Two weeks ahead of its nationwide release, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama “The Fabelmans” got a platform release in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, grossing an estimated $160,000 from four screens for a $40,000 per theater average.
That figure is just a few hundred dollars above the $39,655 platform release average of Focus Features’ “Tár” and below the $46,113 of Searchlight’s “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Though it isn’t the best platform launch among the early Oscar contenders this awards season, Universal said that it had projected a $40,000 average for “The Fabelmans” prior to release and were pleased by the film’s Friday-to-Saturday drop of just 3%, signaling that the film is gaining the kind of word-of-mouth it will need in the weeks ahead.
“With ‘The Fabelmans,’ Steven Spielberg has crafted one of his most personal stories yet, an incredible universal coming of age story that clearly resonated with audiences this weekend earning an A CinemaScore, 96% audience and 95% critical scores on Rotten Tomatoes and we have no doubt the film will captivate audiences throughout the holiday season,” Universal’s domestic distribution president Jim Orr said in a statement.
Back in September, “The Fabelmans” won the coveted audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival, an award whose winner has been at least nominated for the Best Picture Oscar 12 out of the past 13 years with five Best Picture winners among them.
That buzz has made Spielberg’s film a key test as studios and theaters are hoping that late-year awards contenders are still a reliable moneymaker at the box office and are not relegated by the majority of moviegoers to “wait until streaming” status. Spielberg’s previous film, “West Side Story,” bombed last year with $76 million grossed globally against a $100 million budget, a victim of older moviegoer reluctance to head to theaters amidst last winter’s COVID-19 Omicron variant outbreak.
Universal is hoping that the recent success of its George Clooney/Julia Roberts romcom “Ticket to Paradise,” which just crossed $150 million globally against a $60 million budget, is a sign that older moviegoers are responding to its efforts to its efforts to release films tailored to their interests and will turn out for “The Fabelmans” when it is released nationwide on Thanksgiving weekend. Next weekend, Universal will also release another awards hopeful, “She Said,” a drama based on the New York Times investigation of Harvey Weinstein that is expected to open to less than $10 million.
Among holdovers, “The Banshees of Inisherin” had a respectable hold as it expanded to 960 theaters in its fourth weekend, adding $1.7 million as it now stands at a $5.8 million total. United Artists/Orion’s “Till” took a hit in its theater count from the release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” but added $618,000 to bring its running total to $8 million.
Focus releases “Tár” and “Armageddon Time” both saw their totals slide below $500,000, with “Tár” taking $343,000 from 359 theaters in its sixth weekend for a $4.5 million total while “Armageddon Time” earned a much weaker $352,000 from 961 theaters, bringing its total to $1.6 million after two weekends.