‘French Dispatch’ A specialized box office test

During a NYFF panel, distribution officials said the next 4-6 weeks will be a key time to monitor the health of the specialty box office.

The light at the end of the pandemic box office tunnel may be in sight. Speaking at a panel at the New York Film Festival this week, executives from major specialty distributors said they would closely monitor the performances of upcoming films like the Cannes winner in French “Titanium” and ” The French Dispatch ”by Wes Anderson to help gauge the way ahead.

“We are looking very carefully at what is happening with ‘French Dispatch’ coming up in the next two weeks,” said Michelle Hooper, Chief Marketing Officer of Searchlight. “At [October 22] it opens in 12 cities and then we’re going to be 50 cities the following week. I think we will go faster than initially planned. I think it will be a real, real test of the specialist market. “

NYFF, which ends Sunday, gave Hooper a sense of optimism about the film. The premiere was packed, it went well and there was a line around the block for the midday broadcast the next day, she said.

Driven by the opening of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” this weekend’s box office total was the best since mid-February 2020, just before the pandemic closed theaters across the county. The $ 130 million weekend was about 86% of total gross receipts for the same weekend in 2019 when “Joker” opened, IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann reported. Searchlight is hoping that what comes closest to a franchise, Wes Anderson’s latest film, will do for the specialty box office what “Venom” did for the mainstream.

Indeed, Neon CEO Tom Quinn said the type of movies was important in getting people to return to the movies.

“Some of the things that you don’t discuss in the industry is that there haven’t been a lot of really great movies for people to take the risk of feeling comfortable in a theater. Some of the biggest movies have certainly generated a significant mainstream box office, but the platform movie, the specialty movie – I think it’s the first weekend. Over the next four to six weeks, we’ll see what the appetite is, ”Quinn said.

Neon’s “Titanium” opened this weekend in 562 theaters, grossing $ 515,000. It would be even bigger, Quinn said, if ArcLight Hollywood were open. The owner of the Sunset Boulevard theater closed it permanently in April amid pandemic business concerns. Despite its importance in launching arthouse and independent films and its historic Cinerama Dome, no plans have been announced for its reopening.

“$ 500,000 and over for any foreign language film, this particular film, is a lot. But what’s missing in there is $ 90,000 to $ 100,000 from the ArcLight. It hurts in the second largest market, ”said Quinn

Sony Pictures Classics co-chair Michael Barker agrees the right types of movies are key to bringing people back to the movies.

“There must be catalyst films to keep them coming back. We’ve seen in the history of the movie industry, lulls until ‘Star Wars’ or whatever comes out and wakes everyone up to go back to their cinematic ways. There is a general feeling that Bond, James Bond, is going to do this. And if you look at what happened in England, this is what he did. People of all ages came, ”said Barker.

Bond’s 25th installment, “No Time to Die,” opened in the UK on September 30 to $ 28.45 million on its first weekend. This is part of a worldwide cumulative gross of $ 121.27 million that rivals that of the 2015 franchise entry, “Specter.”

“No Time to Die” opens in the United States on Friday.

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