Tar, Till And Other Oscar Hopefuls Are Struggling At The Box Office

The weekend box office was largely dominated by superheroes in the form of "Black Adam" and horror flicks like "Prey for the Devil," "Smile," and "Halloween Ends." What else is new? Horror and superheroes get the job done and they have propped up the industry for more than two years now. But awards season is all but upon us, and that means studios are betting on more original fare that has an uncertain fate in the theatrical marketplace. Unfortunately, several Oscar hopefuls entered the fold this weekend and, it pains me to say, things are not looking good, financially speaking.

Let's start with "Tar," which centers on composer Lydia Tar, played by Cate Blanchett. Directed by Todd Field, the movie has garnered incredible reviews, with our own Marshall Shaffer giving it a very positive review out of the Venice Film Festival. Unfortunately, Focus Features expanded the film to more than 1,000 theaters this weekend and it made a mere $1 million, barely making its way into the top 10. With a per theater average under $1,000, things are not looking good for the movie that may well give us our Best Actress winner at the Oscars next year.

Similarly, Chinonye Chukwu's "Till" expanded into over 2,000 theaters after garnering widespread praise from critics and audiences alike. But $2.8 million was all the film about the tragic murder of Emmett Till could muster. Similarly, this film has some Oscar buzz and seemed like the kind of audience-friendly biopic that could draw crowds. United Artists is reckoning with the fact that they now have a well-liked movie that has yet to earn $4 million domestically and has a steep uphill battle to climb.

Triangle of Sadness and other unsure Oscar contenders

Meanwhile, other awards season contenders are similarly vying for eyeballs with mixed success. "Triangle of Sadness," this year's Palme d'Or winner and the latest from Neon (which distributed the Best Picture winner "Parasite") moved to 610 screens but netted just $549,000. A $900 per-screen average is not going to inspire confidence for a further expansion in the coming weeks. Granted, Ruben Ostlund's latest has earned $7 million globally thus far, but that's hardly enough to make it a hit. Nor is it nearly enough to bring it to the average moviegoer's attention.

Searchlight Pictures might have some optimism as "The Banshees of Inisherin" earned $540,000 in just 58 theaters. Whether or not the buzz can hold for Margin McDonagh's follow-up to "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" remains to be seen. We've also got the likes of James Gray's "Armageddon Time" entering the fold this weekend, earning $72,000 in six theaters. But again, it's all about the rollout.

Unfortunately, it appears as though Halloween weekend was a very bad place to expand adult-friendly films such as these. One can only hope that the outlook gets rosier as the year comes to a close at the specialty box office. Otherwise, we could be staring down the barrel of a streaming-only future for these sorts of movies.