‘Fear’, ‘Infinity Pool’, ‘Skinamarink’ Scare Up Cash In Indie Horror Bonanza – Specialty Box Office

Even on a specialty level, horror just works post-pandemic with the latest pop from a strong showing by a trio of films, Fear and Infinity Pool, released this weekend, and Skinamarink in week three.

Fear hails from Deon and Roxanne Avent Taylor’s Hidden Empire Film Group, the all-Black production company behind cult hit Meet The Blacks (2016) and The House Next Door: Meet The Blacks 2, released into a shaky theatrical marketplace in June of 2021 that made nearly $3 million U.S. Fear, directed by Deon Taylor, was self-distributed by Hidden Empire Releasing on 974 screens, opening to an estimated $1.28 million for a per-screen average of $1,315. The breakdown: Fri: $466.9k (includes $132k in Thursday sneaks); Sat: $504k; Sun: estimated $310k.

Shows were sold out in key markets across the country including LA, New York, Sacramento, Atlanta, Miami, DC, and Chicago. The 50% increase from Friday to Saturday, not including Thursday previews, shows strong word of mouth with the film’s core audiences.

“I made the film out of fear,” Deon Taylor told Deadline last week. It was filmed during Covid, “when the world was shut down. I was nervous for my life, my kids’ lives. And there was the unrest of George Floyd being killed on camera. ‘As an artist I’ve got to do something,’ I told Roxanne. ‘I have an idea… a horror film. An elevated psychologic horror film.’ It’s lit up social media in an amazing way.”

In the pic, a group of friends gather for a much-needed weekend getaway at a remote and historic hotel but celebration turns to terror as, one by one, each faces their own worst fear.

Marking efforts kicked off Jan. 9 with a Santa Monica event called Overcome: Facing Fear with a live audience streamed on YouTube and Instagram. CNN’s Van Jones moderated the exploration of fear with panelists NBA champion Scottie Pippen, 50-0 boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather, actress Ruby Modine, and Dean and Roxanne Taylors and guests including Dennis Quaid, Joseph Sikora, Master P, Tip “T.i.” Harris, Boris Kodjoe, Quincy Brown, Michael Jai White and Sean Garrett.

“We are passionate about independent films, and Fear is a great example of why we started Hidden Empire Releasing,” said the Taylors. “Giving indie-budgeted films a level of creative support they can’t find at a big studio — from development to distribution — is our mission, and we are excited to see Fear connect with audiences everywhere.”

Neon’s horror-thriller Infinity Pool by Brandon Cronenberg opened on 1,835 screens to an estimated $2.72 million. Breakdown: Friday, $1.13 million; Sat., $910k; Sunday est. $685k – for a $1,485 PSA. This premiered at Sundance last weekend with an NC-17 cut — it seemed like the film may have been gunning for the NC-17 theatrical record – but it came out with a R-rated release. A couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Cleopatra Coleman) are led into all kinds of creepiness by a seductive and mysterious stranger (Mia Goth) on an isolated island resort.

Meanwhile, Skinamarink, from IFC Midnight/Shudder, which cost $15k to make, will end the weekend with an estimated $1.86 million cume in week three on 275 screens. Estimated weekend gross is $124k. The viral horror pic, a first feature by Kyle Edward Ball that premiered back at Fantasia-fest, shows two children waking up in the middle of the night to find their father missing and that all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. It’s a nightmare of his, and, apparently, many others.

Other specialty openings: A24’s Oscar-nominated Close by Lukas Dhont grossed a strong $68k on four screens in NY and LA. The film, which premiered at Cannes, expands selectively into additional top markets next weekend and will continue to roll out thereafter.

Sony Pictures Classics One Fine Morning grossed $14,282 on three screens for a per screen average of $4,761 and a cume of $23,976.

Maybe I Do from Vertical Entertainment grossed an estimated $562k on 465 screens for a PSA of $1,209. The multigenerational romantic comedy by Michael Jacobs stars Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey and William H. Macy  

Holdovers/expansions: SPC’s The Son, in week two. grossed $32,174 on 172 screens (last week 554) for a cume of $409,952.

A24’s The Whale racked up $1 million this weekend with a cume of $14.9 million, as it continues a long theatrical run throughout Awards Season after Brandon Fraser’s Best Actor Oscor nomination.

And the distributor’s much-nominated juggernaut Everything Everywhere All At Once returned to theaters (1,400 locations), grossing $1 million – and crossing $71 million in North America.

Searchlight Pictures boosted Martin McDonagh’s award-magnet The Banshees of Inisherin to 1,205 theaters grossing $353k for the weekend for a cume of $9.8 million.

Likewise, UAR boosted Tár‘s domestic theatrical footprint to 537 runs, grossing an estimated $173k, which brings the film’s domestic cume to $6.15M. The Cate Blanchett-starrer by Tod Field debuted on Peacock in the U.S. this weekend.

Sideshow/Janus Films’ release of EO grossed an estimated $45,300 on 64 screens in its 11th weekend for a per-screen average of $708 and a new cume of $829,530.

Also from Sideshow/Janus Films, Jafar Panahi’s No Bears grossed an estimated $10,800 on 10 screens in its 6th weekend for a per-screen average of $1,080 and a new cume of $103,476.

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