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Per Theater Chart: '71 is Number One

March 4th, 2015

'71 poster

Only two films were in the $10,000 club at the box office this past weekend, and they were in a close race. '71 led the way with an average of $13,940 in four theaters. Meanwhile, The Hunting Ground was close behind with an average of $12,054 in two theaters.

A ton of other new limited releases arrived over the weekend, but only one of which didn't struggle. That lone film was Eastern Boys, which opened with $5,726 in its one theater. A La Mala opened in nearly 400 theaters and earned an average of $3,651. Given its theater count, this isn't a bad result. It is also the latest film aimed at Hispanics, which is certainly a growing target demographic. Futuro Beach was close behind in terms of its average at $3,324; however, it was only playing in one theater, so this is a much weaker result. Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal opened with an average of $3,076 in 24 theaters. Chinese films are huge in their native market, but they haven't broken into the marketplace here. Next up was Wild Canaries with $2,683 in one theater over the weekend for a total opening of $4,539. Deli Man: The Movie only managed an average of $2,488, but it was playing in 15 theaters, which is a lot for a documentary. The Salvation only opened in two theaters and earned an average of $2,326. Maps to the Stars opened in more theaters than a limited release should (66) and also debuted on Video on Demand, so it should come as no surprise that is really struggled. On the other hand, it avoided the Mendoza Line by earning an average of $2,173, so it could have been worse. Speaking of the Mendoza Line, Farewell to Hollywood failed to reach that mark with $572 in one theater over the weekend and a total opening of $1,803.

On a side note, it has come to our attention that the Wikipedia article for the Mendoza Line has cut back on the details, so much so that it doesn't really help people who don't know what that term means. So for a refresher... In baseball terms, the Mendoza Line refers to a batting average that is so low that it doesn't matter how good the player is defensively, they are still a liability for the team. In box office terms, the Mendoza Line refers to a per theater average, $2,000, that is so low that it doesn't matter how good the film's reviews are, or any other factor for that matter, because theater owners will drop the film before word-of-mouth can help its legs. It used to be that if a film opened below the Mendoza Line, it would lose money no matter what. It is becoming less of an issue now, as Video on Demand is becoming more important. If a film premieres on Video on Demand, then its theatrical run is little more than an afterthought.

This past week also saw milestones reached for a few Per Theater Chart alumni:

  • A La Mala opened with more than $1 million, so obviously it hit its first major milestone over the weekend.
  • As expected, Still Alice crossed $10 million over the weekend. It shouldn't have a problem getting to $15 million, but its per theater average is low enough that it likely won't expand significantly beyond this point and will instead start losing theaters.
  • The Theory of Everything topped $35 million over the weekend, but that is likely as far as it will go.
  • Thanks to its Oscar wins, Birdman crossed $40 million over the weekend. This is more than The Expendables 3 finished with, and that film opened in a saturation level theater count.
  • Selma got all the way to $50 million early in the weekend. This is as far as it will go, but this is still fantastic.
  • The Imitation Game reached $85 million over the weekend. This is more than Dumb and Dumber To earned in its entire run. It should get to $90 million and perhaps climb past Heaven is for Real, but it is running out of steam.

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Filed under: Limited Releases, Selma, Maps to the Stars, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Still Alice, ’71, Deli Man: The Movie, Farewell to Hollywood, Eastern Boys, The Salvation, A La Mala, Praia do Futuro, Wild Canaries, Zhong Kui fu mo: Xue yao mo ling, The Hunting Ground