Art and Experience: While Marvel’s R-rated “Deadpool” dominates theaters in wide release this weekend, the specialized side is at best treading water. The usual range of Oscar contenders continue to add to their totals at a pace similar to recent years. The major new release, Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next,” which had Oscar hopes, managed a respectable if not sensational initial 308-theater start, with future prospects to be determined.
“Where to Invade Next” (Drafthouse/IMG) – Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, New York 2015, AFI 2015
$933,240 in 308 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,003
Michael Moore’s latest documentary had a one-week awards qualifying release in December with its wider initial release timed for an unrealized Oscar nomination. But Moore’s brand lends his films commercial viability. With political timeliness, a holiday weekend boost and so little other fresh new specialized offerings at the moment, the logic of the date was sound.
Moore’s last four films have grossed a phenomenal $180 million (unadjusted), so its a tall order to try to match these with his first film in over six years.
Most have opened limited. The team of Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, launching their new post-Radius distribution label teamed with Tim League’s Drafthouse, chose to go national with 308 initial dates. The initial numbers in a bleak specialized market are worth cheering about, particularly if they yield strong word of mouth.
But this falls short of top recent specialized multi-theater initial weekends. The best was “A Most Wanted Man” in 361 theaters and a $2.7 million gross. A year ago, the Helen Mirren-starring “Woman in Gold” did $2.1 million in 258. Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” in 351 was closer, about $1,150,000 initially. As for Moore’s other films, though, this comes up significantly short. His most recent “Capitalism: A Love Story” managed $232,000 in just four theaters with its 2009 debut before its rapid expansion and ultimate $14 million total, the lowest of his last four.