Specialty Box Office: ‘The Grandmaster’ Tops Newcomers; ‘Blue Jasmine’ Still Flowering In Big Expansion
Specialty Box Office: ‘Philomena’ Debuts Strong; Is It This Year’s ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’?
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The Grandmaster battled its way to the top of the Specialty Box Office in its first weekend, targeting the art house crowd though the film by celebrated Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai is headed for a wider release next week. The martial arts feature starring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi grossed over $132K, averaging $18,894, making it the weekend’s top PSA title and out-performing the debut of the filmmaker’s previous release, My Blueberry Nights. That film grossed over $74K in 6 theaters in April 2008, averaging just $12,357. It went on to cume just $867K domestically. But Grandmaster fell short of 2046, Wong’s 2005 feature which opened in 4 theaters also in August of that year. That film, also starring Zhang, grossed just over $113K for a $28,268 average.
The Grandmaster itself evolved since screening for hometown audiences, shaving off 22 minutes by the time it hit screens this weekend and, according to TWC, a more linear telling of the story about Ip Man, the martial artist who trained Bruce Lee. TWC is confident the feature will cross over to a wider audience and is planning a significant expansion into Labor Day weekend.
“There is substantial action that will appeal to a wider audience,” said Weinstein president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis. “It [is in] upscale theaters the first weekend and then will broaden out to suburban theaters.” The Grandmaster will head to 500 to 600 theaters next weekend, making it one of the largest foreign-language releases of the year. The film has grossed $55 million overseas to date.
SXSW Film Festival narrative winner Short Term 12 starring Brie Larson and John Gallagher bowed in 4 runs over the weekend. The film by Destin Cretton charmed audiences at SXSW, winning the Audience Award in addition to the top Jury Prize. It also received an acting award for Larson at the recent Locarno Film Festival. And in theaters, it grossed over $60K for a PSA just over $15K. Not a smash, but the film carried some momentum from its festival word of mouth.
Said Cinedigm Sunday: “We’ve been in love with Short Term 12 ever since SXSW introduced it to the world, and over the past few months, we’ve been gratified to see press and audiences embrace it alike. The critical response has been phenomenal and we are confident that this is the beginning of a very long run for Short Term 12 as we expand into top 25 markets over the coming weeks. Destin, Brie, John, Kaitlyn, Keith and everyone associated with this special film are true talents and we’re proud to welcome them into the Cinedigm family.”
The weekend’s other Specialty titles managed only ho-hum results at best. Magnolia‘s Drinking Buddies opened in two locations in New York and Chicago, grossing $19K for a $9,500 average. The film, however, has been a hit on VOD according to filmmaker Joe Swanberg. He said the film had already made its money back even before the weekend’s theatrical release and a spokesperson from Magnolia said it had performed “beyond” their expectations digitally, so apparently theatrical is just icing on the cake. Drinking Buddies will head to 10 additional cities including L.A. and San Francisco Labor Day weekend with additional markets planned going into September.