‘The Whale’ Swims To $11+ Million Cume, ‘Saint Omer’ Sees Solid NY/LA Open As Awards Race Picks Up – Specialty Box Office

Film

A24’s The Whale crossed the $11-million mark in week six as it jumped to 1,500 screens from 835 as the Brendan Fraser-starrer and other contenders continue to tweak theatrical runs through awards season.

The film, which received a PGA nomination for Best Motion Picture this week along with SAG noms for Fraser and co-star Hong Chau, grossed $1.45 million for the three days weekend and $1.8 million for the four days, including Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. Former action star Fraser, who plays a morbidly obese, reclusive English teacher, is no. 8 at the domestic box office with a cume of $11.1 million.

Box office newbie, Super’s Saint Omer, opened on 245 screens with a $62.5k three-day weekend and $255 per screen average ($74.7k and $305, respectively, for the four days). At its three core NY/LA locations, the Alice Diop film, France’s shortlisted Oscar submission for Best International Feature, grossed $21k, or a solid specialty PSA of $7,000. The Neon label planned the wide jump to boost the pic’s profile and national exposure with Oscar voters. But this is the film’s widest point. Super will, if anything, trim screens week to week in a kind of reverse platform during the awards corridor when the specialized audience usually comes out in force.

IFC Midnight/Shudder’s microbudget horror Skinamarink grossed $746k for the three days and $798k for the four-day weekend on 692 screens for a PSA of, respectively, $1.1k and $1.15k.

That was also a wide break for the debut feature from Kyle Edward Ball that went viral after premiering at Fantasia-fest. “Once we saw the incredible response online, we knew we had to bring this film to as many theaters as possible nationwide,” said IFC Films chief Arianna Bocco. “Kyle has made a film for a new generation and has proved yet again what horror films and its community are capable of even with the smallest of budgets. Skinamarink is at once terrifying and eerily familiar, and that feeling demands shared experience.”

Some critics clearly felt that – it scores 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences less so, registering 43% on RT for the grainy tale of two children who wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing and the windows and doors in their home have vanished — the naysayers defying a subset that’s extremely passionate about the film.

In any case, it only had a $15k budget.

Skinamarink opened on partial schedules nationwide with showtimes added as dictated by demand and theatres’ availability. Regal and Cinemark among others only screened Friday and Saturday nationwide. But half of Skinamarink theaters, led by AMC, expanded all runs to open engagements. The film sold out multiple shows NY, LA, and Chicago.

Pete Oh’s SXSW lauded Jethica opened exclusively at the Lumiere Cinema in Beverly Hills tied to Q&As with guest moderators Daniele Scheinert, Riley Stearns and Brea Grant  – grossing $2.6k. The DIY theatrical release, powered by Circle Collective and distributed by Cinedigm’s relaunched Fandor, expands to select arthouses in coming weeks ahead of a launch on Fandor Feb. 17.

The Devil Conspiracy from Third Day Productions opened in 925 theaters for a three-day gross of $414k ($448 PTA) and four-day gross of $470k ($508 PTA). The film about a satanic cabal behind a high-tech firm trying to clone Jesus didn’t fly, with a 27% RT rating from critics and 44% from audiences. PostTrak audiences rated it at a 34% in the top two boxes with an 18% recommend. It skewed older, male and white. A bit stronger in the West and South, but barely.

Better news for Indian/Telegu film Waltair Veerayya, which grossed $905k for three days and is looking at $1.03M over four with 350 runs. Strong in NY, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Seattle. It’s no. 10 at the domestic box office this weekend.

Noting a surge in product from India, where new releases seem to be back in force again, emerging from production bottlenecks caused by Covid. Other openings this weekend includes Telegu film Veera Simha Reddy, with 260 runs in 91 markets and on the way to a three-day gross of $218k and a four-day of $264k. Varisu (Tamil & Telugu) opened with 387 runs in 90 markets for an estimated $565k three-day and $690k four-day run. And Thunivu from Sarigama Cinemas (Tamil) is looking at a three-day and four-day gross of, respectively, $492k and $613k.

Expansions/Holdovers:

Like The Whale, other specialty films are seeing wider footprints. Utopia’s Holy Spider began its larger national expansion in week 12 timed to the beginning of Oscar voting and in the wake of last week’s sold-out American Cinematheque tribute series in LA for the film’s writer/director Ali Abbasi. The film has been steadily expanding to major markets since late October, “but with this expansion, Utopia has begun to get the temperature of moviegoers outside of the usual major urban centers,” the distrib said. It will continue to expand regionally next week.

The film grossed an estimated $39.8k from 95 runs for a cume of $261k.  

Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO from Sideshow/Janus Films continues to march along, grossing an estimated $52,800 on 70 screens in week nine for a PSA of $754 and a new cume of $653,246 (and $64,832 gross/$926 PSA/$665,278 cume for the four days). EO is now the no. 2 post-pandemic new release at NYC’s Film Forum, behind only Sideshow/Janus’ Drive My Car from last year.

The Sideshow/Janus release of No Bears expanded from NY to LA this weekend and grossed an estimated $11,560 on two screens, for a $5,780 PSA and cume of $53,148 (for the four days – $13,660 gross /$6,830 PSA/$55,248 cume). The film by imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi expands to San Francisco and Chicago next week.

United Artists Releasing continued to strategically expand Women Talking this weekend to 26 markets with 61 runs.  The critically acclaimed awards contender continues to hold in well, with this weekend’s new markets performing to similar levels as holdovers. It will continue to expand domestically next weekend to an estimated 140 theaters in 52 markets. It grossed $189k over the three days and $311k over the four days for respective PSAs of $2.3k and $3.8k and a cume of $644k.

Neon’s Broker grossed $297k and $354k respectively for the three and four-day weekend on 271 screens in week 4, for a cume of $538.6k.

Sony Pictures Classics’ doc Turn Every Page grossed $16,896 on four screens (same as last week), for a solid PSA of $4,224 and a cume of $66,830.

SPC’s Living expanded to 32 screens from 11 grossing $88,182, for a PSA of $2,756 and a cume of $219,764.

Of note: Fathom Events’ presentation of Shin Ultraman grossed over $600k from showings last on Wednesday and Thursday only on, respectively, 1,040 and 1,022 screens.

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