The Danish-made “The Holy Spider” Iranian noir film had a strong exclusive Manhattan debut in an otherwise uneven specialized weekend.
Five specialized films (broadly defined) are among the top 13 grossing titles this weekend, including three in the top 10: “Till”(United Artists) , “Terrifier 2” (Iconic), and “TÁR” (Focus). That’s the good news, with continued strong access to a large number of theaters to maximize the grosses.
Less good news: Most of the grosses run far below past comparable films.
James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” the week’s biggest new platform release, could manage only $72,000 in six theaters. Given decent reviews, its director, and a cast that includes Anne Hathaway and Anthony Hopkins, that’s disappointing. The 1980s coming-of-age story had six top New York/Los Angeles theaters.
“Holy Spider” (Utopia), a Danish-produced film about an Iranian serial killer, had an impressive $17,000 opening at New York’s IFC Center. That shows (at least initially) a less-commercial title can success with niche/genre appeal.
At the other extreme, “Call Me” (Roadside Attractions), a timely pro-choice story with Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver could only muster $241,000 in 1,070 theaters. That’s a $225 PTA.
The gap for specialized titles is far greater than the 35-40 percent lag among studio film totals. Enough data exists to suggest that the specialized market is lagging 60 percent or more behind would have been anticipated by 2019 standards.
“Till” and “Terrifier” are exceptions that prove the rule because their relative strength comes from expanding the traditional definition of the specialized audience.
This has become increasingly true in recent years, as “Everything Everywhere All at Once” showed in both its younger and significantly Asian-American appeal. Similarly, “Terrifier 2” is appealing to genre fans, not art-house patrons. (It ranked #8 this weekend with $7.6 million so far).
“Till,” a drama reenacting the murder of the martyred Emmett Till and its 1955 trial, did $2.8 million in 2,058 theaters, the widest release so far among limited openers. That got it to #7 with a PTA of $1,366 — hardly impressive, but higher than any from other recent releases playing in fewer theaters. With its A+ Cinemascore (polled this weekend), the depth of the release should give the film an elevated push to keep it alive in the upcoming weeks.
“The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight) can claim the best second-weekend expansion PTA this fall at $9,310, for $540,000 in 58 theaters. That’s a positive sign for Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed Irish period film heading into further play with 800 playdates next week.
Comparisons to past similar films don’t get much closer than to the director’s own “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” exactly four years ago. In 53 theaters, it grossed $1.1 million, twice as much, for a $20,975 PTA. And in 2018, tickets cost around 75 percent of what they do today, which means “Banshees” saw something closer to 60 percent fewer customers.
“Banshees” has gotten even better reviews than “Billboards,” but the falloff is consistent with the decrease in the traditional, older, big-city core specialized audience.
Some other comparisons: “Ladybird” in November 2018 grossed $1.2 million its second weekend in 37 theaters. In 2o19, “The Lighthouse,” a bleak, black-and-white film with two well-known actors managed $3 million in 586 theaters for an over $5,000 PTA.
“TÁR” in its fourthweekend jumped to 1,087 theaters for just over $1 million, a $938 PTA. Cate Blanchett is a strong contender for Best Actress awards. Among indie titles in recent years that provided Oscar winners in that category were “Room” and “Still Alice” — films that, with adjusted gross, made somewhere in the $20 million range. “TÁR” looks unlikely to hit $5 million.
“Triangle of Sadness” (Neon) is expanding more slowly, but still is in 610 theaters. With $549,000 it also failed to hit $1,000 per theater, with a $2.3 million total so far.
“Aftersun” (A24) in its second weekend jumped to 17 theaters and $75,242. This independent British drama has scored the best reviews on any film released so far this year. Its $4,426 PTA for this still-limited run puts in it line with what the market seems able to do at the moment.
MUBI didn’t report any grosses for the third weekend of “Decision to Leave.” The South Korean film, in an unusually aggressive expansion for a subtitled release, per sources grossed around $255,000 in 133 theaters for about $1,900 each. Not great, but some indie theaters have decent numbers.
No numbers as expected were reported for the soon to be streaming (on Apple) “Causeway” with Jennifer Lawrence or “Is It Black Enough for You?!?” (Netflix), as well as for Hong Sang-soo’s “The Novelist’s Song” (Cinema Guild) and “Please Baby Please” (Music Box).
Films are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week:
Armageddon Time (Focus) NEW – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, New York 2022
$72,000 in 6 theaters; PTA: $12,000
Call Jane (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin 2022
$240,755 in 1,070 theaters; PTA: $225
Holy Spider (Utopia) NEW – Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto 2022
$17,086 in 1 theater; PTA: $17,086
The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight) Week 2
$540,000 in 59 (+55) theaters; PTA: $9,310; Cumulative: $790,760
Aftersun (A24) Week 2
$75,242 in 17 (+14) theaters; PTA: $4,426; Cumulative: $166,030
All That Breathes (Submarine Deluxe/Sideshow) Week 2
$7,118 in 2 (+1) theaters; PTA: $3,559; Cumulative: $18,076
Till (United Artists) Week 3
$2,811,000 in 2,058 (+1,954) theaters; PTA: $1,366; Cumulative: $3,637,000
Decision to Leave (MUBI) Week 3
$(est.) 255,000 in 133 (+95) theaters; PTA: $1,911; Cumulative: $(est.) 800,000
Cat Daddies (Gray Hat) Week 3
$8,000 in 4 (+1) theaters; Cumulative: $37,135
Terrifier 2 (Cinedigm/Iconic) Week 4
$ in 1,550 (+795) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $
TÁR (Focus) Week 4
$1,020,000 in 1,087 (+946) theaters; PTA: $938,000; Cumulative: $2,500,000
Triangle of Sadness (Neon) Week 4
$549,000 in 610 (+330) theaters; PTA: $900; Cumulative: $2,281,000
Terrifier 2 (Cinedigm/Iconic) Week 4
$1,803,000 in 1,550 (+795) theaters; PTA: $1,164; Cumulative: $7,638,000
See How They Run (Searchlight) Week 7
$24,000 in 160 (-120) theaters; Cumulative: $9,576,000
Moonage Daydream (Neon) Week 7
$20,000 in 52 (-34) theaters; Cumulative: $4,200,000