The Brendan Fraser-starrer drama film 'The Whale' surpassed $10 million at the domestic box office, a notable milestone for an indie movie in the pandemic era.
In pre-COVID times, those ticket sales wouldn't have been particularly impressive. But the art house sector has struggled to rebound as adult audiences remain selective as ever about movie choices, reports Variety.
Turnout for prestige dramas, such as 'Tar' ($5.7 million), 'She Said' ($5.8 million), 'Triangle of Sadness' ($4.1 million), and 'Women Talking' ($393,985), range from disappointing to downright dismal.
'The Fabelmans', the latest from Steven Spielberg, isn't outpacing 'The Whale' by much, with $13 million till date, while director Martin McDonagh's dark comedy 'The Banshees of Inisherin' has been trucking along with $9.1 million so far.
As per Variety, when it comes to 2022 releases, only one indie, A24's timeline-bending 'Everything Everywhere All at Once', became an undisputed commercial hit, generating $100 million globally.
'The Whale' stars Fraser as a college professor who suffers from severe obesity. The film opened in limited release in early December. It grossed $360,000 from six theatres (translating to $60,000 per screen), ranking as the highest per-theatre average of 2022, as well as the second-largest for a limited release since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'The Whale' had a staggered rollout in the following weeks, remaining on six screens in its second weekend, expanding to 600 screens in its third, 625 in its fourth, and 800 screens in its fifth weekend. By week six, it cracked 1,500 venues and, pending awards nominations, it'll continue to add to its theatre count in the new year.
Unlike 'Tar', 'Triangle of Sadness' and other acclaimed indies, 'The Whale' has managed to sustain momentum as it expanded its theatre count.