Box Office: Bruce Springsteen's 'Western Stars' Sings Quietly in Official Debut

Western Stars - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

The music-infused doc earned $560,000 over the weekend, compared to $862,000 for Kanye West's experimental 30-minute film 'Jesus Is King.'

Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars didn't quite feel the beat in its official box office debut, earning a disappointing $560,000 from 537 theaters over the weekend.

Combined with grosses from preview sneaks hosted by Fathom Events on Oct. 19 and Oct. 23, the documentary has earned $1 million to date, according to Warner Bros.

Western Stars showcases Springsteen performing all 13 songs on his first studio album in five years. It also includes archival footage, personal narration and guest appearances.

The doc — which marks Springsteen's feature directorial debut — is set in his historic barn, where he's backed by a band and full orchestra. He shares a co-directing credit with his longtime collaborator, Thom Zimny.

The project was championed by Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich, whose studio acquired Western Stars this summer before the pic made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"While it seems that everyone loves Bruce Springsteen, a documentary showcasing the performance of his new album in its entirety may have been a draw strictly for the die-hard fans and thus was unable to break out to a broader audience," says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. "But you have to appreciate it when a studio serves the content and the artists involved, not just the bottom line."

Warners is also home of New Line's Blinded by the Light, a coming-of-age tale about a Pakistani high schooler in Margaret Thatcher-era England who is inspired by Springsteen's music. (Acquired out of the Sundance Film Festival, the pic, which bowed in August, was a box office miss.)

Comparisons are tough, since Western Stars isn't a traditional concert movie. Nor was Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light, a retrospective of the career of The Rolling Stones that opened to $1.4 million from 276 theaters in 2008, not adjusted for inflation. In terms of concert-tour pics, releases focusing on Miley Cyrus ($31 million) and Justin Bieber ($29.5 million) hold the records.

Springsteen wasn't the only high-profile recording artist in cinemas over the weekend touting a new album.

Kanye West's experimental, 30-minute film Jesus Is King debuted exclusively in 440 Imax locations around the globe, earning $1 million. Of that, $862,000 came from 372 sites in the U.S.

Filmed over the summer in partnership with Imax, Jesus Is King brings West's Sunday Service to the big screen and was set in artist James Turrell's Roden Crater, an installation in Arizona's Painted Desert that's off-limits to the public. The pic features 13 songs arranged in the tradition of gospel, along with music from West's new album. (The first trailer for Jesus Is King was released Oct. 17.)

Domestically, Westerns Stars' location average was $1,042, while Jesus Is King's was $2,317.