Don Cheadle’s "Miles Ahead" opened to a very strong $122,751. Yes, that doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but when you dig below it, you’ll find out that the film opened in a very limited release (just 4 screens) nationwide, giving it a per screen average (which is the more important number here) of $30,688 – the highest per screen average of any movie opening this weekend, or already in theaters. To put that figure into some perspective, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" opened the previous weekend on over 1000 times more screens (4200) and earned a per screen average of $39,000 – just $9,000 more than what "Miles Ahead" did.
Now that certainly doesn’t mean that if "Miles Ahead" also opened on 4200 screens it would’ve earned the $166 million that "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" did. But it does suggest that, with a $30,688 per screen average opening weekend, there is very strong interest in the film – at least, at the outset. A 68% Rotten Tomatoes critics score is good enough, but obviously not great! A higher score is always preferable. But, as we’ve seen, that isn’t always of any influence on ticket sales. And, as noted, the per screen average of the film’s opening weekend tells us that there was a lot of interest in it from audiences, given the subject and the respect for the filmmaker/actor who created it.
How the film performs in the coming weeks is anyone’s guess. Sony Pictures Classics – the distributor – does plan to gradually expand its reach, opening it in more theaters around the country, so more of you will finally be able to pay to see it. So we’ll look to a month from now, when I think we’ll start to get a better idea of how it’s being received around the country, instead of just in New York and LA.
Even though my review of the film suggests that I wasn’t in love with it as much I wanted to be be, I hope it continues to do well. Cheadle took some chances that others may have run away from, given the iconic figure whose life he captures a part of in "Miles Ahead," and even though some of those risks don’t work effectively, it’s still definitely a film to see – especially on the big screen.
We may not get another Miles Davis film for quite some time. There’s a second project in the works that will be directed by George Tillman Jr. The film will be loosely based on Gregory Davis’ book, "Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis" (Gregory Davis being Miles Davis’ eldest son). The plan for Tillman’s project, which will be called "Miles Davis, Prince of Darkness," is to produce a more conventional biopic (the producers previously mentioned "Walk The Line" and "Ray" as potential models that they’ll follow). No word on where this one currently stands.
By the way, also opening this past weekend was the Mike Epps comedy "Meet the Blacks," which earned just over $4 million, opening on 1,015 screens, for a per screen average of $4,026. It probably wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it scored a terrible 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Since it opened on quite a lot more screens than "Miles Ahead" did, I assume that some of you saw it. If so, thoughts?