In a rare weekend with fewer new studio releases, IFC Films scored a box office double with Matt Johnson’s film blackberry grossing $473,000 nationally from 450 theaters, for a US per-theater average of $1.05,000 and breaking into the top ten on Friday. It will gross around $740,000 in North America this weekend, with Elevation Pictures taking care of Canada.
It is the endJay Baruchel is Mike Lazaridus, the mastermind behind BlackBerry along with his laid-back best friend and co-founder Douglas Fregin, played by Johnson. Philadelphia is always sunny Star Glenn Howerton is Jim Balsillie, the aggressive executive who catapulted the device to global dominance for decades until it was abruptly overthrown by the iPhone in 2007.
Premiere in Berlin and SXSW, Certified 97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, based on the book lose signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.
The director told Deadline that he had never handled a BlackBerry before the film, but was drawn to it and the story. “In a way, I really think the device has some magic to it. Especially the shape, it’s so much smaller than modern smartphones. And with the space dedicated to the keyboard, it reminded me of the Gameboy , which is why I put so many Gameboys in the film. It was like a video game controller.
“When someone handed the book to my producer and me and asked if we would be interested in an adaptation,” he said, I felt like I was reading about my own life” – which could just as well be about cinema as “about engineers building a technical machine. It was about young people trying to do something impossible.”
The BlackBerry Storm, released in 2008, the same year as the iPhone 3G, was one of the biggest consumer device failures of all time. “The book is a piece of journalism. I would say the authors would say the book is not funny at all,” he said. “But what I was reading between the lines is comedy.”
“There were hundreds and thousands of engineers working in the company at the time who knew the iPhone was doing something better, but I don’t think that message got through to management.” Lazaridis in the film is convinced that a larger screen without a physical keyboard was a ridiculous ideal that no one would want.
“Blackberry succeeded on the heels of two thrilling and captivating performances by Jay and Glenn. Matt Johnson is a force to be reckoned with and we are thrilled that people came out for this jaw-dropping moment in cinema,” said Scott Schooman, Acting President of IFC Films.
Schooman recently replaced Arianna Bocco after the IFC chief’s abrupt departure at the end of March, followed by departures of key executives across the company. Turnover, which comes with AMC Networks amid ongoing restructuring and cost-cutting, has been a rather dramatic exodus from the world of independent distribution.
The distro also opened Andrea Pallaoro’s film Monica at IFC Center in New York and Nuart in Los Angeles at $26,000, capturing the weekend’s highest per-screen average at $13,250
Monica premiered in Venice in 2022 and received strong support from the LGBTQ community, with GLAAD teaming up for a screening of the film. Friday’s Q&A featuring the film’s stars, Trace Lysette and Patricia Clarkson, sold out in New York and Los Angeles. Expands nationwide in at least 45 markets next weekend.
Other Major Specialty Openings: Roadside Attractions » crazy paradiseCharlie Day’s feature debut, grossed $443,140 from 784 screens, for a public service announcement of $565.
Sony Pictures Classics documentary about baseball great Yogi Bera, It is not finished, grossed around $106.3k across 99 screens for a PSA of $1,074. As part of a regional campaign for the legendary Yankee, the distributor was offering free companion tickets in the New York tri-state area that are not counted in the gross.
Limited releases: Bleecker Street estimates The starling girl will net an opening weekend of $24.7,000 across four screens for a PSA of $6,184.
Music Box Films opened Emanuele Criaslese The Immensity at around $9.28k across two screens for a projected PSA of $4,640. After having played at the Venice and Sundance festivals, the star of Penelope Cruz opened for the Angelika Film Center in New York and the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles. expanding to other major markets on Friday, including Chicago, Miami, Portland and Houston.
Holdover: Another Italian photo, the Janus Films release of The Eight Mountains grossed around $30,100 from 24 screens in its third weekend, for an estimated per-screen average of $1,254 and estimated revenue of $93,772. The film will continue to expand throughout May and into June, with Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando, Sacramento, Nashville, Pittsburgh and more coming next weekend.
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