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Poor Things, American Fiction, The Zone Of Interest – Deadline

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Searchlight Pictures’ Poor Things had a monster of an expansion, sewing up $1.3 million at just 82 theaters for a no. 10 spot at the weekend box office. American Fiction and The Zone of Interest, from, respectively, Amazon MGM Studios and A24, opened nicely as specialty films with original stories of all kinds are seeing traction with ticket buyers.

“Generally, I think you are seeing audiences coming back for these kind of films. And it’s a chicken and the egg – it’s the first time post-Covid where we have a had really good [flow] of adult movies in the marketplace,” said Kevin Wilson, head of theatrical distribution for Amazon MGM. It’s also great to see people “looking for an original film.”

Amazon MGM is coming off a specialty hit with Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn and a great run at its Alana Mayo-run Orion Pictures, behind American Fiction as well as raunchy teen comedy Bottoms, released in March, which grossed $12 million U.S.

No one likes everything but it’s undeniable that new fare engaging to many has been rolling into theaters week after week now, many with old-school — and well-executed — platform releases making the most of word-of-mouth and marketing. That’s no small task in an new era where it’s hard to communicate when and where films are opening first off, then get people to come out.

Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Emma Stone with Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo, last week notched one of the best limited openings of the year, and the fall, at nine theaters in four markets. It’s up to 82 this weekend in 17 markets with an estimated per theater average of $15.3k Top grossing locations included a mix of cities throughout North America including Denver, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago, as well extensions across Los Angeles and New York.

The surreal period tale, with a cume passing $2.2 million, was named one of the 10 best films of the year by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review and earned seven Golden Globe nominations including for Best Motion Picture (Musical Or Comedy) and Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture (Musical Or Comedy) for Stone – as well as 13 Critics Choice Association nominations including for Best Picture and Best Actress.

Newly opened American Fiction, Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut, launched in seven theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Austin to a strong $227k start for a PTA of $32.4k. Will move to 11 markets and about 40 theaters next week with continued expansion into awards season.

The satirical comedy is one that the studio believes will grow with strategic marketing and strong word of mouth. It played to a wide range of audiences, predominantly the 25-34 demo but also to those individuals 55+ years (25%) highlighting playability to all age ranges, including an audience of older moviegoers that have been hard to woo back. The film came out with 90% in the top two boxes and an 83% definite recommend, a strong foundation heading into awards season. 

Jefferson has been working around the clock to support the film, backed by star Jeffrey Wright (in what’s considered his breakout role) and others in the cast, which has Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae and Tracy Ellis Ross, John Ortis and others. “When that kind of cast comes together, there is really good charisma,” said Wilson.

Based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett, the film took the People’s Choice Award at TIFF where it premiered. Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and star Jeffrey Wright, for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Also received five Critics Choice Award Nominations for Best Picture, Best Comedy, Best Actor (Wright), Best Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Cord Jefferson). 

And Jonathan Glazer’s first film in almost a decade, The Zone Of Interest, had the best four-theater opening of a foreign language film since Parasite. It saw $124.8k in New York and Los Angeles for a PSA of $31.2k, including sellouts at LA’s historic Vista Theater. The latest strong performer by A24 will remaining on four screens in NY/LA throughout the holiday season with nationwide expansion set to begin in January. 

The Holocaust drama starring Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller as an Auschwitz commander and his wife, has been gathering accolades since its Cannes premier, where it won the Grand Prix and FIPRESC awards. Nabbed four prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association including best Director for Glazer and the Best Film of the year and is nominated for three Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Bleecker Street, which held Waitress: The Musical past an initial one-week run after a massive opening, said the film version of the hit Broadway show will gross an estimated $483k in week two on 1,117 screens.

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