Going into this year’s awards race and holiday box office, one movie has been on the lips of pretty much every observer of the film market: The Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems. With a limited release putting the film onto a handful of screens this past weekend, that claim has apparently been tested and proven, as the Adam Sandler starring film has just given A24 its highest per-screen average in the studio’s already impressive history.
With only five theaters to its credit, Uncut Gems has raked in $525,498 according to the estimates from this weekend’s festivities. That translates to roughly $105,100 per screen out of the film’s initial deployment in New York and Los Angeles.
It might not sound like a lot when compared to the huge blockbuster openings we’ve seen during 2019, but for a film that was in only five theaters, that’s a pretty huge win. Especially when considering the hype that’s gone into Uncut Gems’ road to release, and eventual hopes for awards hype in the coming months.
Which means it’s a good time to mention that the previous holder of A24’s highest per-screen average was none other than director Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture winner Moonlight. Ranking in with $100,500 back in 2016, that film would go on to become a cultural moment and a startling upset when it came to the top prize at the Academy Awards.
Of course, as Deadline even mentions in its own write up of this pretty big news, this is a good omen towards how Uncut Gems could perform in its larger release. Between the Safdie Bros’ pedigree from Good Time giving them an edge, and Adam Sandler’s barnstorming performance racking up nominations left and right, the public feels ready to invest in the comedy/drama.
All of this good news could mean that Sandler doesn’t have to live up to that promise that should Uncut Gems not land enough awards in this round of voting, he’ll go back to making bad movies. Ultimately, that’ll depend on two very important factors in the months to come.
Specifically, we’re talking about whether or not the film’s stunning performance translates to a wider scale of success, and if the lack of Golden Globes nominations for the film doesn’t hinder its chances at Academy Awards glory. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but with Uncut Gems making a killing in the two cities that are primed to vote on this sort of thing, it won’t be a surprise to see Adam Sandler’s name on some ballots come Oscar season.
Uncut Gems is now playing in those five theaters sprinkled throughout New York and Los Angeles, with a wide release set for Christmas Day. That’s kind of perfect, considering it’s arguably the perfect holiday for a film that induces vicarious anxiety.