Hidden Empire Film Group’s comedy/horror romp The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 scared up a $1.064M opening weekend (per screen average of $2,533) with writer-director Deon Taylor and his team huddling right now over where and how much to expand the run — but expand it they will. Taylor’s thrilled with the $$ although he and others in the indie space acknowledged Sunday that ongoing distancing restrictions in key New York and LA is a major bummer.
“We felt that the most this weekend, because we sold out theaters. People couldn’t see it. They had to come back later, or the next day,” Taylor told Deadline. The film needed more capacity. “That’s the very next thing that we have to figure out – how to fill up the theaters.”
Sold-out shows were testament the movie’s “core audience that never gets films served to them,” he said. Hidden Empire oversaw a highly-targeted rollout and marketing push to a Black demo for the film with Mike Epps as Carl Black facing off with a neighbor from hell (Katt Williams), a pimp who may also be a vampire. It’s a follow on Meet The Blacks from 2016.
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It’s not on PVOD. “I feel sorry for anybody that bets against the theatrical world. It’s America’s pastime. You might not be able to afford to go on a trip or a fancy restaurant but you can afford to take your friends and wife or girlfriend and go to a movie,” Taylor said.
Ellen Burstyn-starring Queen Bees, also targeted (to an older demo) debuted to $328,300 at 500 locations for an average per screen of $657.
“We are thrilled that kids, parents and grandkids are having a blast hanging with the Queen Bees. With 97% positive on Rotten Tomatoes this fun film is the perfect family antidote and we look forward to it playing in more theatres next week and throughout the summer,” said Nolan Gallagher, founder-CEO of Gravitas Ventures.
Queen Bees was released day-and-date Friday on PVOD ($19.99) through Universal Home Releasing.
Bees total was at the higher end of internal projections as good-sized chains like Cinemark, Marcus, Harkins and Cineopolis supported the pictures that benefitted from a niche within niche. “We played the film across the country in markets that we felt served our target audience well,” said Nolan, and will be adding “hundreds” of more screens next week.
Sunday matinee numbers are looking quite strong so the total weekend cume could come in higher than estimated. Phoenix was the top market on per screen basis.
Burstyn plays independent senior Helen who moves into a nearby retirement community temporarily while her house undergoes repairs. Lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments and bullying mean girls make her yearn for home but she finds it’s never too late to make new friends.
Elsewhere, Sony Pictures Classics 12 Mighty Orphans (also Week 1) grossed $254,314 on 132 screens with a per screen average of $1,949. The Fort-Worth based sports fable starring Luke Wilson and Martin Sheen only opened in one state — Texas — but is going wide this coming Friday on some 800 screens.
Newcomer Sublet will do about $16,300 on 25 screens this weekend with the best result at NYC’s Quad with about a $3,000. “Nothing to get excited about overall, but the Quad number is somewhat in line with the better NYC exclusive runs we’ve seen recently,” said Edward Arentz, co-president of the film’s distributor Greenwich Entertainment.
There’s still just not much visibility in the specialty market which remains a case-by-case proposition, according to theatrical distribution executives.
A rising tide lifts all boats however and one exec was heartened to see three big films pass the $10-million mark across 3,000+ theaters — A Quite Place Part II, In The Heights and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (any downside surprise from In The Heights notwithstanding).
A Quiet Place, at an estimated $11.69M last weekend and pushing $109 million through Sunday may be the gateway film that helps spur a slow migration back to cinemas?
“I have so many friends who hadn’t been to a movie since Parasite, and that was the first one they saw. Me too,” said one exec.
Still waiting on official confirmation for a few films, will update…
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