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Weekend Box Office: Limited release mania

The Disaster Artist (Photo: A24)

Last week’s No. 1, the Pixar animated film Coco, retained its top spot this weekend, bringing in another $26.1 million, while No. 2
Justice League ($16.6 million) and No. 3 Wonder ($12.5 million) similarly kept their places. Much of the rest of the Top 10 was filled with similar wide-release holdovers, including Thor: Ragnarok (No. 4, $9.7 million), Daddy’s Home 2 (No. 5, $7.5 million), Murder On The Orient Express (No. 6, $6.7 million), The Star (No. 9, $4 million), and A Bad Moms Christmas (No. 10, $3.5 million). But the weekend—which didn’t see a single new major studio film open in American theaters—really belonged to the limited and indie releases.

Landing at No. 7 with $4.54 million, Lady Bird, the solo directing debut of actress and screenwriter Greta Gerwig, moved into the Top 10 for the second time. So did Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which came in right behind Lady Bird with $4.53 million to take the No. 8 spot. Bolstered by fantastic reviews (our own A.A. Dowd gave it a rare A), Gerwig’s film has become another indie hit for the powerhouse A24; Three Billboards, meanwhile, has turned out be an all-too-rare success for Fox Searchlight, whose name is now sadly synonymous with lavishly miscalculated festival acquisitions. (Perhaps it’ll make up for the $9.5 million they spent on Patti Cake$ earlier this year, or the $4 million spent to buy Step.) Another early-2000s-set A24 release, The Disaster Artist, came the closest out of this week’s new limited releases to cracking the Top 10; James Franco’s comedy about the making of the cult so-bad-it’s-amazing movie The Room came in at No. 12 with $1.2 million and a fantastic $64,254 per-theater average.


In most situations, that would far away the best average in this country. But on this weekend, it was only the third highest: Opening in just two theaters, Guillermo Del Toro’s Creature-From-The-Black-Lagoon-by-way-of-Jean-Pierre-Jeunet Cold War fantasy The Shape Of Water—a Fox Searchlight production, no less—averaged $83,400. Meanwhile, Luca Guadagnino’s intuitive, bittersweet Call Me By Your Name brought in $70,320 per screen in its own very limited release. Expect all of these movies to expand to a heck of a lot more theaters in the coming weeks.

Really, it was a weekend for indie productions set in any period except the present—Call Me By Your Name takes place in the ‘80s—regardless of critical reception, timing, or disturbing personal subtexts. Even Woody Allen’s 1950s-set drama Wonder Wheel, which has received middling-to-accusatory reviews, averaged $28,111 in five theaters. Less successful was the eccentric Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side Of Hope. Once a fashionable name in world cinema, Kaurismäki now rarely makes films; his latest averaged a modest $5,684 to land at No. 40.

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