STX Entertainment) Week 2 [168 Theaters] Weekend $474K, Average $2,821, Cume $1.12M
Miss Hokusai (GKIDS) Week 2 [84 Theaters] Weekend $71,299, Average $849, Cume $105,459
Tower (Kino Lorber) Week 2 [3 Theaters] Weekend $14,303, Average $4,768, Cume $37,641
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
The Greasy Strangler (FilmRise) Week 3 [1 Theaters] Weekend $1,100, Cume $39,132
Miss Hokusai (GKIDS) Week 2 [84 Theaters] Weekend $71,299, Average $849, Cume $105,459
Denial (Bleecker Street) Week 4 [648 Theaters] Weekend $972,940, Average $1,501, Cume $1,990,260
Harry & Snowman (FilmRise) Week 4 [24 Theaters] Weekend $42K, Average $1,750, Cume $220,583
A Man Called Ove (Music Box Films) Week 4 [96 Theaters] Weekend $262,770, Average $2,737, Cume $802,490
The Dressmaker (Broad Green Pictures) Week 5 [103 Theaters] Weekend $115,348, Average $1,120, Cume $1,561,490
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (Abramorama) Week 6 [82 Theaters] Weekend $69,930, Average $ 853, Cume $2,687,449
Demon (The Orchard) Week 6 [3 Theaters] Weekend $927, Average $309, Cume $99,686
No Manches Frida (Lionsgate/Pantelion) Week 8 [37 Theaters] Weekend $29K, Average $784, Cume $11,461,379
The Hollars (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [45 Theaters] Weekend $11,892, Average $264, Cume $997,391
Hell Or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate) Week 11 [87 Theaters] Weekend $93K Average $1,069, Cume $26,657,772
Don’t Think Twice (The Film Arcade) Week 15 [25 Theaters] Weekend $30,393, Average $1,216, Cume $4,334,994
Hunt For The Wilderpeople (The Orchard) Week 18 [20 Theaters] Weekend $14,858, Average $743, Cume $5,190,473; Digital $1.27M