A24’s drama “The Whale” surpassed $10 million at the domestic box office on Saturday, a notable milestone for an indie film in the pandemic era.
Pre-Covid, those ticket sales wouldn’t have been particularly impressive. But the arthouse segment has struggled to recover, as adult audiences remain as picky as ever when it comes to movie selection.
Participation in high-profile dramas such as Tár ($5.7 million), She Said ($5.8 million), Triangle of Sadness ($4.1 million) and Women Speak ($393,985) , range from disappointing to downright sad. “The Fablemen,” Steven Spielberg’s latest film, isn’t quite outpacing “The Whale” with $13 million to date, while director Martin McDonough’s dark comedy “Inisherini Bansher” has grossed $9.1 million so far. But when it comes to 2022 releases, only one indie, A24’s schedule-bending Everything Everywhere All Include, has become an undisputed commercial hit with $100 million worldwide.
“The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser as a morbidly obese college professor, opened in limited release in early December. It grossed $360,000 from six theaters (translating to $60,000 per screen), which ranks as the highest per-theater average of 2022, as well as the second-highest for a limited release since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Whale” had a strong showing in the following weeks, staying on six screens in its second weekend, 600 screens in its third, 625 screens in its fourth weekend, and 800 screens in its fifth weekend. In its sixth week, it opened 1,500 theaters and, pending award nominations, it will continue to increase its number of theaters in the new year.
Unlike ‘Tar’, ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and other popular indies, ‘The Whale’ has been able to maintain momentum as it has expanded its theater count. In terms of ticket buyers, “The Whale” has appeal beyond the traditional arthouse film, according to insiders. The top-grossing theaters are, as expected, art houses in New York and Los Angeles, but sources say it’s also successfully selling tickets to commercial chains in markets such as Albuquerque, San Antonio, El Paso, Winnipeg and Phare. Texas.
A24 is hoping that the Oscar-winning “The Whale,” which was made for less than $10 million, will boost the box office. Fraser is expected to receive a lead actor nomination, but its prospects beyond that remain questionable. In front of the Academy Award nominations, “The Whale” won PGA alongside blockbusters such as “Avatar: The Movie”. Water Road”, “Black Panther. At the SAG Awards, Fraser was singled out in the lead actor category, and his co-star Hong Chow was recognized in the supporting actress category.
Darren Aronofsky directed The Whale to polarizing reviews and a 65% Rotten Tomatoes average. The film was more than received by ticket buyers with an audience score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has impressively managed to stay in the conversation since its rousing debut at the Venice Film Festival, where an emotional Fraser received a six-minute standing ovation from the audience.