Focus Features to expand indie nationwide
Despite three wide releases crowding the weekend’s domestic box office, Focus Features thinks there’s still life in “The Kids Are All Right,” expanding the pic nationwide this week from 201 to 847 engagements.The studio said the main reason for the expansion is to give “Kids” two weeks of playability before Sony bows “Eat Pray Love” on Aug. 13. Both target primarily female auds. “Kids” has earned a strong $5.8 million in the U.S. since launching July 9 after playing at Sundance and opening the Los Angeles Film Fest. Still, Focus prexy of theatrical distribution Jack Foley said the rollout isn’t without its risks. The biggest, he said, lies in the more far-reaching markets, primarily in middle America, where commercial product tends to dominate. While a few conservative-leaning publications sputtered about the pic’s subject matter, reviews have been highly positive overall. “There are still some big markets where we’re only playing at arthouses,” Foley said, including two Miami engagements. “But the challenge comes from pushing into new markets.” Foley described developed word-of-mouth as an added benefit to the pic’s expansion, with the potential to build on the pic’s theatrical run and translate to ancillary markets. Larger cities, however, typically account for 80% of a specialty pic’s weekend take, while exclusive runs in smaller markets can lift a film’s per-screen average. Fox Searchlight tried a similar move with “Cyrus” on July 16, expanding to 446 locations. Pic wound up dropping 16% over the weekend ($1.1 million), even with an additional 246 playdates. With “Kids” going wide this weekend, Searchlight reduced the count for “Cyrus” to 216; pic has cumed $6.6 million to date. And while the “Kids” L.A.-based, gay-themed story could face a tougher time in smaller markets, compared to metropolises like New York and L.A., Foley credited the film itself as the primary reason to expand. “This is a great movie, and it deserves it,” he said.