The surprising box office success of the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, quickly became apparent upon its debut earlier this month. That momentum incited an expansion of the film's limited theatrical run so that ticket clerks won’t have to tell potential patrons, "no, no, no."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the insightful eulogy of the late singer, Amy Winehouse, has been grossing numbers that could become potentially massive for the typically muted documentary genre. The film is already the top-earning documentary of 2015, having grossed nearly $4.7 million. However, those numbers could simply be the tip of the iceberg, as the film’s national presence continues to widen.
Amy premiered over the July 3 weekend, on the back of a paltry six-screen national presence that yielded a $222,500 opening. With reviews and word-of-mouth turning out to be practically unanimous in their praise, distributor A24 saw the writing on the wall and initiated a necessary expansion that raised the number of national screens up to 341 on July 10, which yielded $1.8 million that weekend. Yet, that initial expansion was not quite enough to sate enthusiastic moviegoers as the film’s reputation proliferated, and the ante was upped to 435 screens on July 17, which raked-in another $1.1 million. Those screen numbers will reportedly grow even more in the coming weeks, which will likely increase earnings exponentially.
Consequently, the upward trajectory of the national presence of Amy seems to indicate that the film, already a critical hit that’s being shopped around amongst the awards circuit, could become a legitimate financial boon for the production company, On The Corner Films, and the distributor, A24, who already experienced a groundbreaking moment with the acclaimed dark horse sci-fi hit, Ex Machina, earlier this year. Amy represents the vision of director Asif Kapadia, whose body of work with several documentaries and a handful of small dramas will be bolstered with the acclaim that this film continues to receive as it slowly, but surely, spreads around the U.S.
From a more poetic standpoint, all of the aforementioned success of the documentary could be seen as an uplifting surprise to fans of Amy Winehouse; at least in terms of how posterity will remember the embattled ingénue whose various vices made her fodder for the tabloids during the height of her fame. Her short life, and even shorter career as a vocal powerhouse, tragically ended four years ago on July 23, 2011 when she was found dead in her London home from alcohol poisoning at the (seemingly fateful) age of 27.
In a similar manner to the way that the recent HBO documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck successfully humanized a martyred musical figure, the heartfelt approach to Amy looks to present the late singer as a brilliantly talented individual whose self-destruction seems to be the result of the fame that made her a household name and bestowed fortunes. In that sense, the film attempts to bury the capricious party girl portrayed by the tabloids and honor the talented, sensitive individual who was engulfed by her own success.