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‘First Reformed’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Anniversary Blast Off at Indie Box Office

A24 releases Paul Schrader’s festival hit, while Christopher Nolan and WB bring HAL back for a 70mm limited engagement

Cinephiles in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago were in for a treat this weekend, as Warner Bros. brought back Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” for a limited engagement in 70mm. The re-release celebrating the epic sci-fi film’s 50th anniversary made an estimated $200,000 from four screens, leading all films this weekend with the highest per screen average of $50,000.

To oversee the mastering of the new 70mm prints, Warner Bros. brought in a filmmaker they’ve worked with for over a decade and who is a devoted fan of Kubrick: Christopher Nolan. The “Dunkirk” director led the project to create new copies of the film from Kubrick’s original negative, with no digital modifications made.

The re-release comes after a gala presentation of the film at the Cannes Film Festival and alongside a special edition of the film released on Blu-Ray.

As for new releases, the indie box office got a boost from A24’s “First Reformed,” the critically-acclaimed festival hit from “Taxi Driver” screenwriter Paul Schrader. Released on four screens this weekend with plans to expand into more major cities next weekend, the drama made $100,270 for a per screen average of $25,067.

Premiering at the Venice Film Festival and later screening at Toronto and SXSW, the film stars Ethan Hawke as Rev. Toller, the pastor of a megachurch-owned parish who slowly slides into despair after failing to save a severely depressed environmental activist from suicide.

Left to organize the man’s memorial service, Toller slowly begins to identify with the activist’s plight, with his only source of peace in his unraveling life being the man’s pregnant girlfriend, played by Amanda Seyfried. The film has been hailed as one of the best of both Hawke and Schrader’s careers, earning a sterling 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

On the documentary side, the Supreme Court beat the Vatican this weekend, as Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media’s “RBG” made $1.28 million in its third weekend, topping the opening of “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.” “RBG,” which focuses on the life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, expanded to 375 screens this weekend and now has a total of $3.88 million.

“A Man of His Word,” meanwhile, had more mixed results, opening to $480,000. While that’s the highest of all new limited releases this weekend, it also came out on 346 screens, giving it a tepid per screen average (PSA) of $1,387.

Also finding middling returns this weekend is Bleecker Street’s “On Chesil Beach,” an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s bestselling novel which stars Saoirse Ronan as a newlywed in 1960s England who struggles with the social expectation of intimacy after marriage. The film made $36,563 from four screens, earning a per screen average of $9,141.

Finally, among holdovers, Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) expanded “The Seagull” to 13 screens, earning $65,949 for a PSA of $5,073 and a running total of just under $181,000. SPC also saw Chloe Zhao’s neo-Western drama “The Rider” pass $1 million in its sixth weekend, earning $169,640 to bring its total to $1.11 million.

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