A sluggish weekend at the box office overall (one of the worst of the year) wasn’t so bad for the specialty, relatively speaking, with Breakup spending $1 million on 900 screens and in Spanish The good boss at $27,000 on 15. Both are a far cry from pre-pandemic numbers, but have hit the new normal for limited releases — hitting at least $1 million on 500-1,000 screens, and now the per-theater average at- above three digits.
The day at Movieland was punctuated by the announcement by NATO non-profit organization the Film Foundation of National Film Day, a one-day promotional event next Saturday with movie tickets at $3 in over 3,000 theaters/30,000 screens. The event has been advertised by major chains but can be a big ask for smaller ones.
Major art house chains Angelika and Landmark will not participate.
East Laemmle Theaters. “We only had to go a little further since we deal with smaller distributors and independent producers. But the response has been positive across the board,” said Greg Laemmle.
This is a major push to attract audiences as cinema, despite great strides, remains restless, especially lately given the lull in blockbusters. “Tell your friends, grandma, that uncle – go ask that person, whatever you have to do,” Regal Cinemas tweeted touting the discount. The giant chain could be on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.
AMC touted the $3+tax on every show, including Imax and Dolby, and a “discounted fountain drink and popcorn combo.”
It might be a great way to get people out/back to the movies, especially in the current time of high inflation and a potentially impending recession, but for smaller chains or independent theaters, three dollar tickets a Labor Day weekend Saturday “is big demand,” one operator said. Arthouse pricing hasn’t recovered as quickly as trade. And smaller chains nationwide are on the verge to see their federal pandemic relief money run out. It was available to any operator that is not publicly traded.
Alamo Drafthouse, which plays a mix of wide release and arthouse fare, is on board the $3 tix, according to Twitter. Not all, but several independent distributors interviewed were optimistic. “It’s a great way to bring people back to the movies,” one said. “You could have a scenario where people are flocking to cinemas.”
“I think getting people back in any way is a good thing. I just wish NATO had promoted it more, they’ve only just started,” said another.
Return to Breakup and the specialty’s new normal: “I’m happy with it. It’s solid. We all know the specialty market is still finding its footing,” said Kyle Davies, president of distribution at Bleecker Street, which pitched the film. Bleecker estimates the drama starring John Boyega directed by Abi Damaris Corbin will gross $1.2 million for a weekend PSA of $1,133.
The good bossfrom Cohen Media Group, with Javier Bardem, had a per-theatre average of $2,048.
movies like Breakup which grossed $1-2 million pre-pandemic, including Pig (does a little less), Spenser (a bit outdated), The Card Counter, Belfast, Vengeance and Mrs. Harris goes to Paris, would have seen openings in the range of $3-5 million.
The platform releases that might have made $15,000, $20,000, $25,000 per theater in New York on LA opening weekend usually don’t now. The ArcLight Hollywood and Landmark LA have closed, which is smart, but there’s also been a huge recalibration in the specialty market.
Breakup got 79% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics and moviegoers.
The good boss is 100% with critics and 94% with audiences. It’s in Spanish, but CMG has tried a mix of retail and arthouse – i.e. AMC’s Lincoln Square, Brooklyn’s Quad and BAM Rose theaters and AMC’s Burbank 16 – at cases where the story of an unhappy factory boss and a fired worker could resonate more widely. The first week confirmed that arthouses will be the bread and butter. The film is poised to be the Quad’s highest-grossing Q&A opening. It’s an odd stat, but having directors and stars on hand for early screenings has been a key draw for moviegoers in a tough market.
It expands to 40-50 markets by adding at least 125 more theaters next weekend.
Specialty leftovers: Paramount’s prequel First Orphan Murder grossed around $915,000 from 557 screens in week two for a reported $3.3M. He debuted the day and date on the Paramount+ streamer.
The territory by Picturehouse grossed $43,100 in week two from 115 screens.