Arthouse bounced higher this weekend as Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain hit $1.9 million — the strongest specialty opening this year and the best yet for Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) His documentary is No. 8 at the U.S. box office.
Road Runner from Focus Features played at 927 locations for a $2,050 per screen average and estimated cume through Sunday that makes it the top opening specialty film — narrative or documentary — and top opening doc of the year.
Pig from Neon was on 552 screens for an estimated three-day cume of $945,000 and average per theater take of $1,712. “Pig had a nice weekend. It’s a great result and we couldn’t be happier,” Neon said. The well reviewed debut feature from director Michael Sarnoski stars Cage as a former star chef turned reclusive truffle hunter. He lives alone in the Oregon wilderness but must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped. Friday saw $377,000; Saturday, $333,000; and Sunday, $235,000. The film’s estimated total weekend take is $945,000 with a per screen average of $1,712.
Arthouse Sizzle: Nicolas Cage In ‘Pig’, ‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ Turn Up The Heat – Specialty Preview
Roadrunner’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday cumes were, respectively, $780,000, $650,000 and $470,000. The film did nearly $200k in Thursday previews, which were folded into the Friday gross.
“It’s truly a thrill for us all at Focus and a testament to the legacy Bourdain created said Focus’ president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. “We’re hopeful that it will have a great run throughout the summer and a positive sign we’re moving back towards normalcy for our business and our partners in exhibition.”
Exhibitors were eager to show the film given Bourdain’s wide and loyal fan base. Focus marketed the film on morning and late night TV, CNN (a producer), with a pop up restaurant that drew over 1,000 fans and cards of Bourdain’s favorite recipes handed to exhibitors to spur ticket sales. The late charismatic chef at French bistro Les Halles in NYC parlayed a hit book, Kitchen Confidential, into hugely popular, long-running series on Travel Channel and CNN that took him around the globe, eating and philosophizing. He tragically took his own life in 2018 at age 61.
The film will later broadcast on CNN and stream on HBO Max.
The last comparable documentary opening was two years ago, pre-pandemic, in August of 2019 with the boy band BTS doc Bring the Soul, which grossed $2.296 million in 873 theaters.
New York, not surprisingly, topped Friday — led by The Angelika Film Center — with over 11% of total gross in 60 theaters. LA was strong second with 10.5% in 67 theatres with San Francisco third at 5% of the gross.
Some 82% of North American theaters are open. The weekend box office a hit new post-pandemic three-day family record for Space Jam: A New Legacy and a growing mix of big studio films new Escape Room: Tournament of Champions to holdovers from Black Widow, F9 and A Quiet Place: Part II fill theaters and accelerating a reopening trend that spills into arthouse. Specialty has been slow to recover, industry bosses say, but recovering it is.
Elsewhere in specialty:
A24’s Zola, in weekend 3 on 533 screens has an estimated three-day total of $270,000, and cumulative gross of $4.275M.
Searchlight’s Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) also on weekend 3, in 275 theaters, grossed an estimated $182,000 for the three days, for a cume of just under $1.9 million ($1.866M to be exact) and is pushing for $2M.
Sony Pictures Classics’ I Carry You With Me in weekend 4 made $26,752 on 111 screens (up from 57 last week) for a cume of $134,762. The distributor’s 12 Mighty Orphans, in weekend 6, hit $94,800 on 140 screens (last week 185) for a cume of over $3.3 million.
Queen Bees in weekend 6 had an estimated three-day $49,000 at 123 locations (down from 398) for a total gross of $1.776M.