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‘Suspiria’ Plans Big Expansion After Roaring Start

Suspiria” bewitched the indie box office, nabbing the best screen average of the year.

Luca Guadagnino’s arthouse remake of “Suspiria” summoned $179,806, an especially impressive haul considering the horror film opened in just two locations. That averages out to a massive $89,903 per venue. “Suspiria” played at Regal Union Square in New York and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles, where Guadagnino appeared at Q&A’s after Friday night’s screenings.

Amazon Studios will test audiences’ appetite for artsy gore as it rolls the film out in 250 locations next weekend, a number of which will be Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. The studio plans to expand to more cities in its third outing. That kind of release plan does show some confidence given the gruesome material and heavily German dialogue. Variety reporters said even the footage teased at CinemaCon dared the crowd not to vomit.

“It’s really out there, and we want to make sure that the word continues,” Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of marketing and distribution, said.

Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton star in the supernatural thriller, based on the 1977 Italian film directed by Dario Argento. It follows a young American dancer who enrolls in a prestigious and mysterious dance academy. Since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, “Suspiria” has garnered mixed reviews. Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman said “it remakes Dario Argento’s flamboyant nuthouse horror movie into an art film about dance and witches in divided Berlin that’s so self-serious it forgets to scare you.” The L.A. Times’ Justin Chang, however, noted that it is “all shivery body-horror bliss.”

The MPAA gave “Suspiria” an R rating for “disturbing content involving ritualistic violence, bloody images and graphic nudity, and for some language including sexual references.”

Amazon helped stoke interest with a cheeky social media campaign, which included coded messages, witty observations and links to the film’s music by Thom Yorke.

“It’s been critical,” Berney said of the film’s social media presence. “It created suspense and controversy. We’ve had a lot of fun with everybody really wanting to know how far is this film going to go.”

Prior to “Suspiria,” the best screen average of the year belonged to “Free Solo,” National Geographic’s exhilarating documentary about the first free solo rock climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan. It picked up $300,804 when it debuted this weekend on four screens, translating to $75,201 per location.

Other notable screen averages this year include Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age drama “Eighth Grade” with $63,071 per venue and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation “Isle of Dogs” with $60,011 per screen.

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