Horror ‘Talk To Me’ Scares Up $10 Million; Standout Indie Opening Is A24’s Second-Biggest Debut Since ‘Hereditary’ – Specialty Box Office

A24’s supernatural horror Talk To Me by first time filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou blew past box office projections grossing over $10 million on 2,340 screens opening weekend. The breakout by the first-time filmmaker brothers and popular YouTubers from Australia was no. six at the domestic box office.

The film was well reviewed as a fresh spin on the possession tale and had great exits with a B+ Cinemascore — pretty much tops for horror, especially indie horror — and A24’s best wide-release Cinemascore ever across all genres.

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It’s the distributor’s biggest opening weekend ever since 2018’s Hereditary from Ari Aster, who gave a big shoutout to Talk To Me at Sundance, where it premiered and was snapped up by A24 in a bidding war. Hereditary opened at $13.6 million on 2,900 screens. It’s arguably rather rare for indie films to cross $10 million in a weekend, (especially post-pandemic), marking another breakout for a distributor with a uniquely strong brand and fan base. Talk To Me, about a group of friends messing around with an embalmed hand to no good end, was a broad horror crowd pleaser, playing well as expected in top NY, LA and San Francisco locations but also over-indexing across a broader swathe of markets from Houston, El Paso and San Antonio, to Phoenix, Albuquerque, Fresno and Orlando. It’s infamously out there, which doesn’t hurt ticket sales. Nor does a theatrical resurgence with Barbie and Oppenheimer. Logically it would seem tough to open in the shadow of Barbenheimer, but in this case the top-notch scares met masses of theatergoers reconnecting with the experience and appreciating options. It’s reminder of what many in the industry have been insisting post-Covid –that a offering a range of different kinds of films to audiences consistently will bring them back. Current ebullience is tinged with anxiety as ongoing Hollywood strikes have started to see shifts in the theatrical release schedule out the fourth quarter.

Talk To Me‘s estimated grosses of $10,028,632 break out to $4,197,960 Friday; $3,566,160 Sat.; and $2,264,512 Sunday — for a tally that’s double original projections.

Specialty openings: Magnolia Pictures’ Kokomo City had a strong opening with $16,650 at the IFC Center in NYC. The Sundance-premiering documentary expands to 15 new markets this Friday, including LA, Chicago and Austin.

Music Box Films’ The Unknown Country opened at NYC’s Quad Cinema, the Nuart in LA and Northern Hills Cinema in Spearfish, South Dakota — the community where much of the film was shot – to $10,217, a per theater average of $3,406 for the film starring Lily Gladstone (The Killers of the Flower Moon). Will expand through August across urban markets Chicago, Seattle and Austin, and small ones like Missoula and Helena, Montana. Last week, the production notably signed one of the first interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA that allowed the cast to participate in promotion. Gladstone and Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux, who also starred, and director Morissa Maltz, supported the film with Q&As.

From GKids, Takehiko Inoue’s feature debut, The First Slam Dunk, a box office hit in East Asian territories (and winner of Fantasia International Film Festival’s Satoshi Kon Award over the weekend), opened to $625,561 at 581 locations. Showings included both Japanese with English subtitles, and English dubbed.

National Geographic Documentary Films release of Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp’s documentary Bobi Wine: The People’s President grossed an estimated $18,200 on two screens (one each in NY and LA), for a per-screen average of $9,100, with sold out shows and strong group sales on both coasts. Starts a national expansion Friday with runs in San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston and Portland with plans for a continued rollout in August and September and into awards season.

Greenwich Entertainment’s The Beasts by Rodrigo Sorogoyen grossed an estimated $5k at one location, Manhattan’s Film Forum. Expands to LA’s Laemmle Royal and other top 25 markets Friday. 

Holdovers: Searchlight Pictures’ Theater Camp by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman grossed an estimated $634k in week three on 295 screens, a $2,100 per screen average and cume now topping $1.5 million. Expansion included 30+ new markets including Dallas, where it was #1 at the AMC Northpark Friday, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Diego, Miami and Houston.

Also in week three, the Sideshow and Janus Films’ release Afire saw an estimated $32,815 on 44 screens, for a new cume of $124,654. Continue its expansion next weekend with runs in Boston, San Francisco and Miami.

Sony Pictures Classics’ The Miracle Club grossed $103,152 on 121 screens (last week 271) in week three for a cume of $1.6 million.

IFC Films’ Lakota Nation vs. United States saw an estimated weekend gross of $6k at 16 locations in week two for a PSA of $375 and a cume of $22,750. Also this weekend, IFC’s RLJE Films opened Sympathy for the Devil with Nicholas Cage on 28 screens for a gross of $5.4k.

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