CatVideoFest, which is just what it sounds like, joined notable indie debuts and festival favorites Shortcomings and Passages, the re-release of Shiva Baby and juggernaut Talk To Me in another weekend of varied specialty fare, both new and holding over. Indies are helping drive a buoyant box office. But they’re also waiting for the Barbenheimer tsunami to recede as bit as these unusual blockbusters vacuum up arthouse/adult audiences.
Sony Pictures Classics said Sundance favorite Shortcomings by Randall Park grossed an estimated $316.4k at a 404 locations. Written by Adrian Tomine, the comedy stars Justin Min as Ben, a struggling filmmaker in Berkeley, California, along with Ally Maki and Sherry Cola. SPE co-president Michael Barker said the edgy romcom is attracting a young and diverse audience and word of mouth is strong.
Hollywood strikes, which prohibit promotion by actors, have made opening films more complicated, although Barker said the thesps had already done quite some press before the work stoppage. “It would have been difficult to change the dates,” he told Deadline, and “it’s a perfect summer film.”
Mubi’s Passages by Ira Sachs will clear an estimated $64k+ on three screens in NY and LA for a per screen average of $21.36k. This is among the top openings for the year at all three — IFC Center, Film at Lincoln Center and the Landmark Nuart – and it’s Mubi’s biggest theatrical launch after Decision To Leave last October ($90k+ opening on three screens for a $30.2k PSA). The romantic drama, which stars Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom), Ben Whishaw (Women Talking) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color), expands to another dozen markets (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington DC) next weekend.
Meanwhile, Oscilloscope Laboratories’ annual CatVideoFest 2023, a compilation reel culled from countless hours of submissions, grossed an estimated $115.5k in 41 locations for a PSA of $2.8k. The event was founded by in 2012 by Seattle cat lover Will Braden. Oscilloscope has been handling it since 2018. This year it’s finally set to match its pre-Covid box office. CatVideoFest partners with local animal shelters, where theaters often direct a cut of the proceeds. Organizations often set up at screenings with cats for adoption.
Notable engagements this weekend include Chicago’s Music Box Theatre ($18k from two screenings) and Louisville’s Speed Art Museum ($13k across a half a dozen sold out shows). The event first launched at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Additional sellouts in LA, Nashville, Portland, Santa Fe, Asheville and Lebanon, NH. CatVideoFest will roll out 200+ engagements this month and next.
Andrew Carlin, Oscilloscope’s head of theatrical distribution, says theaters “often ask if there’s a window on this. I say not really, because it never goes to VOD. You can play it as long as you want and whenever you want.”
A stab at extending the franchise didn’t fly. DogVideoFest premiered last fall but didn’t connect in the same way as dog people apparently do not come out like way cat people do. Cat videos have been a staple of the internet, almost synonymous with it, since it was possible to post videos. It could be people think cats have a bit of a “snooty attitude” so, if they fall off something, it’s funny. Dogs are so nice, no one wants to see that, said someone close to the franchise.
Other specialty openings: Roadside Attractions’ Bill Pohlad biopic Dreamin’ Wild starring Casey Affleck and Noah Jupe as musician brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson grossed an estimated $129,360 for the three days on 402 screens.
Utopia’s re-release of Emma Seligman’s Indie Spirit award-winning Shiva Baby this weekend — in celebration of her forthcoming sophomore feature Bottoms — grossed an estimated $10,186 at seven location with sold out shows in LA, NY (Manhattan/Brooklyn) San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Montreal, and Denver, along with a small tour of single event-style screenings that is expanding nationally into September. The re-release features a new Q&A pre-recorded with Seligman, star Rachel Sennot and moderator Whitmer Thomas (The Civil Dead) and has been driven by an initial wave of promo support from talent ahead of the strike, along with partners like Letterboxd, Newfest. Participating arthouse theaters include Quad Cinema, Roxy Cinema, Laemmle Theaters, Alamo Drafthouse and others.
Utopia will add more mid-week shows this coming Mon-Thurs. ahead of a larger week two expansion.
What Comes Around by Amy Redford from IFC Films saw an estimated gross of $4k at 14 theaters.
Holdovers: A24’s horror Talk To Me was no. 8 at the domestic box office in week two with $6.27 million on 2,370 screen. The cume rose to $22.1 million after a really strong hold, down just 40% from opening, weekend. The first film by Australian brothers and popular YouTubers Danny and Michael Philippou, which A24 acquired out of Sundance, will continue its theatrical run through the rest of the summer and beyond.
Musical Bollywood love story Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani was no. 9 with over $1.5 million on 270 screens, for a cume of $3.2 million, according Comscore. This weekend was down just 9% from last with 90 fewer screens. The Hindi film from director Karan Johar stars Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
GKids’ Japanes animated The First Slam Dunk from Takehiko Inoue grossed $98.7k in 68 theaters in week two for a cume of $1 million..
The Unknown Country from Music Box Films grossed $4k on five screens, also in week two, for a projected cume of $16,185 for the film by Mariss Maltz starring Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon).