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‘Apollo 11’ Soars in IMAX, ‘Climax’ and ‘Transit’ Sustain Foreign-Language Trend

As a handful of Oscar-winners rode a post-Oscar burst, a surge of new movies added vitality to the specialty market, filling the box-office void as award players ebb away.

Best among these was “Apollo 11” (Neon), CNN’s Sundance documentary premiere that brings back the 1969 moon landing with innovative reformatting of 50-year-old NASA archive footage and spectacular presentation. Its IMAX break delivered solid results ahead of its further expansion.

Climax” (A24) and “Transit” (Music Box), two subtitled films from established European directors, both showed strong initial limited results. The foreign-language rebound sparked by “Roma,” “Cold War,” and “Shoplifters” is crossing over to non-awards titles as well. This combined with the enhanced interest in documentaries marks a major rebound for the struggling specialized world.

Opening

Apollo 11 (Neon) – Metacritic: 92; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$1,650,000 in 120 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $13,750

Underscoring the golden age of documentary quality and box office appeal, another compelling non-fiction feature has opened to great reviews and initial success. Reversing the trend of a fiction film following a successful documentary, this CNN Film presentation retells the events of the recent “First Man,” making the results even more impressive. Opening in all IMAX theaters boosted the gross (higher ticket prices), but impressively this also topped the results from “Free Solo” did the same thing at the height of its successful Oscar campaign.

While most of those screens move to “Captain Marvel” next week, “Apollo 11” marks a successful launch for this mixture of familiar and new footage from the first moon landing.

What comes next: This expands wider nationally on Friday.

“Climax”

Wild Bunch

Climax (A24) – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2018

$121,655 in 5 theaters; PTA: $24,331  (U.S. only)

Taboo-busting French director Gaspar Noe’s “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void” both drew stateside interest. His latest bravura effort, with his usual distinctive visual inventiveness, is his biggest opener yet. A rare subtitled film from A24, the younger appeal of this recounting of a hallucinatory party with a sexy group of aspiring dancers rode favorable reviews to strong initial reaction. The numbers are more impressive as San Francisco and Austin joined the usual bookings in New York and Los Angeles.

What comes next: Initial expansion comes this week with wider quickly to follow.

Transit (Music Box) – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Berlin, Toronto, New York 2018

$35,368 in 2 theaters; PTA: $17,684

In a crowded week for new films, German auteur Christian Petzold’s newest film rode strong reviews to open even better than his last two films, “Barbara” and “Phoenix,” which grossed an impressive $3 million. Set during World War II, a refugee in France finds that their assumed identity leads to unforeseen complications. This looks to be yet another potential winner among multiple recent subtitled successes. (It won’t be next year’s Oscar contender, as Germany chose “Never Look Away” instead.)

What comes next: Los Angeles and Washington begin the expansion this Friday.

Giant Little Ones (Vertical) – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Toronto 2018

$13,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $13,500

This Canadian independent film about popular high school teens whose lives are changed by an encounter at a party.  This opened exclusively in Manhattan at the Angelika, and found an unexpected strong initial gross.

What comes next: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington begin the expansion this week.

The Wedding Guest (IFC) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Toronto 2018

$20,156 in 4 theaters; PTA: $5,039

From veteran director Michael Winterbottom, this thriller (though it sounds like a comedy) stars Dev Patel as a man who travels to his native Pakistan to interfere with an arranged marriage in an outlying city. With mixed reviews, the opening in New York and Los Angeles suffered against so many strongly reviewed titles.

What comes next: This will expand nationally starting this week.

“Woman at War”

Woman at War (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2018

$(est.) 19,000 in 5 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,800

Opening in five New York/Los Angeles theaters, this Icelandic film about an eco-terrorist takes an unusually comic tone as it tackles serious issues. Backed by some of the best reviews this year so far, it had a mixed initial result in appropriate theaters in its initial markets.

What comes next: Strong word of mouth should help this expand in prime specialized theaters over the coming weeks.

Furie (Well Go USA)

$145,400 in 14 theaters; PTA: $10,386

Vietnam joins other Asian countries as a source for genre films released to select American theaters. This thriller about a mother searching for her daughter kidnapped by traffickers opened in Southern California and Houston opened to strong initial results.

What comes next: These numbers should get it additional dates in select locations.

Saint Judy (Blue Fox) – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Los Angeles 2018

$41,234 in 55 theaters; PTA: $750

The subject of this documentary is an attorney who crusaded to help immigrant women fighting for asylum to escape abuse. It opened unusually wide for this kind of film, with minor results.

What comes next: This is set for further expansion this Friday.

“The Iron Orchard”

Week Two

The Iron Orchard (Santa Rita)

$65,450 in 42 theaters (+34); PTA: $1,558; Cumulative: $121,140

This independent period drama set in a Texas-oil field added New York and Los Angeles limited runs to its home state expansion with modest results.

Wrestle (Oscilloscope)

$4,200 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $2,100; Cumulative: $12,503

Los Angeles opened this well-reviewed documentary which, similar to “Hoop Dreams,” recounts how high school athletics works to transform the lives of students,

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 16

$4,710,000 in 2,641 theaters (+1,388); Cumulative: $75,920,000

Peter Farrelly’s Best Picture-winner doubled its theater count while keeping its gross nearly the same after its big Oscar win. This gross is more than triple last year’s winner “The Shape of Water” on the same weekend, which at that point was still playing on a third as many screens and had more extensive at home viewing opportunities.

Fighting With My Family (MGM) Week 3

$4,691,000 in 2,855 theaters (+144); Cumulative: $14,946,000

In its second wide week (after an initial limited opening), this recounting of WWE star Paige and her early days as a wrestler dropped 40 percent. This Dwayne Johnson-supported project could still easily pass $20 million.

Olivia Colman,

“The Favourite”

Fox Searchlight

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 15; also on Video on Demand

$825,000 in 742 theaters (+454); Cumulative: $33,217,000

Olivia Colman’s Best Actress win made all the difference in bringing Yorgos Lanthimos’ film back to many theaters and adding to the strong total this contender already had amassed.

Everybody Knows (Focus) Week 4

$481,000 in 209 theaters (+138); Cumulative: $1,277,000

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s star-driven subtitled film starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz continues to show decent results amid other recent foreign language successes as it expands more broadly.

Arctic (Bleecker Street) Week 5

$362,124 in 268 theaters (+11); Cumulative: $1,627,000

This adventure in the polar regions tale fell from its peak gross last week, when it expanded to close to its widest level.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 23; also on Video on Demand

$364,100 in 238 theaters (+148); Cumulative: $16,948,000

Its Oscar win prompted a new boost to its theater count, as this sheer rock climbing feat recounting approaches $17 million.

They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.) Week 7

$340,000 in 368 theaters (-70); Cumulative: $16,986,000

Tied with “Free Solo” among recent hit documentaries, Peter Jackson’s World War I footage documentary has actually outgrossed his recent high-budget production of “Mortal Engines” in domestic returns.

“Cold War”

Cold War (Amazon) Week 11

$143,616 in 128 theaters (-131); Cumulative: $4,368,000

Depending on what the still unconfirmed actual figures of “Roma” turn out to be, “Cold War” looks to be the highest-grossing arthouse subtitled release in several years.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 12

$137,546 in 126 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $14,644,000

What is a major Oscar worth? Post Regina King’s expected Supporting Actress win, the film dropped around 40 percent from last weekend.

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$136,474 in 122 theaters (+42); Cumulative: $671,886

The last of the Foreign Language nominees to be released, the three-hour German entry was the least-played of the group and now will continue its run to new theaters. The results remain modest.

2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films (ShortsTV/Magnolia) Week 4; also on Video on Demand

$(est.) 80,000 in 79 theaters (-336); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,406,000

Continuing its run after the awards, this annual compilation of shorts has once again hit a record level this year.

Roma (Netflix) Week 15; also streaming

$(est.) 75,000 in 65 theaters (-20); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,975,000

Still selling out some shows in key city theaters, Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning film looks to end up by our estimate somewhere over $4 million in theaters in its four months of non-stop play.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12

$72,087 in 58 theaters (-57); Cumulative: $1,370,000

After its Oscar competition, this Lebanese film looks to be settling into the end of its decent run.

Birds of Passage (The Orchard) Week 3

$64,652 in 31 theaters (+21); Cumulative: $165,837

The well-reviewed Columbia drama about the impact of drug wars on an indigenous community is gaining enough traction to earn ongoing art house presence.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 10

$61,000 in 96 theaters (-33); Cumulative: $24,587,000

The impressive non-awards impacted performance of this recounting of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s younger days will end up at around $25 million.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$52,926 in 71 theaters (-51); Cumulative: $5,076,000

The late stages of this biopic of a comeback attempt by the great Laurel and Hardy has reached $5 million.

Also noted:

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) – $36,942 in 58 theaters; Cumulative: $9,524,000; also on Video on Demand

To Dust (Good Deed) – 23,872 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $100,221

Lords of Chaos (Gunpowder & Sky) – $18,668 in 28 theaters; Cumulative: $218,415

CatVideoFest (Oscilloscope) – $18,500 in 3 theaters; Cumulative: $57,733

Ruben Brandt Collector (Sony Pictures Classics) – $12,577 in 15 theaters; Cumulative: $34,314

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