Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, the highest-profile specialty opening to report numbers this weekend (i.e. not distributed by a streamer) posted a solid $96,953 for a per screen average of $16,158 in six theaters in New York/Los Angeles. Critics are calling the film about a washed up porn star returning to his hostile Texas hometown audacious and uproariously funny led by an explosive performance from star Simon Rex, and it is. The weekend saw sold out Q&A appearances from Baker and cast on both coasts ahead of the film’s selective rollout in top markets next weekend and a nationwide expansion over the holidays. Distributor A24 said the film grossed $39,660 Fri.; $31,282 Sat.; and $25,651 Sun.
Kino Lorber opened France in two locations (NY/LA) to a weekend debut of $6,227. With pre-opening revenue of $8,025, Bruno Dumont’s satire of the contemporary news media starring Léa Seydoux now has a North American cume through Sunday of $14,252. The film opened at the The Nuart in LA and Film Lincoln Center in NYC.
Notable alternative engagement: Imax live streamed Kanye West’s first headline concert in five years on Thursday night joined by special guest Drake to 36 domestic theaters, grossing $95K across all locations attracting a lot of non-regular moviegoers and a diverse, young crowd — even though the free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was live streamed by Amazon Music and Prime Video at the same time.
Streamers with theatrical titles don’t release grosses, but according to my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro, Netflix’ Don’t Look Up from Adam McKay with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and a starry ensemble is looking at a $700K opening weekend in 500 locations. On Netflix Dec. 24. Amazon’s Aaron Sorkin-directed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz feature Being the Ricardos, looks set for an estimated $450K weekend on 400 screens. On Amazon Prime Dec. 21.
Most other smaller specialty films highlighted in Friday’s preview won’t report grosses until early in the week. However, a growing posse of well-reviewed and well-received awards contenders that hit theaters over the past month are stepping along careful platform releases or chugging ahead into the holidays and Oscar nods.
Flee, from Neon and Participant, earned $6,275 in 4 locations in week two for a PTA of $1,569 and a cume through Sunday of $38,075. The unusual animated documentary was the Grand Jury Prize winner for World Cinema at this year’s Sundance Festival. Filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen tells a poignant story of belonging and the search for identity through the story of an Afghan immigrant to Denmark who happens to be a childhood friend of his. The doc is sticking to AMC Lincoln Square, Angelika Film Center, AMC Sunset 5, and The Landmark LA before expanding to additional markets in January.
UAR’s Licorice Pizza from Paul Thomas Anderson continues its strong run collecting over $1M+ from four auditoriums in three weeks as it readies for its wide opening on 12/24. It took in $176,349 this weekend for an impressive PTA of $44,088 and a cume through Sunday of $1.106M. The film tells the story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine falling in love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973. Starring Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper & Benny Safdie.
Also in its third weekend, Sideshow/Janus Films’ release of much lauded Drive My Car grossed an estimated $60,378 in 24 theaters for an estimated per-screen of $2,516 and a new cume of $136,199. The distributors said the film showed strength in both new markets and old, setting post-pandemic opening weekend records at theaters in Chicago and Seattle, while posting increases at both of its NYC theaters. It will continue to expand next weekend, adding Austin, Denver, Philadelphia and other additional markets.
In week four is C’mon C’mon on 569 screens for a weekend total of $177K and a cumulative gross of $1.6M. A24 opened the Joaquin Phoenix film written and directed by Mike Mills on Nov. 19 on five screens in NY and LA.
Focus Features’ Belfast by Kenneth Branagh continues in 819 theatres nationwide in week five. The distributor said it final three day estimate is $275,000 with a new cume to be $6.5 million and ranking the highest this weekend for the more specialized titles. New York continues to be its top market, with Boston, Philadelphia , Washington D.C. and Toronto overperforming their usual market shares. Canada had 19% of the weekend gross.
And Pablo Larrian’s Spencer staring Kristen Stewart is in week six with a weekend tally of $66,538 on 228 screens and a cume of over $7M, according to Neon.
Another notable alternative engagement Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers presented by Fathom Events has projected box office revenue of $1.29M in its second week — a bit of a phenomenon at 1,450 theaters with a cume of $13.438M and many locations extending showtimes through Dec 16.