Race-car doc 'Senna' is off to a swift start at the box office
The film, which debuted in one theater in Los Angeles and another in New York this weekend, collected $66,075 for a solid per-theater average of $33,038, according to an estimate from distributor Producers Distribution Agency. "Senna" is the second release for the company, which was founded by John Sloss' Cinetic Media last year, when it distributed the Oscar-nominated documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop" from the street artist Banksy.
"Senna" explores the legendary driver's rivalry with French competitor Alain Prost, and is told entirely through the use of archival footage. Since premiering to positive buzz at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the film has played well overseas, where Formula One racing was founded and is extremely popular. The documentary, which is being released overseas by Universal Pictures, has opened in seven foreign markets, including Australia and the United Kingdom, and has so far grossed $7.2 million there.The movie is slated to debut in Mexico, New Zealand and Korea over the next few months.
Meanwhile, "Senna' will expand to 11 markets stateside next weekend. Sloss said that when final ticket sales for the picture are counted Monday, the movie could have the biggest per-theater average of any documentary to open in limited release so far this year. As of Sunday, the film was a few hundred dollars below the debut of “Bill Cunningham, New York,” which started off with a per-theater average of $33,677 in March.
After the movie’s solid debut in theaters domestically, Sloss said he was encouraged that the picture would have strong word-of-mouth in the weeks to come.
“We knew we’d get a lot of motor racing enthusiasts, but there were also a lot of women who we saw in theaters,” he said. “This film has always appealed disproportionately to women -- it plays better with them than even motorsports fans.”
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Ayrton Senna, the focus of the documentary "Senna." Credit: Producers Distribution Agency.