Amazing news from the U.S. where Irish Film Board backed films The Lobster and Love & Friendship have just opened to huge box-office returns.

the-lobster_imageThe Yorgos Lanthimos directed The Lobster not only opened at number 1 in the speciality market, but in taking $188,095 from just 4 locations set the bar for highest per-screen-average of 2016 with $47,034. That figure puts it ahead of the likes of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War ($42,390) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($39,005). This marks another huge Irish success for U.S. distributor A24, who last year took Lenny Abrahamson’s Room (also an Element Pictures production) the whole way to Oscar glory and almost €13m at the box-office.

Earlier this year A24 acquired the rights to distribute the film, following the bankruptcy filing of Alchemy (who still have Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture on their books), and having worked with Element Pictures on the release of Room they obviously saw the hit potential of the Cannes Jury Prize Winner. The film opened in 4 cinemas in New York and Los Angeles and will expand to the Top 10 markets next week, before going nationwide on May 27th.

The Lobster is a love story set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel.  There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days.  If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods.  A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules.

The Lobster is written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou and produced by Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Ceci Dempsey and Yorgos Lanthimos. Executive Producers are Andrew Lowe, Tessa Ross and Sam Lavender. The Lobster is an Element Pictures, Scarlet Films, Faliro House, Haut et Court, Lemming Film co-production in association with Limp, with financing from the Irish Film Board.

Producer Ed Guiney commented

We are all thrilled thatThe Lobster has opened so strongly in the US. Following its tremendous international success to date it’s really gratifying that its connected with US audiences in such a seismic way.

love-and-friendship_imageNot to be outdone, Amazon and Roadside Attractions’ joint release of Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen period comedy Love & Friendship opened to the third highest speciality per-screen-average ($33,188), and the fifth highest of the year, after The LobsterCaptain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Deadpool.

The film has been a hit with the critics in the US too, with its currently certified fresh at 100% on reviews aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Like The Lobster, Love & Friendship opened in just 4 key screens in New York and Los Angeles, and will expand to top 10 markets next weekend before a nationwide expansion during the two weeks after that.

Love & Friendship is based on Stillman’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novella Lady Susan, an early complete work that Austen never submitted for publication, that describes the schemes of the main character, the widowed Lady Susan, as she seeks a new husband for herself and one for her daughter.

The film stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Bennett, Xavier Samuel, Stephen Fry, Emma Greenwell, Jemma Redgrave, James Fleet, Lochlainn O Mearáinn, and Morfydd Clark. Filming took place in Ireland in February and March of last year, with Katie Holly of Blinder Films as producer, and Kieron J. Walsh as executive producer. Love & Friendship is a Westerly Films production in association with Blinder Films, Chic Films, Revolver Films, the Irish Film Board, Arte and the Netherlands Film Fund.

Commenting on the news James Hickey Chief Executive Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said:

It’s a major achievement to have two IFB funded films top the US speciality release box office in one weekend. The US theatrical distribution market is very difficult to crack for independent titles and these films show that international audiences are engaging with Irish films. Irish producers are making a major impact internationally and the success that these two films have enjoyed underlines the quality of films that Irish producers are working on.

John Carney’s Sing Street is also currently on release in the US, and has taken in almost $2 million at US box office to date.  Last year, Irish films took over $53 million at the international box office with a number of films selling every territory across the world.

Love & Friendship opens in Ireland on May 27th. The Lobster is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD.

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