Searchlight Pictures’ original Sundance-winning comedy Theater Camp will take in an estimated $281,172 or $46.9K per theater in six opening weekend locations – the distributor’s best limited opening since Jojo the Rabbit in fall 2019 ($349,000 across five locations). That’s after Sunday’s CinemaScore A movie left ahead of Searchlight’s Banshees Of Inisherin debut with four theaters last year.
The number is higher than Searchlight anticipated and the demographic mix a surprise at over 50% 25-34,” said SVP Frank Rodriguez. “We didn’t expect that. It was a young audience. We also have a lot of older demos . old. It’s a great place to be.”
AMC Lincoln Square and Alamo Brooklyn led the way, with Theater Camp on each winning booking the second highest weekend after Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning. Took first place in Angelika. LA locations are AMC Century City, Grove and AMC Burbank. The film expands to select markets next weekend including Austin, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington DC and Toronto, then to 600-800 locations through August.
Tony Award winner Ben Platt and Molly Gordon star as lifelong best friends and drama instructors at a dilapidated theater camp in upstate New York, which is jeopardized when its founder (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma due to of an unfortunate strobe light incident. Her techie brother (Jimmy Tatro) arrives to run the property, but he doesn’t have the know-how, so the staff and students band together to pull off a masterpiece to keep their beloved summer camp afloat. The film, directed by Gordon and Nick Lieberman, and written by Noah Galvin, Gordon, Lieberman and Platt, based on their short film, won the Special Jury Prize for American Drama: Ensemble at Sundance. Searchlight’s nearly $8 million purchase was one of the festival’s earliest and largest. Also starring Noah Galvin, Patti Harrison, Nathan Lee Graham, Ayo Edebiri, Owen Thiele, with Caroline Aaron.
Wes Anderson’s biggest limited openings of the year Asteroid City from Focus Features and Ari Aster’s Beau is afraid by A24, both came with star casts and massive built-in fan bases. Theater Camp reviews are good (see Deadline), but “there’s not the same label for our stars,” Rodriquez said. Past lives First-time director Celine Song from A24 is a better comp, opening to $58K in early June.
The timing may have helped, with the film slipping in the middle MISSION last weekend and before that Barbie AND Oppenheimer others.
Theater Camp producer Erik Feig is thrilled with the theatrical reception of a film that “is itself a love letter to performance. It was built for that,” he said. (The founder of Picturestart and former Lionsgate executive was also behind Quiet Real Cha Cha, which sold to Apple for $15 million at Sundance 2022.)
While he admits that “the world has changed dramatically from last week to this week” since SAG-AFTRA joined the WGA on the box, he’s bullish on the theater. “People are coming back, getting used to a common experience, having [a film] as a zeitgeist topic of conversation. And that’s beautiful no matter what.”
Other specialty openings: Sony Pictures Classics Club of Miracles debuted with $679,976 on 678 screens for a PSA of $1,003. Stars Laura Linney, Maggie Smith, Stephen Rea, Kathy Bates, Mark O’Halloran. Directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan.
Christian Petzold’s A fire from Sideshow and Janus Films grossed $39.2K on four screens, two each in NY and LA, for a $9,800 per screen average. The sophisticated summer comedy won the Grand Jury Prize, the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Expands next weekend.
IFC Films Lakota Nation v. United States hit the IFC Center in New York with an $8,000 opening. The Lakota tribe’s fight to reclaim the Black Hills. IFC, in association with XTR, has a grassroots campaign in indigenous communities along with screenings in urban centers as it expands next weekend.
Trailer on the side of the road Black ice saw a 3-day cume of $26,225 on 144 AMC screens for a PSA of $182.