It’s no secret that the box office space has been struggling to find life during the pandemic — and it seems to be even more difficult for the specialty box office space. As specialty films try to navigate the space by shifting to PVOD, digital, and virtual openings, some distributors continue to brave the landscape of shuttered theaters and strategize theatrical releases to keep the specialty box office afloat.
Neon’s buzzy Oscar offering Ammonite is the the most noticeable specialty box office title that was released in theaters this weekend. The period romance, written and directed by Francis Lee and starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, debuted on 280 screens this weekend, earning an estimated cume of $85,000, with a per-screen average of $304.
The film sits at a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned the most on Saturday, with an estimated $32,000. Considering COVID-19 cases are spiking across the country, cinephiles are probably extra cautious when deciding whether or not to enter a theater. That said, the movie will be available on PVOD on December 4.
It’s pretty much the same story of the Sony Pictures Classics bromantic comedy The Climb, from director/co-writer/actor Michael Angelo Covino. Its theater count is considerably higher than Ammonite, as it played in 408 theaters, delivering an estimated box office debut of $103.5K, with a per-theater average of $254. Perhaps the Cannes film was hoping that its 91% certified fresh feature would be a draw to audiences. But again, moviegoers don’t seem to be cavalier about sitting in a theater. No word yet on when the pic will hit digital and PVOD.
Titles under the Sony Pictures umbrella seem to be a mixed bag when it comes to what will be released in theaters and what will drop on PVOD and digital. Bigger titles like The Craft: Legacy that would seem to offer more of a “theatrical experience” opted for a PVOD release, while Diane Paragas’ more indie-feeling musical drama Yellow Rose from Stage 6 hit 900 theaters in its opening weekend to earn a little over $150K. Part of me wonders what kind of money The Craft: Legacy would have made if they paired it with the original Craft for a double-feature drive-in experience at select locations during Halloween.
Brenda Chapman (Pixar’s Brave) made her live-action directing debut with Come Away this weekend. The imaginative take on the origin story of Peter Pan and Alice from Alice in Wonderland debuted on demand and had 475 runs in 126 markets. The pic, which stars David Oyelowo, Angelina Jolie, and Gugu Mbatha Raw, raked in $108K with an average of $227 per location. The numbers for the Relativity Media film are nothing to get excited over. However, like the other films opening in theaters this weekend, it’s expected, considering the landscape.
Rounding out specialty titles released in theaters this weekend is the Saban Films pic Fatman, written and directed by Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms and starring Mel Gibson. The Santa Claus comedy opened on 259 screens and earned an estimated $108K, with a per-screen average of $417.
As Anthony reported, the Kevin Costner and Diane Lane-fronted thriller Let Him Go is currently at number 2 at the box office in its second week of release, while the the horror Come Play has landed at the number 4 spot in its third week of release.
Let Him Go is currently playing in 2,458 theaters and earned an estimated $1.8 million this weekend, bringing its cume to $7 million. Come Play is in 1,966 theaters, adding an estimated $1.1 million to its box office till to bring its cume to $7.3 million. New COVID-related restrictions have closed all theaters in some international territories where the film had previously opened, so Come Play will resume its run when those safety restrictions are lifted.
Other noteworthy titles in the specialty space that are still moving along in theaters include the RLJE Films horror The Dark and the Wicked. In its second weekend of release, it grossed an estimated $32,604 on 31 screens for an average of $1,052 per screen and a new estimated cume of $110,865. 101 Studios continues its run for The War With Grandpa. The family comedy starring Robert De Niro is staying afloat, playing in 2,145 locations. It earned $1.3 million in its sixth weekend of release, with a location average of $618. This brings its estimated cume of $15.2 million.
Ammonite (Neon) – Week 1 [280 Theaters] Weekend $85,000; Average $304
The Climb (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 1 [408 Theaters] Weekend $103,500; Average $254
Come Away (Relativity) – Week 1 [475 Theaters] Weekend $108,000; Average $227
Fatman (Saban Films) – Week 1 [259 Screens] Weekend $108,000; Average $417
Let Him Go (Focus Features) – Week 2 [2,458 Theaters] Weekend $1,800,000; Average $732; Cume $7,000,000
The Dark and the Wicked (RLJE Films) – Week 2 [31 Screens] Weekend $32,604; Average $1,052; Cume $110,865
The War With Grandpa (101 Studios) – Week 6 [2,145 Theaters] Weekend $1,300,000; Average $618; Cume $15,200,000