Ari Aster’s ‘Beau Is Afraid’ Scores Biggest Indie Box Office Opening of 2023

box office beau is afraid biggest arthouse opening

“Beau Is Afraid,” Ari Aster’s latest anxiety-inducing film, is dominating the indie box office.

The A24 picture, starring Joaquin Phoenix as an anxious man who goes through a lot in three hours, made $320,396 on four screens in New York and Los Angeles. The ticket sales equate to an impressive $80,099 per site, the highest screen average of the year. It’s also A24’s second-best per-screen average, trailing only Adam Sandler’s “Uncut Gems.”

“Beau Is Scared” must now maintain its momentum when it extends countrywide next weekend. It’s been a challenge for many indies in post-pandemic times, while A24 has had success with films like “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” and “The Whale.””Tár,” “Triangle of Sorrow,” and other outstanding art-house films, on the other hand, were less successful in translating their massive screen averages—which is the important criteria for platform releases—into long theatrical runs. After failing to connect with mainstream viewers, such flicks faded.

“Beau Is Scared” appears to benefit from the fact that A24 and Aster, the filmmakers of “Midsommar” and “Hereditary,” have passionate fan bases. The filmmaker’s latest mind-bender, however, is also his most expensive endeavour to date. “Beau” cost $35 million, so it’ll need to outperform 2018’s “Hereditary” ($82 million) rather than 2019’s “Midsommar” ($48 million) to be considered a theatrical winner. His first two films cost $10 million and $9 million, respectively.

“Beau Is Scared,” described by one media outlet as a “three-hour-long panic episode,” follows an apprehensive man’s odd journey to his hometown for his mother’s burial. The film also stars Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Parker Posey, and Patti LuPone. Even reviewers have struggled to make sense of “Beau Is Scared,” as Aster most likely intended. “It’s either the most horrifying comedy or the funniest horror film of 2023,” writes Rolling Stone critic David Fear.

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