Art and Experience: Back in theaters, new pickings boasted some pedigree but modest numbers. Topping the openers was IFC’s “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” which landed strong theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. The documentary “Eva Hesse” (Zeitgeist) and Jason Bateman’s Sundance hit “The Family Fang” (Starz Digital Media) nabbed decent lower Manhattan exclusive results.

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (IFC) – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, Tribeca, San Francisco 2016

$88,134 in 6 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,689

The top multiple screen PTA went to yet another period British biopic about an outsider’s struggles to succeed. This time it’s an Indian who overcomes odds and becomes one of the great mathematical geniuses of his time. Stars Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons matched the material, IFC gave it a strong push in four cities including Boston. What makes this more impressive is that the overall reviews, including key newspapers in New York and Los Angeles, were decidedly mixed. That indicates the film drew on its own, suggesting interest that could be replicated elsewhere.

“Viva” (Magnolia)  –  Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Telluride 2015, Palm Springs, Sundance 2016

$(est.) 48,000 in 14 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 3,429

This Irish-Cuban coproduction (from veteran director Paddy Breathnach) was touted as a contender for the Foreign Language Oscar when Ireland submitted it. After warm festival receptions and positive reviews, it seemed it might break the recent slump in similar films. A crowd-pleasing Havana-shot story set in the travesti (drag queen) community, Magnolia opened exclusive in Manhattan and then in multiple Los Angeles and Miami locations, making our estimated number harder to gauge. It had a decent Saturday uptick, but it remains to be seen how this will play going forward.

“The Family Fang” (Starz)  – Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 66; Festivals include: Toronto 2015, Tribeca 2016

$15,285 in 1 theater; PTA: $15,285

Jason Bateman’s directing debut “Bad Words” opened two years ago to a PTA of nearly $19,000 before going on a wider break of about $7.8 million. His second comedy —with costars Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken —opened exclusively at New York’s Angelika (bolstered with Q & A’s with the director Saturday) to a reasonable response. Its theatrical promise is muted by its future streaming plans starting Friday, along with additional theaters.

Papa Hemingway in Cuba

“Papa Hemingway in Havana” (Yari)   – Metacritic: 37; Festivals include: Key West, Havana 2015, Newport Beach 2016

$491,200 in 325 theaters; PTA: $1,511

“Crash” producer-turned-director Bob Yari used his own distribution company to release his film starring Giovanni Ribisi as a writer who travels to Cuba to interview Ernest Hemingway. Impressively positioned and supported (it was placed at some of the top big-city theaters), it earned low-level reviews which contributed to a mediocre performance overall.

A Beautiful Planet

“A Beautiful Planet” (Buena Vista) – Metacritic: 75
$(est.) 135,000 in 137 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 984

This 46-minute IMAX 3D NASA production opened at both theaters and museum locations to start what is likely a long-term engagement with at least partial shows at many of them.

Eva Hesse

“Eva Hesse” (Zeitgeist) – Metacritic: 62
$13,2900 in 1 theater; PTA: $13,290; Cumulative: $18,422

Another example of, at least in Manhattan, the appeal of docs about artists. Eva Hesse was a 1960s German painter who died young but left a legacy. This had no festival play and mixed reviews, making this strong number even more impressive.

“L’Attesa/The Wait” (Oscilloscope)   – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2015
$6,250 in 2 theaters; PTA: $3,125

Oscilloscope scored the clear victory among subtitled releases this year with “Embrace of the Serpent,” but their latest effort (in Italian) despite good theater placement in New York and Los Angeles has little chance of success with mixed reviews, when even upbeat praise doesn’t guarantee success. Juliette Binoche as a grieving Sicilian mother added heft, but not enough.

Source: Indiewire