‘The Death of Stalin’ Lives as the First Big Specialized Opener of 2018

IndieWire | 3/11/2018 | Staff
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New blood! “The Death of Stalin” came along just in time to replace the aging awards titles that dominated the specialized world since October. In its initial two-city platform, audiences embraced the unlikely comedy involving a group of famous Soviet figures who plan to kill the Communist despot. Maybe the Oscar hangover won’t be so bad this year.

Two other wider releases — “The Leisure Seeker” and “Thoroughbreds” — had larger grosses, but far lower per-theater averages. Neither suggest much traction.

Armando - Iannucci - Comedy - Plotting - Maneuvers

Armando Iannucci’s early-1950s, Moscow-set comedy that surrounding plotting and maneuvers at the dictator’s demise is the first 2018 platform release to suggest crossover appeal. The $45,000 PTA in four New York/Los Angeles theaters is impressive; it’s just behind “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “While We’re Young,” both in March 2014. “Stalin” more than doubled the starts for same-month openers “Eye in the Sky” and “Hello, My Name Is Doris” two years ago, both of which went on to good mid-teens.

“Stalin” has perhaps a more big-city feel; its cast includes Steve Buscemi in the unlikely role of Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin, and Paddy Considine among the Politburo plotters. Strong reviews helped, but the title — it hardly sounds like a comedy — represented a marketing challenge. The hook came from director-writer Iannucci, and his return to movies after his success as creator of “Veep.” That hit HBO show confirmed his reputation for political satire after “In the Loop” (2009), another IFC release.

Markets - Week - Cities

What comes next: Top 10 markets add on this week, with other large cities the following and broader beyond that.

Returning to theaters after one-week qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles late last year, this older-audience comedy about a retired couple’s journey down the East Coast in an aging RV did best where the audience resembled the cast....
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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