NORTH AMERICA: Platform Watch: ‘Měi Rén Yú (The Mermaid)’ Strong with $1.02M Platform Launch from 35 Locations

Měi Rén Yú (The Mermaid) was off to a terrific start this weekend with an estimated $1.02 million from 35 locations, for a per-location average of $29,000. The Stephen Chow directed Mandarin-language fantasy comedy is the highest grossing film ever in China and looks like it’s in store for a strong performance in North America (where it’s being distributed by Sony). Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle was also a strong performer in North America (for Sony Pictures Classics) back in 2005. That film launched in platform release with $269,225 from 7 locations (for a per-location average of $38,460), took in $6.75 million in its first weekend of wide release and ultimately finished with $17.11 million in North America. Sony currently plans to expand Měi Rén Yú (The Mermaid) into roughly 25 new locations next weekend.

Oscilloscope’s Embrace of the Serpent was off to a good platform start with an estimated $50,165 from three locations in New York and Los Angeles. That gave the Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film from Colombia a per-location average of $16,722 for the frame. Embrace of the Serpent has grossed $61,374 in five days since debuting in New York on Wednesday. The film has received terrific critical reviews, as it currently boasts a 98 percent Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes. Oscilloscope plans to expand Embrace of the Serpent into roughly 20 new locations next weekend in the Bay Area and in the New York and Los Angeles suburbs.

Upon expanding into moderate release this weekend, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Lady in the Van took in an estimated $1.50 million from 540 locations, for a per-location average of $2,780. The Nicholas Hytner directed film starring Maggie Smith was up 171 percent from last weekend, when the film was playing in 410 fewer locations. The Lady in the Van continues to have a solid platform run with $3.81 million in 38 days (and an additional one-week Oscar qualifying run back in early December).

Fox International Productions’ Neerja was off to a nice start this weekend with an estimated $585,315 from 73 locations, for a per-location average of $8,018. The Hindi-language drama thriller starring Sonam Kapoor did open well below the $2.43 million debut of Kapoor’s last film, last year’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, though that film did have a significantly larger initial count of 287 locations.

Lionsgate and Pantelion’s Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer debuted in moderate release with an estimated $900,000 from 357 locations, for a per-location average of $2,521. The Spanish-language romantic comedy starring Sandra Echeverría and Arath de la Torre delivered a modest opening weekend performance with Pantelion Films’ previous box office standards in mind.

In its second weekend of release, Drafthouse Films’ Where to Invade Next registered an estimated $560,210 from 275 locations, for a per-location average of $2,037. The Michael Moore directed documentary was down 38 percent from last weekend, though it should be noted that the film was playing in 33 fewer locations this weekend. Where to Invade Next has grossed $1.99 million in ten days. While that would be a good performance for most documentaries, the film is also on course to perform well below each of Moore’s previous four films.

Estimated grosses for Academy Award Best Picture nominees currently in limited release this weekend included $875,000 for Paramount’s The Big Short (from 432 locations), $728,000 for Fox Searchlight’s Brooklyn (from 443 locations), $515,216 for Open Road’s Spotlight (from 401 locations) and $417,702 for A24’s Room (from 352 locations). Respective total grosses stand at $67.12 million for The Big Short, at $38.10 million for Spotlight, at $35.33 million for Brooklyn and at $12.67 million for Room.

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