'The Boy And The Heron'

Source: San Sebastián film festival

‘The Boy And The Heron’

UPDATED: Hayao Miyazaki’s animated feature The Boy And The Heron opened top at the North American box office on an estimated $12.8m via GKids in what the distributor said was the first entirely non-US production to do so this year.

The story of a grieving boy who enters a life-changing magical world becomes the first original animé not based on existing IP to lead the charts and only the third animé to do so after Pokemon: The First Movie in 1999 and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero last year.

The Boy And The Heron also delivered the biggest domestic hit of Miyazaki’s career, beating in on its first day the entire $5.2m run of the animation master’s last release, 2013’s The Wind Rises.

It also stands as the biggest North American launch for producer Studio Ghibi, and for distributor GKids.

The film earned an A- CinemaScore and was fuelled by the younger demographc as the 18-34 crowd accounted for 80% of ticket sales. PostTrak reported more than one-quarter of the audience for The Boy And The Heron was Asian, well above the demographic’s usual representation.

The Boy And The Heron is already an internaitonal hit, earning $101.4m internationally and now, with the North American debut, $114.2m worldwide. On Sunday Los Angeles Film Critics Association named the film best animation of the year.

There was further illustration of the appeal of non-English-language films as Toho International’s Godzilla Minus One held well in third place on $8.3m after a 26.9% drop in the second weekend for a solid $25.3m running total.

Last weekend’s champion Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé tumbled 77.1% and six places to seventh through AMC Theatre Distribution, adding $5.5m from 2,542 venues for $28.5m.

This proved forecasters right when they said the concert film would not have comparable commercial appeal as Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, a box office smash on $178m in North America and more than $250m worldwide. Beyoncé will return on Thursday for her third four-day session.

Staying put in second place was Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes on $9.4m following a 33.7% decline in the fourth weekend for a respectable $136.6m after four sessions.

After being delayed due to the SAG-AFTRA strike from its initial September 8 release date, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Venice Golden Lion winner Poor Things opened via Searchlight Pictures with a bang.

The steampunk feminist parable starring Emma Stone placed 16th on $661,000 from nine theatres for an excellent $73,444 per-site average which the distributor said was the best specialty debut of the autumn season and the best limited launch of the year to date.

Audiences skewed 56% male, 70% under-35, 62% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic, 14% East Asian/Pacific Islander, and 6% Black/African American.

Poor Things was named among the top 10 films of the year by American Film Institute and National Board Of Review last week, while Stone was just announced join best performer of the year by Los Angeles Film Critics Association alongside Sandra Huller (Anatomy Of A Fall/The Zone Of Interest).

Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe and Ramy Youssef also star in Poor Things and have joined Stone in promoting the film at Q&A’s across New York and Brooklyn. Stone hosted SNL for a rare fifth time over the prior weekend.

Poor Things will expand on December 15 into a further 17 cities, and again on December 22 into approximately 80 markets. The international launch kicks off in January.

Focus Features’ awards contender The Holdovers from Alexander Payne added $650,000 in its seventh weekend to stand at $16.4m.

Neon released Ava DuVernay’s Telluride premiere Origin, in which Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor plays author Isabel Wilkerson, and it opened on two screens for $117,063 and a $58,532 per-screen average – the fourth highest of the year to date. This is a one-week-only qualifying run for Origin, which will get its proper theatrical run in January.

Bleecker Street opened Waitress: The Musical at number wight on $2.6m from 1,214 sites.

The two Apple Original Films remain in play, with Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon now on $66.9m after eight weekends via Paramount Pictures. The crime epic is now available on digital platforms, which may be impacting its theatrical prospects at this stage.

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, distributed via Sony Pictures, added $4.2m for $53.1m after three sessions. Like Killers Of The Flower Moon, it will eventually land on digital platforms before debuting on Apple TV+.