Movies

Smaller Films Hit April Doldrums – Specialty Box Office

This weekend was the first in some time without a specialty film in the top ten as wide releases ramp up from Civil War to Abigail and hang in theaters as per Kung Fu Panda 4 and Dune: Part Two — in weeks 7 and 8, respectively. One distributor calls late April a bit of a dumping ground for indies – no judgement on the films but in the sense that there are a bunch of them and they can sometimes struggle to find audiences — calling this an anomalous weekend after a spring dotted with breakout titles. IFC’s Late Night With The Devil ($9.7 million cume); A24’s Love Lives Bleeding ($7.8 million); Bleecker Street’s One Life ($4.5 million); Sony Pictures Classics’ Wicked Little Letters ($3.6 million) all did great and indies overall are taking bigger swings – with Civil War (A24) one of the biggest.   

Comscore’s April sked shows a flood of limited releases in theaters before the start of the blockbuster summer movie season, which kicks off with The Fall Guy on May 3.

“The home stretch of April this year is as expected a rather quiet corridor for sheer box office revenue, but a crowded one for limited releases,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian, noting another 18 limited release titles set for next weekend.

That said, Neon’s Stress Positions had a solid $28k opening at one location, the IFC Center in New York. The film by Theda Hammel stars Qaher Harhash as a queer Moroccan-American model sidelined by a broken leg and recovering at his uncle’s apartment in Brooklyn who becomes the focal point of a cast of eccentric characters. Adds LA next week with a limited regional expansion to follow.

Sasquatch Sunset from Bleecker Street will see $453k in its second weekend on 856 screens (up from 9) for a cume of $566k for the film by Nathan and David Zellner. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek and Nathan Zellner as a Bigfoot tribe fighting for survival in the misty forests of North America. It’s unusual, absurdist and dialogue-free, and was a gamble — it could well have been big and the one to claim the weekend, or a somewhat tough sell with a wider audience. Liked by critics, it’s at a 38% (under 50 verified ratings) with polarized auds on Rotten Tomatoes.  

Generally speaking, some indie films have been expanding faster than they might have as the network of great art houses in the top 25 markets still hasn’t recovered from a Covid hit, making a slow rollout more complicated.

Sony Pictures Classics’ coming of ag drama We Grown Now by Mihal Baig  took in an estimated $36.5k on 9 screens in NY, LA and the director’s hometown Chicago.

Not all indies report grosses on Sunday.

Two Fathom releases bucked up the specialty market with MET OPERA: La Rondine grossing close to $700k at  733 locations on Saturday. Historical drama Irena’s Vow debuted to $198k Monday in 97 theaters with a domestic cume through Sunday of $480k.

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