‘Poor Things’ Sees Rich Weekend With Best Fall Limited Opening, In Top Three For 2023 – Specialty Box Office

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Searchlight Pictures’ Poor Things from Yorgos Lanthimos earned a stellar $72K per-screen average opening weekend at nine theaters in four markets, for an estimated three-day total of $644K. In a competitive season, this marks the fall’s best limited opening on ten or fewer screens and is in the year’s top three.

The big two for 2023 were heavy hitters Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, from Focus Features, which had a $100k+ PSA in six theaters in June; and A24’s Beau Is Afraid by Ari Aster that took in $80K per screen last spring at four locations. Both had notable activations like Focus’ takeover of the Landmark Sunset, and Beau starting out on Imax. For Poor Things, Lanthimos and the film’s stars Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe and Ramy Youssef have been doing sold out Q&As around NYC over the weekend. 

In an abundance of riches this weekend, Waitress The Musical from Bleecker Street will pass an estimated $3.2 million in its opening weekend on 1,214 screens in the U.S and Canada. More on that. It’s no. 8 at the domestic box office.

Origin by Ava DuVernay and Wim Wenders’ Anselm also had striking debuts. Origin, from Neon, is now the no. 4 best specialty opening of the year.

Poor Things, a fantastical feminist tale of a young Victorian woman (Stone) literally brought back to life by an eccentric scientist (Dafoe) went young with 70% under 35, according to exit polls at four of the opening theaters. Audiences skewed 56% male, 62% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic, 14% East Asian/Pacific Islander, with a 68% Excellent rating and a 75% Definite Recommend. Over half of the audience would tell others to see Poor Things “in a theater right away,” the distributor said of the polls.

The polls — from the AMC Lincoln Square 13 (New York), Alamo Brooklyn (New York), AMC Burbank 16 (Los Angeles), and AMC Metreon 16 (San Francisco) — saw ratings and recommend scores well above industry norms, consistent across age and gender. It’s also certified fresh at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 88 Metacritic score.

Also playing at Regal Union Square in NYC, AMC Century City, AMC The Grove in LA; the Alamo Drafthouse Mission in San Francisco and the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar Austin. It will expand in current markets and add 17 new cities next week including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Portland, Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver, then move to about 80 markets Dec. 22.

Poor Things debuted at Venice where it won the top prize — Searchlight’s third Golden Lion win after The Shape of Water and Nomadland, both of which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Was named a top film of the year last week by AFI and the National Board of Review.

Back to Waitress: the Tony-nominated Broadway phenomenon from Bleecker hit theaters Thursday. Featuring composer-lyricist Sara Bareilles as Jenna Hunterson, a waitress and expert pie maker stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. When a baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, Jenna fights to reclaim a long-forgotten part of herself.

Waitress debuted in 2016 and was one of the longest-running shows in recent Broadway history. It returned for a limited engagement to celebrate Broadway’s re-opening in the fall of 2021. The film was captured from a live onstage show during that run. It was acquired by Bleecker after a premiere at the Tribeca Festival this year.

It’s seeing a largely female-driven audience and doing well in major markets i.e. New York, LA, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Salt Lake City is a real standout along with NYC, given the Broadway connection. “It’s encouraging because we had advance tickets up for quite some time and exhibitors started scrambling to add showtimes, and there were a lot of sell-outs and the feedback was that this thing has got some real energy,” said Kyle Davis, Bleecker’s head of distribution.

Origin from Neon took $117k on just two screens for a $58.5 PSA, a stellar debut for the film by Ava DuVernay in qualifying runs. “This is an incredible result for Origin, bringing in the 4th highest PSA of 2023, but it’s an especially meaningful achievement given that this is only a one week qualifying release.  We look forward to the film’s true theatrical run in January.,” said Neon distribution president Elissa Federoff. It opens Jan. 19.

Sideshow and Janus Films opened Wim Wenders’ Anselm in 3D in New York this weekend at the IFC Center and Film at Lincoln Center to an estimated gross of $43.3 and PSA of $21.65k. This marks the second highest per screen average for a non-concert documentary this year after Wild Life ($47k on two screens.)

Anselm premiered at Cannes and was also featured at Telluride, where Wenders received the Silver Medallion Award. Opens exclusive engagements in Los Angeles next weekend before expanding to cities across the country in January. Sideshow’s Jonathan Sehring said the opening is comparable to Pina’s 12 years ago. “We are excited to roll this out slowly over the next several weeks as we did with Drive My Car and EO.”

Expansion: Eileen starring Anne Hathaway expanded to 532 screens in week two for a $615k weekend and a $746k cume.

A very lively awards season is seeing specialty films showings olid traction with the young demos that distributors and arthouses have been wooing since Covid, as well as starting to lure back the more elusive older audience (The Holdovers for instance) with great acting and storytelling.

A yeaer of strong specialty openings: Amazon Studios/MGM Studios and Emerald Fennell’s quirky Saltburn saw a $45k PSA at seven theaters; Dream Scenario and Priscilla, from A24, both had PSAs or $35.9k on six screens; The Holdovers saw $33k on four. (The latter from Focus Features opened before the SAG-AFTRA strike ended without the benefit Paul Giamatti out touting the film). A24’s Past Lives by Celine Song had a $58k PS at four theaters. MGM’s Bottoms opened at ten theaters with a $46k per theater average.

Last year’s phenomenon, Everything Everywhere All at Once, had an opening per screen average of $50.1k in 10 theaters.

More to come…

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