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Call Me By Your Box Office

No box-office charts this weekend as SAG is this evening (we're expecting repeat winners from the Globes but for maybe a shock Ensemble win for Get Out). The top ten movies were mostly middle America aimed stuff while the Oscar buzzing titles have all finally gone wide but just barely (most between 800-1000 screens). The exception to this divide between all-quadrant aimed releases and adult awards fare is The Post which is benefitting from its triple starpower (Spielberg. Streeps. Hanks) adding another $12 million to its tally.

The weekend's loser is arguably Call Me By Your Name whichwent wide after 9 full weeks -- more than 2 months after it hit theaters and a full years after its Sundance bow! Audiences have apparently lost their once-obvious curiousity about it. This 20th century strategy of platforming just doesn't vibe well with how people consume their media these days. There are so many options out there that if you wait and wait and wait people simply move on. This is not the 90s, Sony Pictures Classics, so wake up!  When you're handling art films with marketable angles (stars, controversy, Oscar buzz) you can... you must... move swiftly (or at least not slowly) to find your audience. If you wanna play that wait-wait-wait game with something harder to sell that you need major word of mouth on (like, oh, subtitled films) go ahead but not an awards vehicle with stars that's inspiring multiple internet memes as this movie did already sometime ago! Despite the addition of over 600 news screens the romantic drama couldn't even crack the top 20. If it isn't a major player at the Oscar nominations this Tuesday its theatrical life is about to end.

What did you see this weekend?

Greatest Showman is a Leggy HitBiggest Hits of 2017 

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Reader Comments (46)

The Greatest Showman looks like it's going to make a run for La La Land's domestic tally, which is incredible.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Great point about platforming in the social media age, hadn’t thought of it quite like that before. I live in a city of about 500k people in a large state and Call Me still doesn’t get here til next weekend.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

I caught the wide release of Phantom Thread while nursing a cold and bad mood, which is maybe precisely the way it should be seen.

These crazy long expansions (see also: Carol, which took the same amount of time to expand to roughly the same amount of screens) only hurt the gross potential of the films and underestimate the viewing intelligence of hungry viewers. I've been arguing that Star Wars monopolizing screens has made it difficult for smaller films, but the handling of particularly CMBYN has made me question if there's a disconnect somewhere for distributors in gauging awareness/anticipation.

Dare I say that audiences unwilling to wait and resorting to piracy have a huge part of the blame in these numbers? When I was finding song clips on YouTube (from the film's official account, mind you) the sidebar was filled with bootleg scenes. Screenshots are all over Twitter. This has been the most egregious piracy of a film I've ever seen, and it is cause-defeating for films like these when people simply resort to piracy because they simply won't wait.

January 21, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

So CMBYN is underperforming in the Oscar race and the box office...

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

Yeah SPC really messed up waiting so long to open CMBYN. It has a relatively large following online for a such a small movie, but I think an overwhelming percentage of its fans just saw it online--because they had no choice!

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDylan C

Saw Phantom Thread and Call Me By Your Name FINALLY and really liked both of them. I think both could benefit from slight cuts, but I also get that the slow pacing is intentional. Timothee is better than everyone said and I was so thankful my theatre didn't turn on the lights till after the credits.

I also saw Greatest Showman again and that is THE guilty pleasure of the year for me. I got back to campus this week and my apartment became obsessed with it out of nowhere. It's kinda becoming a mini-Frozen.

The best movie I saw this week was Paddington 2. What a gem. Sally Hawkins does wonders in The Shape of Water, but I may prefer her in the Paddington movies.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

I saw Phantom Thread and Call My By Your Name

CMBYN's mishandling by SPC is JAWDROPPING. There is no reason that it couldn't pull Moonlight level grosses but it'll stutter to half that, unless oscar rescues it (which it might)

Chris, one thing I'd mention is that SPC does send their films aggressively to film festivals. It did our local film festival, I know it did Sydney or Melbourne (I missed it here because I was on a plane, much to my chagrin), TIFF, Vancouver etc. I think that hurts it's grosses too. I saw more people in my Phantom Thread screening then in CMBYN and I don't think that's reflective of the films' relative accessibility or interest.

But time and time again we've seen SPC films under-perform. There's no film that they've had from the last five-10 years did the business it deserved.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

It seems a number of these movies botched their release. At over $45 million domestic, The Post has already outgrossed CMBYN, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards. I do think The Post plays well in a movie theater. Very satisfying.

The only thing I watched was Bill Maher. Excellent.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

Arkaan - that's an interesting thought re: festivals and local grosses. IIRC CMBYN had only two public screenings and one in a smaller theatre, however. CMBYN had such a well publicized and successful festival run that you'd think it would've inspired more confidence than this release suggests - so your point is a crucial piece here

January 21, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Call Me By Your Name was never going to be a big breakout hit, but at the very least it should have grossed as much as Moonlight ($27 million). Had A24 released it the numbers would probably be higher and might do better with the awards bodies. The nine week platform release is not a good model these days when movies last about two months in theaters and are in Blu Ray/DVD by the third or fourth month. At this point it will probably gross about $15 million. If it does well with Oscar nominations maybe it can eke out $20 million. I do think that the film will have a successful afterlife as its fans seem to be quite devoted to it.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I saw "Phantom Thread" which was interesting but kind of dull- the acting was good and is a great looking movie- but for a film about fashion the costumes were not that stunning. I loved the score which is ravishing. The cursing from the characters seemed totally out of place- would these refine people really start using the F word as if they were rappers?

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Oh, I saw Greatest Showman and it was awful. I cringed the entire length of the movie. I love musicals but the songs here are terrible and the story has no life. What exactly was the conflict? How can it preach acceptance when the film treats the “freaks” as background performers and does not bother to get to know them? The fact that it’s a hit baffles me.

Thankfully, with MoviePass I can instead go see Call Me By Your Name for the sixth time and not feel too guilty at the expense.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I was sick, so I didn't get to the theater. I still need to see I, Tonya and Phantom Thread.

I watched Maudie. Hawkins was excellent (better than in The Shape of Water) but God, what a depressing film.

I also watched Prick Up Your Ears, which has gotten some buzz in profiles of Gary Oldman. I enjoyed it quite a bit (it was actually very funny at times, which I did not expect) but I didn't think Oldman's performance was anything special - young Alfred Molina was far more interesting.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

SPG botched up both Call Me n Film Stars don't die in Liverpool! Esp the latter. Why in the hell they released it in UK in a healthy mid Nov n in US end o Dec!! They shld've released it ard the same time.

SPG needs a new man/woman in charge o distribution. Pronto!

They betta dun fucked Glenn Close's The Wife. She needs to win next yr!!

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I wonder if SPC botched the CMBYN release because they were afraid that the age difference thing was going to be more of a controversy than it was and thought the best way to mitigate this was to wait it out because they knew it wouldn't be on the radar of the Fox newses of the world until it started playing in middle America and scored some real box office but that their plan got away from itself.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

Most people got sick of waiting for CMBYN and downloaded it from one of BitTorrent sites. Film Twitter was incessantly raving about the film ever since last year's Sundance Film Festival and when you leave that many people out of the conversation for so long they're going to resort to other means to see the film. It's just a simple fact. Sony Classics really blew it with this one.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStan M.

It's like the art film version of "Snakes on a Plane". All over the Internet, but no one went to see the movie. (I did. It's stooopid fun.)

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Phantom Thread (one of the best films of 2017) and I, Tonya (another great film of 2017).

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Or it could be that CMBYN had not garnered 'expected' interest & curiosity outside of LGBT's circle unlike Brokeback? Even for a gay person, I find it utterly meandering to the point I couldn't even care less halfway through the film much as I applaud Timothee's performance.
Prefer the underrated God's Own Country to CMBYN.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJans

Call Me By Your Name is a special art film--it is not for the mainstream. I'm not sure any marketing strategy would have worked. While a fine movie, it simply is not on the level of Moonlight, which sold some tickets through sheer quality. The age difference has to alienate some people. The movie's only box office hope is to nab a few Oscars. And sadly, it most likely will only get screenplay, which isn't enough,

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Call Me By Your Name is a special art film--it is not for the mainstream. I'm not sure any marketing strategy would have worked. While a fine movie, it simply is not on the level of Moonlight, which sold some tickets through sheer quality. The age difference has to alienate some people. The movie's only box office hope is to nab a few Oscars. And sadly, it most likely will only get screenplay, which isn't enough,

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I also saw PADDINGTON 2 (i.e the other movie with Sally Hawkins underwater having an intimate moment with a non-human) - quite good.

I got to see SWEET COUNTRY (a new Australian film form the director of SAMSON AND DELILAH) - maybe watch for it in the awards season in 12 months time? Very good.

And watched the classic SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT for the first time (on Netflix). It may well be my favourite Spike Lee movie!

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

I think that exact passion CMBYN's online fans have cloud the fact that most people have never even heard of the movie, much less the book. Literally no one outside of my immediate circle has heard of either and have zero interest in both.

Had SPC made it a wider release, maybe, but still very doubtful, as Midwestern America, in particular, would definitely not find much in it to inspire healthy box office, much less repeat business.

I think it's a fine film, as indeed most people do, but the passion behind it has produced an idea that it's something else altogether, which is fine for them... But for me, the closer truth is that it's a very well-made art film, a lovely capper to Guadagnino's Trilogy of Desire, and a problematic but able adaptation of an equally imperfect and problematic book read by exactly 100 people back in 2007.

Hey, Internet, at least you'll always have The Chalamet to "swoon" over. lol

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManny

Again, we're not talking about it making huge numbers - but 20-25 million should've been plausible. That's less than 1% of the available audience. Seriously. And it's not like it's esoteric.

But beyond that, I genuinely believe that other distributors would have done better with it. And this happens all the time with SPC.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

1/2: Gary Oldman
2/5: Frances McDormand
1/1: Sam Rockwell
1/1: Allison Janney

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I saw Call Me By Your name and I can’t stop thinking about it. It is such a layered and thoughtful film. I’m a huge fan of the book and I was so happy this adaption was created.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Off topic, but Three Billboards just swept the SAG awards. I cannot remember a time when I have disliked a frontrunner so much. What a homophobic, misogynistic, and racially insensitive film. 2017 was filled with so many wonderful performances and films and Three Billboards' dominance baffles me.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Disappointing that Call Me By Your Name has not found a larger audience. While I don't think it was ever going to find a huge audience, I think it could have done a bit better. It had a VERY odd release strategy. Why release a film so long after the initial buzz? Also, I'm detecting a note of some people being amused by the fact that it has not achieved more success--which, frankly, I find obnoxious.

I actually thought the film was an improvement on the book. I know the novel is beloved, but it didn't quite live up to the hype for me. It's a good read, and I was moved by the end --but I found stretches of it in the beginning to be not terribly well-written.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

With the SAG awards tonight, it's sad to see such an unpredictable season turn so basic by awarding 3 Billboards. Why.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

Frankly, I'm not at all surprised the movie's received more acclaim than the novel, since it does away with most of the novel's thornier aspects, like Elio's stream-of-consciousness and neurosis, and the sexual "perversions", as well as the entire last act. It's incredibly easy to digest and take in.

I agree it's very patchy at times (writing-wise), and Aciman gets in his way trying to show the reader how intelligent he (and Elio) is. Very pretentious. Still, the man IS an intelligent creature, and the novel more than stands on its own two feet, almost because of such imperfect qualities.

You shouldn't read too hard into people who don't adore the movie as much as you or others who love nearly every aspect of it... Opinions are just opinions, after all. And remember, as obnoxious as you may find "people being amused" that it hasn't quite caught on, box-office wise...

They find the ire and excessive praise of CMBYN's acolytes equally so. :)

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManny

I think SPC confused the film being set in 1983 with a release strategy from 1983. WAY too many people saw it online (although that's far from the only reason for the weak box office). The real culprit is lack of awareness. I've only ever seen ads for this on CNN and MSNBC. Add to that the theatres it has opened in outside of the major centers are small, small theatres with seats for 6-9 dollars. All of this adds up. The most important thing is we have it, it exists, soon we'll be able to see it whenever we want (I saw it in a theatre for the seventh time today). Anyway, it is what it is. If you love the movie, tell your friends and co-workers.

January 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhepwa

All anecdotal - The wait was definitely too long. My friends saw it when it leaked because the chatter about this movie started in January 2017, and unfortunately, there were only a couple of us who held out. The current political and social climate doesn't help, as the friend group split into camps of whether it was predatory and inappropriate/romantic and wistful, and while that likely would have happened even without current events influencing it, it has certainly heightened awareness of it. The movie itself was surprisingly divisive within my group, which surprised me and lowered my expectations and therefore my excitement as well - we tend to agree more often than not and there was a sharp divide on the opinions regarding its quality.

I feel a tad sorry for Armie Hammer, in as much as one can feel sorry for a wealthy good looking man with a gorgeous family. In one of his interviews, he cited something in jest he called "the Armie Hammer effect" in which his projects fail commercially due to other circumstances. It appears to have struck again.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

It should've come out in summer, simple as that. It would've been a nice connection to walk out of the theater and feel some sunshine in some short shorts, instead of bundling up to fight below freezing temps. As many have said before, the slow platform after an extremely long festival season just seemed like an odd strategy, and even the idea of waiting for "Oscar season" is becoming an increasingly risky venture. The last Best Picture winner released after November (outside of festival screenings) was The King's Speech!

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Manny you write:

a problematic but able adaptation of an equally imperfect and problematic book read by exactly 100 people back in 2007.
Hmmm. I think you're underestimating the book. It was a bestseller (if not a 50 shades kind of blockbuster) and I know *tons* of people who have read it and I'm not even that social ;).

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Sony Pictures Classics waited too long to expand it wide. When I saw it in theaters, I had to take a train to see it at a small CT arthouse theater because it wasn't playing near me.

The platform release works but you still can't wait two damn months to expand it wide.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

Finally got to see Phantom Thread and it exceeded my expectations. Now my favorite PTA. Beautiful to look at, incredibly well acted - felt both very old-fashioned and incredibly modern. Much funnier than I would've thought - like a twisted romantic comedy by way of Hitchcock. Highly recommended!

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjcon

Meu "Me Chame pelo Seu Nome" está morto
Será que teres p que é necessário para esmagares meus "3 anúncios para um crime"?

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTheBoyFromBrazil

This movie hit peak buzz two months ago. I understand you can't go wide immediately with most smaller movies but the super slow roll out was a mistake.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

I wonder if SPC wasn't prepared for the following Call Me By Your Name garnered right out of the gate when it opened, and then wasn't able to get more screens because the market was so crowded. In other words, they realized too late that the iron was hot enough to strike right away.

Of course, the long-term platform release model is also VERY outdated now, and they should have realized that the conversation began so early on this one that waiting that long to expand was a losing strategy.

ANYWAY... I saw Phantom Thread over the weekend, which I was not looking forward to but ended up being pleasantly surprised by. Lesley Manville was EASILY best in show - every glance is positively dripping with legendary shade, and I ate it up. As always with PTA though, I didn't care for the ending, which seemed to come out of nowhere.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Saw Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool. It is strangely playing at one very random, remote location in Chicago. Thank god for Nick Davis' tweet about seeing it or I would have missed it completely (I thought it was opening up later this month or Feb?). Such a weird distribution for that film, like Claran pointed out.

Anyway, the film is charming and lovely and the actors are great. But poor Bening just can't seem to get her great work seen by anyone lately.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I saw Phantom Thread yesterday and I can easily say that it falls into my "most overrated" awards show bait of the season. The only movies I liked even less in that category are 3 Billboards and Downsizing. Still, Daniel Day-Lewis looks gorgeous and that's a good way to end your career I suppose.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

*Of course* I saw Shape of Water Saturday, after turning in my Team Experience ballot in time for the Friday deadline. Shape of Water immediately shoots to #3 in my top ten, so there you are. What an extraordinary film.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

I, too know someone who watched CMBYN on line because he assumed it was never coming to his town. Now it's there, but he's seen it. Oh, well.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDanno

Just to give you a more specific idea of how SPC mishandles this, compare two films. Both were Sundance acclaimed films. Both were with young female leads. One scored 87 on metacritic, the other 85. Rotten tomatoes scores also very similar. Both got the exact same nominations from the oscars (best picture, actress, adapted screenplay)..

An Education, released by SPC, made 12.5 million dollars. It was in limited release for 17 weeks and only got more than 100 screen at six weeks.

Brooklyn, released by Fox Searchlight, made 38.3 million dollars. It was in limited release for three weeks, hit more than 100 screens in it's third week and went wide the 4th.

And there are tonnes of examples of stuff like that throughout their history.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I really don't see how could make "CMBYN" a mainstream hit- it's not "Brokeback Mountain" which the strong female characters not too mention the universal theme of secret romance. A lot of straight people really seemed to be bothered by the age difference between the lovers- I think our society still looks frown on this- is anyone rushing to make the Kevin Spacey story?

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

When the film hit Sundance last year, my excitement for the film was at an all-time high. So I waited... and waited. And waited. As I waited, more critics saw the film and kept telling all of us how amazing it is. I waited. Waited. Waited. The film started making its way into Best of the Year lists and Chalamet won a few awards. And yet I was still waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Hey distributors, don't make us way too damn long.

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

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