Business picked up in a big way at the indie box office this weekend, as Amazon Studios/30WEST’s “Late Night” led a slew of new films in limited release.
Opening on four screens in Los Angeles and New York ahead of its wide release next weekend, “Late Night” grossed just under $250,000 this weekend for a per screen average of $62,414. That passes “Echo in the Canyon” and its $58,826 average from two weeks ago for the highest limited release PSA of 2019, and the second highest for any 2019 film this year behind the $76,601 average for “Avengers: Endgame.”
Directed by Nisha Ganatra, “Late Night” is written by and stars Mindy Kaling as Molly Patel, a chemical plant engineer who finds herself thrust into the world of late night comedy after she is hired by veteran host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) and tasked with making her show culturally relevant again. But that proves easier said than done, as Molly has to deal with the struggles of being a woman of color in a writers room dominated by white men. The film has an 81% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Also strong this weekend was A24’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” which opened on seven screens in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and earned $230,744 for an average of $32,963, with A24 reporting multiple sellouts for screenings in San Francisco.
Written and directed by Joe Talbot in his directorial debut, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” stars Jimmie Fails in a drama based in part on his own life. The film follows Jimmie in his attempts to reclaim the Victorian home build by his grandfather in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, even as the unstoppable surge of gentrification in the city threatens to push him out. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance to critical acclaim, earning a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
On the documentary front, NEON had a solid single screen opening for “This One’s for the Ladies,” grossing $16,000 at the Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem. Directed by Gene Graham, the film follows a community of black women in New Jersey who turn a karate dojo into a Thursday night club filled with exotic dancers. The film has mixed reviews with a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score from 11 reviews.
Also released this weekend was CBS Films’ “Pavarotti,” Ron Howard’s look back at the career and legacy of the iconic Italian opera singer. Releasing on 19 screens, the film earned $142,500 for a decent average of $7,500. The documentary has an 84% Rotten Tomatoes score. The other major music doc in theaters, Greenwich’s “Echo in the Canyon,” expanded to 43 theaters in its third weekend and grossed $205,337, bringing its total to just over $501,000.