Specialty Box Office: ‘Begin Again’ Begins On High Note; ‘America,’ ‘Snowpiercer,’ ‘YSL’ Solid

It’s no way a shock that Transformers: Age Of Extinction performed spectacularly this weekend, both in the U.S. and overseas, but there are still discerning audiences out there who don’t toe the big-studio line when it comes to their movie-viewing decisions. Begin Again, another tuneful tale from the writer-director of Once, found a sliver of music-minded moviegoers to play along, grabbing the weekend’s highest PTA among newcomers. Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine, it grossed more than $148K for a respectable $29,665 average.

“I think that’s solid numbers. We view this exclusive opening as a preview for Wednesday’s [expansion],” said TWC’s Erik Lomis, president of theatrical distribution and home entertainment. The film drew a heavily female audience, with a 67-33 gender split, and a mix of art-house and commercial crowds. “I think it’s a date movie and will even out as it rolls across the country,”  Lomis said. “[Women] just loved the movie.” TWC will expand Begin Again to 175 theaters in the top 45 markets, then add 60 more markets and up to 500 theaters the following week. “We love (writer-director) John Carney and the cast. There’s no explosions or anything like that. It’s a nice movie and counter programming for the summer.”

Yves Saint Laurent movie poster verticalThe distributor also bowed French-language film Yves Saint Laurent in a pair of theaters, grossing $24,502 for a $12,251 PTA. Interestingly, with Gay Pride events scheduled across the country this weekend, specialty distribs didn’t load up this weekend with a bounty of gay-related newcomers as they have in past years, though movies may not be on the top of everyone’s pride party agenda. TWC will continue to roll out YSL to other markets, targeting “strictly an art-house” crowd, according to Lomis.

TWC’s brethren label RADiUS bowed Bong Joon-ho‘s sci-fi drama Snowpiercer with 8 runs this weekend following a sold out pre-launch event in Austin in addition to screenings at Brooklyn’s BAMcinemaFest with Jong in attendance, followed the next day in Manhattan at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The film starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, John Hurt and Jamie Bell grossed over $162K, averaging over $20K. The take includes $4,490 from a midweek event with Alamo Drafthouse in Austin in which audiences took a train ride (tying in with the film’s plot) outside the capital along with a screening. “There’s no stopping this train,” said RADiUS’ co-president Tom Quinn on Sunday. “With some of the best reviews of the year and incredibly strong word-of-mouth, we’re looking forward to a robust holiday expansion.”

America the Movie poster verticalLionsgate opened doc America from the same filmmaking duo that created the 2012 anti-Obama doc 2016: Obama’s America to the world. The latest feature opened in three theaters, grossing a moderate $39K ($13K PTA), though it should be noted that 2016 also opened rather under the radar, only to become the fourth-highest grossing U.S. documentary ever, raking in a cool $33.4M. America took in $26K in Houston and $13K Atlanta this weekend. A release came out Sunday from the rep of co-directors Dinesh D’Souza and Gerald R. Molen: “We are very happy that so many people are turning out to see our film and are grateful to our wonderful partner Lionsgate for this debut,” said D’Souza via the release. “After the success of 2016, I knew there was an audience that wanted to be proud of our country and see a film that took an honest look at how this country came to be and where we go from here.  We’re grateful to our friends in Atlanta and Houston for their strong support.” America will head to around 1,000 theaters next week.

Joe Berlinger’s Sundance doc Whitey: United States Of America V. James J. Bulger bowed at IFC Center in NYC and two Boston-area locations with so-so numbers on the theatrical side. It grossed $14K, for a $4,667 PTA. The film, however, was the No. 1 documentary on iTunes, which makes one wonder why they don’t want to tout those figures more (among much else). At any rate, Whitey will head to the Royal in LA (only a few miles from where Bulger was captured after nearly two decades in hiding) and several other North American locations over the 4th of July weekend, adding additional markets throughout July and August.

Sundance doc The Internet’s Own Boy opened in a dozen locations via FilmBuff and Participant, grossing over $24K for a slow $2K-plus PTA. It will open in 10 more cities in coming weeks with more rollouts planned from there. FilmBuff exec Janet Brown told me earlier this week: “We are releasing day-and-date with digital, which we felt was unquestionably the best way…” Given the doc’s subject, that’s indeed unquestionable: it’s about tech wunderkind Aaron Swartz, who became an online cause celebre after the federal government charged him with felonies for downloading millions of academic articles through the M.I.T. library. Swartz, 26 and long battling depression, killed himself after his family spent millions of dollars trying to defend him from the charges that would have brought a steep prison sentence. Separately, we hope that FilmBuff/Cinetic/John Sloss will give up the digital and VOD numbers when they’re available.

Also opening was The Breakup Guru from China Lion. That film grossed $67K for a $5,583 PTA. It hit Chinese-language population centers in CA this weekend and will head to NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Vancouver, and Toronto in the coming weeks.

NEW

America (Lionsgate) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $39K, Average $13K

Begin Again (The Weinstein Company) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $148,325, Average $29,665

The Breakup Guru (China Lion) NEW [12 Theaters] Weekend $67K, Average $5,583

The Internet’s Own Boy (FilmBuff/Participant Media) NEW [12 Theaters] Weekend $24,301, Average $2,025

Snowpiercer (RADiUS-TWC) NEW [8 Theaters] Weekend $162,127, Average $20,266

Whitey: United States Of America V. James J. Bulger (Magnolia Pictures) Weekend $14K, Average $4,667

Yves Saint Laurent (The Weinstein Company) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $24,502, $12,251, Cume $36,156

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND 

Le Chef (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [19 Theater] Weekend $34K, Average $1,829, Cume $54,816

Coherence (Oscilloscope) Week 2 [4 Theaters] Weekend $13K, Average $3,375, Cume $34,729

The Last Sentence (Music Box Films) Week 2 [6 Theaters] Weekend $10K, Average $1,667, $24,177

Third Person (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [18 Theaters] Weekend $80,654, Average $4,481, Cume $136,384

Venus In Fur (Sundance Selects) Week 2 [10 Theaters] Weekend $28K, Average $2,800, Cume $68,890

Code Black (Long Shot Factory) Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $21K, Average $10,952, Cume $32,759

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS

A Coffee In Berlin (Music Box Films) Week 3 [10 Theaters] Weekend $24K, Average $2,400, Cume $52,949

The Rover (A24) Week 3 [247 Theaters] Weekend $100,596, Average $407, Cume $979,903

The Signal (Focus Features) Week 3 [180 Theaters] Weekend $67K, Average $372, Cume $553,288

Obvious Child (A24) Week 4 [196 Theaters] Weekend $555,595, Average $2,835, Cume $1,285,225

Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon (RADiUS-TWC) Week 4 [31 Theaters] Weekend $,21,932 Average $707, Cume $173,639

The Grand Seduction (Entertainment One) Week 5 [ Theaters] Weekend $, Average $, Cume $

Korengal (Saboteur Media) Week 5 [11 Theaters] Weekend $19,450, Average $1,768, Cume $55,220

Words And Pictures (Roadside Attractions) Week 6 [105 Theaters] Weekend $135,400, Average $1,290, Cume $1,730,762

Chinese Puzzle (Cohen Media Group) Week 7 [14 Theaters] Weekend $11,315, Average $808, Cume $310,039

Chef (Open Road Films) Week 8 [801 Theaters] Weekend $1.654M, Average $2,065, Cume $19,410,050

Fed Up (RADiUS-TWC) Week 8 [32 Theaters] Weekend $23,411, Average $731, Cume $1,453,386

Palo Alto (Tribeca Film) Week 8 [9 Theaters] Weekend $5,681, Average $631, Cume $750,112

Belle (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [175 Theaters] Weekend $241K, Average $1,377, Cume $9,641,192

Ida (Music Box Films) Week 9 [127 Theaters] Weekend $248K, Average $1,953, Cume $2,471,863

Fading Gigolo (Millennium Entertainment) Week 11 [24 Theaters] Weekend $23,029, Average $960, Cume $3,712,436

The Unknown Known (RADiUS-TWC) Week 13 [1 Theater] Weekend $425, Cume $276,381

Finding Vivian Maier (Sundance Selects) Week 14 [6 Theaters] Weekend $5,520, Average $920, Cume $1,453,920

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 17 [90 Theaters] Weekend $120K, Average $1,333, Cume $58,550,341