Death penalty dramas Clemency and Just Mercy got off to strong starts in limited release at the Christmas weekend box office.
Clemency opened Dec. 27 in New York at the Angelika Film Center and in Los Angeles at the Landmark Theatre for an Oscars qualifying run. Over three days, the film earned an estimated $37,078 for a per theater average of $18,539, according to Comscore.
The Neon release from writer-director Chinonye Chukwu stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden preparing to face the next inmate in line for execution.
Inspired by a true story, the drama centers on the psychological and emotional toll the death penalty takes on the warden after years of overseeing executions. The cast includes Aldis Hodge, LaMonica Garrett, and Wendell Pierce.
Critics have embraced the film, giving it a 91 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes for its “remarkable” and “detailed” approach to an extremely difficult subject.
Clemency won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019, and more recently picked up three Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations. The drama will expand to more cities next month.
Just Mercy, another gripping movie about capital punishment opened on Christmas day in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Over the weekend it earned $110,000 for a per theater average of $27,500.
The Warner Bros. release follows the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a black man wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman in rural Alabama. Attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) fights to prove McMillian’s innocence and save him from the electric chair.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film is based on Stevenson’s bestselling memoir by the same name. Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, and Karan Kendrick also star.
The film has an 81 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. It has won several critics awards, and recently earned Foxx a SAG nomination in the best supporting actor category.