There’s a new favourite at the specialty box office.
Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite” bowed in four venues in New York and Los Angeles, generating a hefty $420,000. That averages out to $105,500 per location, ranking as the best theater average since “La La Land” ($176,221) almost two years ago. “The Favourite” now holds the biggest screen average since Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” ($103,233) in 2017.
The studio plans to expand “The Favourite” next weekend to around 30 locations in seven markets including San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, and Phoenix. Fox Searchlight will continue to slowly grow its theater count and hopes to get to its widest reach, around 600 theaters, by Dec. 14.
“It’s way beyond our expectations,” said Frank Rodriguez, Fox Searchlight’s head of distribution. “There is so much competition in the overall marketplace, but it shows there’s room for other movies. Thank god for exhibitors knowing their audience was passionate about seeing the film.”
That showing marks one of the strongest openings in Fox Searchlight history, behind just Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which generated $202,000 per screen in 2014 and “Birdman,” Alejandro Inarritu’s best picture winning black comedy that picked up $106,000 per location the same year.
Yorgos Lanthimos directed “The Favourite,” an absurdist period drama that’s seen as a solid Oscar contender. Set in the early 18th century, it centers on the drama between two cousins (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) jockeying to be court favourites during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman).
Prior to “The Favourite,” the best screen average of 2018 belonged to “Suspiria,” Guadagnino’s gory arthouse remake of the 1977 Italian supernatural thriller. It generated $179,806 when it debuted in two locations, translating to an impressive $89,903 per venue.
Other notable screen averages this year include National Geographic’s documentary “Free Solo” with $75,201 per location, Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age drama “Eighth Grade” with $63,071 per venue, and Anderson’s stop-motion animation “Isle of Dogs” with $60,011 per screen.