Arthouse Distributors Tweak Expansion Plans To Ride Out Omicron – Specialty Box Office

Film

United Artists Releasing likely won’t expand Licorice Pizza until next month and Sony Pictures Entertainment is going to take things slow with Jockey as the Omicron variant delays the return of the elusive older demo to cinemas.

Jockey— one of the weekend’s few new releases — reported an estimated opening of $4,161 in three locations for a per screen average of $1,030. But the distributor’s main attraction appeared to be holdover Parallel Mothers in week two with the Pedro Almodovar film set to gross an estimated $30,238, also on three screens, for a per theater average of $10,079 and cume of $115,224. Both will expand through January ahead of Oscar nominations but co-president Tom Bernard said SPC will shift gears a bit and “take its time” with Jockey as Omicron knocks specialty fare, as the distributor waits for the film’s strong reviews and word of mouth to circulate, and as the market – hopefully — improves.

“I think it’s a wait-and-see. I think some of the opening dates coming up may change a little because we are just really watching, with the pandemic, as far as people’s behavior and Omicron, Barker said.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-buzzy Licorice Pizza, which was released in four theaters on Thanksgiving weekend and jumped to 786 on Christmas, will remain there for the time being, putting off an expansion planned for mid-January. “We’ll stay in a tighter release pattern until the marketplace eases a little bit with Omicron. There’s no reasons to rush,” said Erik Lomis, UAR’s head of distribution. UAR is said to have already scaled back a first expansion to well over 1,000 screens that had been planned for last weekend.

Oscar nominations are late this year, not until February 8, and there’s hope the variant will start to burn itself out in Jan/Feb. after the holiday surge.

Licorice Pizza is no. 8 at the North American box office in week six with a gross of $1.25M, a per screen average of $1,589 and a cume of $6.3M. It posted a huge $83.8K opening screen average in November, before every headline was about Omicron.

House of Gucci, also from UAR and one of the few adult-skewing movies to make a dent at the box office this year, will weekend gross an estimated $787,549 (PSA $1,114). It’s in week six on 707 screens (down 200) with a cume of $49M.

Back to Parallel Mothers: Barker said the strong second weekend was not a surprise. “When you have a first good holiday weekend, you expect a second good holiday weekend — especially when you see the weekdays do as well as they did.” He said the demographic breakdown is a pretty even spread: one-third young-skewing, one-third middle-rage; and one-third older. The younger auds, not traditionally Almodovar fans, have had more exposure to his work — including through retrospectives on HBO Max and TMC this year, Barker said.

The film stars Penelope Cruz as a new mother in a tangled relationship with young girl she met in the maternity ward before they both gave birth. Jockey stars Clifton Collins, Jr. as an ageing jockey hoping to score one last trophy. Licorice Pizza is a quirky love story set in California’s San Fernando Valley in the 1970s.

Elsewhere, Neon’s Memoria earned $18,122 on Friday and Saturday as it wrapped up its weeklong exclusive run at NYC’s IFC Center with a total cume $52,656. The film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul plans to move from city to city indefinitely for weekly engagements at individual cinemas.

Bollywood cricket-themed pic 83 from Reliance Film reported an estimated $660,253 on 419 screens in week two for a cume of $3.5 million.

A24’s Red Rocket in week four grossed $106,184 on 385 screens for a cume of $709,460. The distributor’s C’mon C’mon took in $12,309 on 26 screens in week seven for a cume of $1.85M.

In week six, Sideshow and Janus Films’ Drive My Car grossed an estimated $21,300 on 16 screens, for a PSA of $1,331 and a new cume of $324,523. It starts expanding again on Jan. 7, with 20 new cities and continues to roll out exclusively in theaters through February with 70+ new runs scheduled.

Streaming services don’t report grosses but below are a handful of estimates as per industry sources. (Grosses as well as theater counts are estimates only.)

Apple/A24: The Tragedy of Macbeth: Expanded to circa 100 locations (+80 from last week) for a weekend gross of about $65K ($650 PSA) and total cume in the $250K range. On Apple TV+ Jan 14.

Amazon: The Tender Bar: Looks like about 65 locations with an estimated weekend of circa $15K ($230 PSA) and total grosses in the $70K range. On Amazon Prime Jan 7.

Netflix: The Lost Daughter: In about 10 locations with an estimated $3K weekend and total gross of $65K.  

Amazon: Becoming the Ricardos: Looking at a $4.5K weekend also on about ten screens, on the way to a $705K cume.

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