After just three weekends, Asif Kapadia’s Amy is quickly becoming one of the top-grossing documentaries in recent years, excluding Disney nature films and concert docs.
The critically acclaimed film recounts the life and death of British singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died four years ago today of alcohol poisoning. She was 27.
Amy has become the top-grossing documentary of the year so far with $4.7 million for A24 and is a day or two away from eclipsing the Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom, which grossed $4.9 million in 2014.
The documentary space is tough; Citizenfour, this year’s Oscar winner, topped out at $2.8 million after its release in fall 2014.
Box office observers say Amy, one of the best-reviewed films of the year (it sports a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), has every chance of ultimately earning $7 million or more in the U.S. So far this decade, the only docs to earn more than $7 million were Babies in 2010 ($7.3 million) and a pair of titles from conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza. In 2012, D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America grossed $33.5 million, followed by $14.4 million for America: Imagine the World Without Her in 2014.
A24 has already begun an awards campaign for Amy, which first opened in six theaters over the July 3-5 weekend. The doc scored a strong location average of $37,098. The following weekend, Amy upped its theater count to 341, taking in $1.8 million to zoom up the chart to No. 12.
Last weekend, Amy moved into a total of 435 theaters, grossing $1.1 million. A24 distribution chief Heath Shapiro says the doc will continue to expand in the coming weeks.
“If you look at quality in the marketplace, we are really distinctive. It’s gotten such superlative reviews, and the word of mouth has been tremendous,” he says. “We are playing in every major market, a rare achievement for a documentary. And it’s playing well in crossover commercial houses, as well as in arthouses.”
Those more commercial theaters include Pacific Theaters The Grove in Los Angeles and AMC Empire 25 in New York City’s Times Square. Amy is also pulling in some of its biggest numbers from theaters in San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
In the U.K., Amy has earned north of $3 million for Altitude.