What happened with Indie Films at the Box Office in August?

Danielle Macdonald in the film PATTI CAKE$. Photo by Jeong Park. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

August has been a down month at the box office even as we head towards a Labor Day weekend that won’t see the studios release a huge film.  But for so many films selected for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, it’s been an even bigger struggle to make a dent.

Throw in the wide releases this past month and the box office is really telling.  Overall weekend grosses have dropped from $122,787,691 at the start of the month to $69,091,381 this past weekend.  To be fair, this weekend suffered at the box office due to Hurricane Harvey and the Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing fight.

Brigsby Bear hasn’t hit $500,000 after opening at the end of July.  This is sad to see because the film was so fun and it has so much heart.  Hell, it even has Luke-fricking-Skywalker himself!

Menashe has made just under $1 million at the box office but the film is also in Yiddish.  Other than Jewish audiences, there’s not much of a market for the film.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is a very timely film but so few people have seen it.  As of Monday, the indie has taken in just over $3.3 million.  It’s predecessor did way better.  I would certainly hope that more people decide to go out to see it, assuming it’s still playing on screens this weekend, in light of Harvey.

The second week of August saw the NY/LA releases of both Ingrid Goes West and Good TimeIngrid Goes West expanded to over 600 screens in the final weekend of August but the film has struggled to find an audience, having made $1.3 million.  There’s been a lot of advertising and it stars both Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen.

As for the Cannes-selected Good Time, the film also expanded this past weekend to over 600 screens.  It has a ready-made audience from all of the Robert Pattinson fans out there.  It’s a career-defining performance for the actor but, again, it didn’t make much this weekend as it brought in just shy of $600,000.

Patti Cake$ had its initial release on August 18 in 14 theaters before expanding to 59 this past weekend.  Fox Searchlight shelled out so much money at Sundance to compete with Amazon and Netflix for the distribution rights.  Did it pay off?  It’s so hard to tell right now as it’s only brought in $206K through Monday.  In locations like Chicago, you’re running out of time to see it.  Neither AMC River East 21 nor Landmark Century Centre Cinemas will play it on Friday.  (Disclaimer: I still haven’t seen the film.  I was supposed to attend a press screening but was spending my week in the hospital and was unable to attend.)

Crown Heights opened in limited release on August 18 and is slowly rolling out across the country.  It starts playing in Chicago this weekend so we’ll see what happens in the long term.

Beach Rats just opened in three theaters this past weekend so we’ll see if the film can find an audience.  This is another film that won’t start expanding until this weekend.  My full review went up this morning after screening it back in May.

Rotten Tomatoes can make or break a studio release but Certified Fresh indie films debuting at the Sundance Film Festival can suffer, too, if they can’t find an audience.  Aside from The Big Sick, it’s been a tough year for Sundance films after last year.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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