Box Office: Gary Hart Pic 'The Front Runner' Drowned Out by Election Day
Starring Hugh Jackman as the onetime presidential candidate, the fall drama opened Tuesday in New York and Los Angeles.
Sony's plan to use the politically charged midterm elections to boost interest in Jason Reitman's The Front Runner, starring Hugh Jackman as the scandal-ridden Democratic politician Gary Hart, didn't quite work out.
The awards contender opened Tuesday in four theaters in New York City and Los Angeles to decidedly tepid numbers, grossing an estimated $6,849 for a per screen average of $1,712.
The Front Runner still has a long run ahead of it, and this weekend will provide a better indication of its standing (after all, its target audience was likely otherwise occupied with monitoring election returns). The film will expand Nov. 16 and again Nov. 21. Sony is making a major awards push for the pic, and particularly for Jackman's performance.
On its opening day, The Front Runner ranked No. 4 at the AMC Lincoln Square ($2,631) and No. 9 at Regal Union Square ($709) in Manhattan. In Los Angeles, it ranked No. 3 at the Landmark ($2,527) and No. 4 at the ArcLight Hollywood ($1,712), according to those with access to Comscore. A gross of at least $20,000 per theater would be considered solid.
Originally, The Front Runner wasn't set to open until Wednesday. In early September, Sony decided to relocate the fall drama to Election Day in hopes of benefiting from the politically charged climate.
Midweek openings outside of summer or a holiday corridor are always a challenge, but in this case, the high-profile midterm elections made life even more difficult. According to one box-office analyst, overall traffic for a Tuesday was down about 10 percent, although several films still prospered, including Bohemian Rhapsody, which topped the chart with an estimated $6.3 million. And Sony achieved a major milestone as Venom topped the $200 million mark domestically.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired global rights to The Front Runner at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Reitman's film chronicles Hart's 1988 presidential campaign, which was scuttled by reports of sexual misconduct and an extramarital dalliance with an actress and model, Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons and Alfred Molina also star.
Nov. 7, 1 p.m. A previous version of this article incorrectly ranked the theaters. The Hollywood Reporter regrets the error.