The big screen debut of Marcel The Shell With Shoes On opened at $170K on six screens in New York and LA, the highest PSA of the weekend at $28,267 for the iconic lonely snail voiced by Jenny Slate.
The mock documentary about the loveable anthropomorphic mollusk hails from distributor A24, a distributor that manages to hit pay dirt more often than not, and is based on the popular YouTube series and illustrated kids’ book.
“It takes at least 20 shells to have a community,” Marcel says in the film. “My cousin fell asleep in a pocket and that’s why I don’t like the saying, ‘everything comes out in the wash.; Because sometimes it doesn’t.” He loves 60 Minutes “because Leslie Stahl is absolutely fearless.” It’s a combination of stop-motion and traditional animation and live action with Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann and Stahl.
Once part of a sprawling community of shells, Marcel and his grandmother now live alone as the sole survivors of a mysterious tragedy. When a documentary filmmaker discovers them amongst the clutter of his Airbnb, the short film he posts online brings Marcel millions of passionate fans, as well as unprecedented dangers and a new hope at finding his long-lost family.
The film by Dean Fleischer-Camp and Slate (100% with critics, 91% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes) expands into five more top markets — Austin, San Francisco. Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Boston — next weekend and will be in the top ten July 8 with a slow platform rollout building throughout the summer.
Marcel grossed$169,606 (Fri. – $82,188; Sat. – $47,253; Sun. – $40,165).
Also in specialty: Neon opened Beba to a debut of $5,428 in three locations in NY and LA for a PTA of $1,809. This is Rebeca “Beba” Huntt’s self-reflection on her upbringing in NYC and lingering generational trauma.
Flux Gourmet from IFC Midnight opened in 19 locations to $5,000 for a PTA of $263. The offbeat Berlin Film Festival Encounters feature by writer-director Peter Strickland follows a fictional culinary performance collective.
(IFC Films’ Official Competition with Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz grossed an estimated $50,250 on 26 screens in week two, up from four for a per-theater average of of $1,932 and a cume of $92,690.)
Utopia’s Facing Nolan, the documentary about Major League Baseball and Texas icon Nolan Ryan that premiered at SXSW and at the Texas Rangers’ stadium before a nationwide one-night-only special event in May with Fathom (that grossed $320K). Utopia played it on 69 screens Friday, primarily across TX, with support from AMC, Regal, Studio Movie Grill, LOOK and other exhibitors, taking in another estimated $40K for a cumulative gross to date of $366K to date. The film expands to more screens next week ahead of a PVOD release July 19.
There’s a bit of wide-release crush at the box office this weekend including Top Gun: Maverick, which passed $1 billion, and Elvis and The Black Phone strong. The good news for specialty is that the first two films are drawing the older demos that are key for arthouses.
JugJugg Jeeyo, a Hindi-language family comedy-drama directed by Raj Mehta, from Moviegoers Entertainment, grossed an estimated $725K at 318 theaters — coming in at no. 7 at the North American box office.