La La Land Opens Big; Sets Indie Box Office Records

Whiplash writer/director Damian Chazelle's latest film, La La Land, kicks off its theatrical run by breaking several indie box office records.

Ruan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land

Ever since he wrote and directed 2014’s Whiplash, filmmaker Damian Chazelle has been enjoying a great deal of acclaim and attention. Whiplash, which featured Miles Teller as a relentless jazz drummer under the thumb of a tyrannical instructor (J.K. Simmons) at a prestigious New York music conservatory, was a huge hit that raked in 3 Oscars – one of which went to Simmons for best supporting actor. Now less than three years later, Chazelle is back with his follow up to Whiplash, an old-Hollywood style musical called La La Land.

Since the first trailer arrived this past summer, La La Land has been bursting with positive buzz and has picked up award after award on the film festival circuit. The fact that La La Land has two huge stars in Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is undoubtedly a big help as well, but despite it still being very early in the game, Chazelle appears to have weaved his unique magic once again. There’s already ample Oscar buzz surrounding the film, which tells the story of an L.A. jazz pianist (Gosling) who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Stone). A mixture of drama, comedy, singing and dancing, La La Land has topped numerous critics lists to date and is likely poised for even more acclaim upon a wide release.

The latest La La Land news comes courtesy of The Wrap and points out that during its five-theater launch over the weekend, La La Land has earned an estimated $855,000. This is enough to put the film at the top of the indie box office as well as making it the highest per location of all time in five theaters. Of those five theaters, La La Land brought in an estimated $171,000 per screen, which makes its per screen average the second highest of all time (just behind Wes Anderson’s Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel). What’s more, the film also now has the highest per screen average of the year for an indie film.

These early records are impressive and hint at big things to come for the film, but La La Land has a $30 million budget to make up for. Though that’s not huge, it is a sizeable one for an indie film – considerably larger than Whiplash’s $3.3 million as well as slightly greater than The Grand Budapest Hotel’s $25 million. There’s a very good chance, however, that Oscar season and wide release will provide La La Land with a box office surge – that is of course, if the film scores any nominations (which at this point is looking quite likely).

With the arrival and ongoing success of La La Land, Damien Chazelle is proving himself a highly original talent to watch out for. A huge jazz music fan, Chazelle has taken the somewhat trite adage of “write what you know” and breathed new life into it. Although his own efforts have all had a musical focus, the films he’s written for others -- 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Last Exorcism Part II -- have proven he's a talent with diverse abilities. So as the new year looms and the Academy begins to make its decisions, 2017 just might be the year that Chazelle finds himself holding Oscar gold.

Source: The Wrap

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