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Festival Faves ‘The Holdovers’, ‘Priscilla’ Start Awards Season Runs, Open Well In Limited Release – Specialty Box Office

Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers from Focus Features pulled in an estimated $200k on six screens in New York and LA for a per-screen average of $33.3k, a good limited opening on an upbeat specialty weekend that also saw A24’s Priscilla by Sofia Coppola off to a fine start.

We’re in anomalous times with the ongoing actors strike. The Holdovers will benefit in expansion if the work stoppage ends. Priscilla less since it has a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement — although a rising tide lifts all boats.

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SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP are working, with both sides taking “a deep dive” into the issues in an attempt to end the 100+-day strike. The guild was awaiting a response from studios to its latest proposal.

One distributor noted that weekend festivities for Halloween (which falls on Tuesday) can pinch the weekend specialty box office a bit, especially Saturday.

The Holdovers, which premiered at Telluride, scored a 91% total positive sentiment and a 81% definite recommend with audiences, Focus said (versus norms of 70% and 55%, respectively), a nice set up for an expansion nationally next week to about 60 theaters across top 20 markets. It scores a 96% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul Giamatti stars as a curmudgeonly prep school teacher who gets stuck on campus over Christmas break looking after those who have have nowhere to go.

“As we have seen by the fantastic audience reaction this weekend and throughout the fall festival season, Alexander Payne continues to masterfully tell human stories that connect us and this film is the sharp, funny, warm hug moviegoers have been looking for,” said Lisa Bunnell, head of distribution for Focus. “The performance this weekend gives us confidence going into the film’s expansion ahead of the holiday season.”

Breakdown: Fri. – $92k; Sat. – $62k; Sun. – $46k.

A24 had another solid open in Priscilla, which grossed an estimated $132,139 on four screens in NY and LA for a similar per-screen average of $33k. The adaption of Priscilla Presley’s memoir Elvis and Me stars Cailee Spaeny (Best Actress, Venice Film Festival), with Jacob Elordi as Elvis. The film, which had four sold old-out Q&A’s in New York this weekend, is rolling out nationwide to 1,000+ screens Nov. 3. It has a 91% RT critics score.

Breakdown: Fri. – $66.6k; Sat. – $37.4k; Sun. $28k.

Among Sofia Coppola’s previous films, The Beguiled in 2017 opened at $229k at four locations before going to wide release. That’s a $57k per-theater average — a lot more common pre-Covid.

A24 still has Dicks The Musical on 635 screens ($129k weekend, $1.2 million cume), and Stop Making Sense on 70 screens ($44k weekend, $4.8 million cume).

Other specialty openings: Kino Lorber’s Four Daughters grossed an estimated $5,398 at IFC Center in NYC. The documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania reconstructs the story of Olfa Hamrouni and her four daughters, unpacking a complex family history to examine how the Tunisian woman’s two eldest daughters were radicalized. The Cannes best doc winner is Tunisia’s Oscar entry for Best International Feature. Expands to Los Angeles on next week and additional markets Nov. 10.

Holdovers: Sony Pictures Classics The Persian Version by Maryam Keshavarz is looking at a $77.3k weekend gross on 30 screens in week two, up from nine last week, for a cume of $172,216.

Anatomy Of A Fall from Neon, Justine Triet’s Cannes Palm d’Or winner, grossed $565k on 30 screens in week 3 for an estimated cume of $968k.

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