Emma Seligman’s Bottoms is looking at an estimated weekend gross of $516k on ten screens with a possible leading $51,625 per-theater average for the raunchy, teenage high school girl take on Fight Club.
That’s a win for MGM, its Orion Pictures label and Brownstone Productions, producers on the modestly budgeted ($11.3 million) film written by Seligman and Rachel Sennott. The film skews young and was backed by edgy marketing — ingredients, although never surefire, behind the biggest post-Covid indie film breakouts.
Sunday’s final tally will determine if Bottoms nabs the highest per-screen average post-pandemic on ten or more screens. A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Opened to $50,131 at 10 locations in March of 2022. National Cinema Day, unspooling today, is a wildcard with attendance up but box office dollars limited by $4 tickets and seats available.
Bottoms is playing New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin at Alamo Drafthouse cinemas, arthouses including the Angelika and a handful of multiplexes. The Alamo runs are a partnership launched after the film’s buzzy premiere at SXSW. “We fit their profile,” said Kevin Wilson, head of distribution for MGM/Amazon Studios. He sees strong opening numbers at AMC Lincoln Square, Burbank and the Grove boding well as the film expands to 700 screens next week.
Bottoms stars Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri as PJ and Josie, queer high school friends who start a fight club as a way to lose their virginities to cheerleaders. Their bizarre plan works. The fight club gains traction and soon the most popular girls in school are beating each other up in the name of self-defense. But the duo find themselves in over their heads and in need of a way out before their plan is exposed.
Sennott starred in Seligman’s 2020 indie hit Shiva Baby. Edebiri broke out in The Bear.
“It’s so nice to see these little movies, especially post-pandemic, do well,” said Wilson. “It feels like the marketplace is coming back.” There have been bright spots for sure, he said, but now “you have multiple titles on screens doing business” — from wide releases to smaller indies.
He gave a shoutout to producer and Orion President Alana Mayo for Bottoms, which currently rates a 95% with critics and 100% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. Exit polls are above the norm, with women under 25 especially enthusiastic. The opening night audience for this twist on a high school coming of age drama was young, with 86% between 18-34, and 59% LGBTQ+.
Female auds (57%) have driven the most social mentions, and social conversation is indexing highest with LGBTQ+, Millennial, and Gen Z moviegoers. Bottoms has generated over 175K domestic social conversations and 45M+ global video views to date, MGM said. The studio’s theatrical marketing, PR and distribution team sought to match the film’s irreverent tone with digital activations starting with a red-band trailer that quickly generated over 25 million organic views, a media campaign that mixed prestige editorial with digital, lgbtq+ and college press outreach, and aggressive screening program that started during Pride month and included a promotion with Letterbox’d called Fight For Your City (asked fans on the site, in three rounds, which of six cities they’d like for early screenings of Bottoms). The campaign included creative social content on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as robust GIF/Stickers hub pages on Giphy and Tenor.
Other specialty openings: Golda from Bleecker Street, by Guy Nativ and starring Helen Mirren as the iconic Israeli prime minister, is looking at an estimated $1.72 million opening on 883 screens, for a weekend PSA of $1,951. Breakdown: Friday – $782,519; Saturday – $522,677; Sunday – $418,141.
Briarcliff Releasing will see an estimated $2.5+ million for Dennis Quaid-starrer The Hill, by Jeff Celentano, in 1,570 locations for a PTA of $1,602. The true story of baseball phenomenon Rickey Hill, who overcomes his physical disabilities and pastor father’s opposition to fulfill his dream of playing professional baseball, is no. 9 at the domestic box office as per Comscore. The Hill grossed an estimated $830,000 on Saturday, up 3% from $805k Friday (which included $110k from Thursday previews). The distributor is projecting National Cinema Day will provide a 6% bump today.
Music Box Films’ Fremont grossed $16k from limited showtimes at four independent theaters in the San Francisco Bay area. None of the four — the Roxie in San Francisco, the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, the Rialto Elmwood in Berkeley, and the CineLounge in Fremont — are traditional sites for high-end platform openings, the distributor noted. Fremont, which debuted at Sundance, grossed nearly $10k at the Roxie from only four showtimes. The film by Babak Jalali opens in New York (IFC Center) and Los Angeles (Nuart) next weekend, with a national expansion to follow on Sept. 8.
Greenwich Entertainment doc The Elephant 6 Recording Co. debuted in five theaters including multiple sold out shows at NYC’s IFC Center, and limited screenings in LA, New Orleans, Portland and Dallas, for a weekend gross of $10k and a cume of $14k. Additional regional limited engagements begin next week along with TVOD and DVD.