Everything Isn’t Terrible: People Are Seeing ‘Loving’ and ‘Moonlight’

Reporting the box office can be a grim bit of business these days, as the hard numbers pertaining to what people actually want to see so often confirm the giant-tentpoles-only model of the majors – witness, for example, the $84.9 million domestic opening weekend for Doctor Strange (it’s fine). But this week’s art-house numbers are very encouraging indeed, reflecting as they do heavy turnout at really good movies.

For instance, Jeff Nichols’s wonderful Loving opened on four screens in New York and Los Angeles with a total gross of $169,000 – a per-screen average of $42,250, or (to put it in blockbuster terms) double the per-screen of Doctor Strange. That’s a very good start for the film’s slow roll-out, and positive word of mouth could help turn it, per Indiewire, into a “fall specialty smash” along the lines of Hell or High Water and Eye in the Sky.

Or Moonlight, which is continuing its slow but effective rollout, creeping up to 83 theaters nationwide last weekend and adding $1.3 million to its coffers. That makes for a cumulative gross of just over $3 million – good numbers already for a story this modest and personal, and which will only get bigger as it goes wider and racks up more year-end honors.

In other words, everything isn’t awful at the movies! Now let’s see if that holds for the rest of the culture…