The weekend was an eventful one for the specialty box office, with two limited releases making a significant impact. Alexander Payne’s film, The Holdovers from Focus Features, and A24’s Priscilla by Sofia Coppola both had promising openings, showing great potential for expansion. In this article, we will delve into the details of these releases and explore their box office performance and audience reception.
The Holdovers from Focus Features premiered at Telluride and received positive sentiment from audiences, scoring a total of 91% positive sentiment and 81% definite recommend. With a per-screen average of $33.3k on six screens in New York and LA, the film had a good limited opening. However, the ongoing actors strike has created an unusual atmosphere, potentially affecting the film’s future expansion. If the work stoppage ends, The Holdovers could benefit from a wider release.
A24’s Priscilla, based on Priscilla Presley’s memoir Elvis and Me, had a similarly promising start, grossing an estimated $132,139 on four screens in NY and LA. With a per-screen average of $33k, the film showcased its potential for success. Unlike The Holdovers, Priscilla has a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement, which gives it an advantage in terms of production. However, the ongoing strike still has the potential to impact the overall specialty box office during festive weekends like Halloween.
Both the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are engaged in negotiations to end the 100+-day strike. The guild has proposed its latest proposition to the studios and is currently awaiting a response. The outcome of these negotiations will have a significant impact not only on The Holdovers but also on the overall industry.
Despite the uncertainties caused by the actors strike, both The Holdovers and Priscilla are looking to expand nationally. The Holdovers, with its positive audience sentiment and critical acclaim (scoring 96% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes), is set to expand to about 60 theaters across the top 20 markets. This expansion is strategically planned ahead of the holiday season, hoping to capitalize on the increased moviegoing audience during this time.
Analyzing the history of Sofia Coppola’s previous films, it is worth mentioning The Beguiled, which opened at $229k on four locations before going wide. This indicates a per-theater average of $57k, which was more common in the pre-Covid era. A24, the distributor of Priscilla, also has other releases in theaters, such as Dicks The Musical on 635 screens and Stop Making Sense on 70 screens. These films contribute to A24’s overall performance in the specialty box office.
Aside from The Holdovers and Priscilla, there were other specialty openings worth mentioning. Kino Lorber’s Four Daughters made an estimated $5,398 at the IFC Center in NYC. This documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania explores the complex family history of Olfa Hamrouni and her four daughters while examining the radicalization of the eldest daughters. The film, Tunisia’s Oscar entry for Best International Feature, is set to expand to Los Angeles next week and additional markets on November 10.
Sony Pictures Classics also had a successful holdover release with The Persian Version by Maryam Keshavarz. In its second week, the film grossed $77.3k on 30 screens, up from nine screens the previous week. With a cumulative box office of $172,216, The Persian Version demonstrates steady performance.
The weekend saw the release of two promising films, The Holdovers and Priscilla, in the specialty box office. Both films showed potential for expansion and garnered positive audience reception. However, the ongoing actors strike presents uncertainties for the industry as a whole. The outcome of the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP will have a significant impact on the future of these films and the overall box office performance. As the holiday season approaches, these releases aim to capitalize on the increased moviegoing audience, hoping for success in the coming weeks.