‘Downton Abbey’ Opens to $30 Million, Crushing Specialized Competition

IndieWire | 9/23/2019 | Staff
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For core arthouses with access to “Downton Abbey,” this is a very lucky weekend. The theatrical-feature extension of the hit ITV/PBS English upper-crust soap opera opened to nearly $30 million, opening in over 3,000 theaters this weekend.

Not long ago, this is a film that would have opened limited, then gradually widened. However, for specialized films with brand-name recognition, this seems to be the trend: If you don’t need to spend time getting the word out, don’t. Push it wide and get it while the getting’s good.

Focus - Bet - Appeal - Theaters - Share

Focus bet (correctly) that it held broad and immediate appeal, although that meant independent theaters had to share the largesse with chain megaplexes — and in some cases, couldn’t play it at all. There also were some sharp drops from last weekend’s top specialized films as would-be customers flocked to “Downton.”

Otherwise Sony Pictures Classics’ documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn” led the new limited releases with a modest initial result in New York and Los Angeles.

My - Roy - Cohn

“Where’s My Roy Cohn?”

This Sundance-premiered documentary about the McCarthy-era lawyer immortalized in “Angels in America” (and former Donald Trump mentor) got prime New York/Los Angeles theater placement, somewhat favorable reviews, and a respectable initial gross for a villainous non-fiction subject that runs counter to the usual route to doc success. Heroic, he’s not.

Expansion - Level - Response - SPC - Maiden

What comes next: Expect wide national expansion, but likely not to the level of response SPC’s successful “Maiden.”

GKids has cornered the market for international animation, with multiple releases annually and some awards interest. They also are inventive in their releases. This futuristic Japanese entry (involving heroic firefighters) played during the week as an event attraction, doing quite well before more conventional dates in some of them this weekend.

Bulk - Interest

What comes next: This has likely seen the bulk of its gross, but expect some further interest.


Paolo - Sorrentino

Paolo Sorrentino has become nearly the...
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