Belle is set to top $2 million Thurs.-Mon. on 1,326 screens, according to distributor GKIDS. With Saturday’s actuals, it said, the gross surpassed $1.2M, making it director Mamoru Hosoda’s highest grossing film in the U.S. That was previously 2018’s Mirai with $812K.
Hosoda’s (The Boy and the Beast) latest film with Studio Chizu was also his first to screen in Imax and a hit in Japan when it was released last summer.
GKIDS director of distribution Chance Huskey said Belle also stands as the top grossing original anime film — meaning not affiliated with a TV franchise as most are — since 2020’s Weathering With You made $8M. GKIDS distributed Mirai and Weathering with You. Belle is by far its widest U.S. Huskey said its performing best on the West Coast, the East may be getting dinged by weather.
This is a musical film seeing lots of organic engagement on TikTok and Twitter, Huskey said, anticipating repeat viewing, especially for the dubbed version. All locations are showing subtitled and dubbed, with the dub including English-language versions of songs only available in theaters. “Some people are double-dipping. And we’re hoping people who aren’t comfortable now will come out in a few weeks,” he said.
The film is a modern take on the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast. It received a 14-minute standing ovation at Cannes last summer and had its North American debut at NYFF. It follows shy high school student Suzu, whose secret online persona, a singer called Belle, has millions of fans in a virtual world called ‘U’, where she also encounters a monster-like character called the Beast. It’s been nominated for five Annie Awards including best independent animated feature.
Belle has arthouse and commercial appeal, and skews young. That’s key in the current box office climate where booming ticket sales for films like Spiderman: No Way Home and Scream don’t’ spill over to most specialty fare, particularly films aimed at adult audiences that have been slow to return to theaters, and particularly given the a surge of Covid-19 inflections from Omicron. Huskey said the demo is like 13-24 young. “This is a true Gen Z film.”
It’s got a 95% critics and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Belle grossed $727,005 Friday and $486,421 Sat., the latter beating expectations, GKIDS said, anticipating $432,374 and $394,992, respectively, for Sun. and Mon., which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a national holiday for a three day estimate of $1,645,800 and a four-day anticipated of $2,040,792. Is currently six at the North American box office.
Also opened, Sony Pictures Classics had a solid showing for Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. It took in $24,312 on four screens in NY/LA, with a per screen average of $6,078. The documentary by former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson’s explores the history of U.S. anti-Black racism, the enduring legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it.
A big one still to come — Fathom Events presents Betty White: A Celebration in 1,529 locations nationwide, an unusual one-day-only special event honoring the actress who died Dec. 31 just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. The star-studded reflection on White’s life and career, which had already been set by filmmakers Steven Boettcher and Mike Trinklein to celebrate her centennial Jan. 17, will run three showtimes at 1 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm.
There’s not much else new in specialty. Notable holdovers include SPC’s Parallel Mothers by Pedro Almodovar with Penelope Cruz that reported $129K on 50 screens (up from 18 last week) in week four. That’s a PSA of $2,580 this weekend and a cume of $376,093.
Licorice Pizza from United Artists Releasing, steady in 772 locations in week eight. The distributor reported $252K Fri. and $360K Sat.
UAR’s House Of Gucci, also in week eight, on 1,307 screens, saw $205K Friday and $311 Sat.
A24’s Red Rocket will gross an estimated $50,077 over four days on 82 screens for a cumulative of $991.9K
Sideshow/Janus Films said Drive My Car expanded to 65 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $78,086, or $1,201 per screen, over three days and $94,086, with a $1,447 PSA, for four with a total estimated cume of $524,054.
Reliance Entertainment’s cricket-themed film 83 passed $4 million in week four.
Animated documentary Flee from Neon is down to two theaters in week seven with a $550 PSA and a cume of $62K through Sunday.