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Specialty Box Office: ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Elena’ Lead Debuts as ‘Marigold Hotel’ Stays Open For Business

Specialty Box Office: 'Hysteria' and 'Elena' Lead Debuts as 'Marigold Hotel' Stays Open For Business

As “The Avengers” continued to dominate the overall box office and most of the industry was busy in Cannes, Fox Searchlight continued to find fantastic numbers from the first major indie breakout of 2012, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

The film was certainly the specialty story of the weekend, which also saw a group of films debut to generally underwhelming numbers, including “Hysteria,” “Elena,” “Polisse,” “American Animal” and “Virginia”

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“Hysteria” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tanya Wexler’s Victorian era romantic comedy (about the invention of the vibrator) debuted on 5 screens this weekend for Sony Pictures Classics. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Felicity Jones and Rupert Everett, the film managed a so-so $40,829 gross, averaging $8,166.

“Polisse” (Sundance Selects)
A year after debuting at the Cannes Film Festival, French import “Polisse” hit 3 screens in New York and LA care of Sundance Selects.  Directed by Maïwenn, the film centers on the Child Protection Unit in Paris, and a photographer who is assigned to cover the unit.  It took in $17,680 over the weekend for a an underwhelming per-theater-average of $5,893.

“Elena” (Zeitgeist Films)
Another Cannes 2011 debut, Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Elena” ended up with the weekend’s best per theater average and arguably the most impressive debut.  On a single screen, the film grossed a very respectable $9,393 adding to a $13,598 cume since opening Wednesday. Though clearly aided by only being on one screen, that made for the second highest average of any film in release (after “The Avengers”).

“American Animal” (Screen Media)
Also making a single screen debut, Matt D’Elia’s SXSW alum “American Animal” took in $6,000. The film will open select additional markets over the next month.

“Virginia” (E One)
Dustin Lance Black’s long-delayed “Virginia” — re-cut significantly from what was screened at the Toronto Film Festival back in 2010 — debuted on 5 screens this weekend. Starring Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris, the film did not fare very well. Taking in $6,311, “Virginia” averaged only $1,262 per theater.

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Girl in Progress,” “Bernie” and “First Position,” continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)
Coming off a stunning $70 million (and counting) gross overseas, John Madden’s older audience skewing “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” continued to prove itself one of 2012’s first true indie breakouts this weekend.

On 354 screens (up from 178), the film — which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India — jumped 22% to gross a fantastic $3,250,000.  That gave it a glowing $9,181 per-theater-average, the highest of any film in release save “The Avengers” and the aforemetioned “Elena.”

Next weekend the film will expand to over 800 theatres. Its total now stands at $8,247,411, with a $10 million+ gross all but assured and the $20 million mark completely possible.

“Girl In Progress” (Lionsgate and Pantelion)
Patricia Riggen’s single mom film “Girl In Progress” had dropped off steeply from its impressive debut weekend.  The film — which stars Eva Mendes — held steady on 322 screens and dropped 67%, taking in another $460,000. That made for a $1,429 per-theater-average, and did help the film cross the $2 million mark. Its gross now stands at $2,138,014.

“Where Do We Go Now?” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics has had a lot of success with foreign language films recently (most notably “A Separation” and “Footnote”), but that streak is not quite continuing with Nadine Labaki’s Lebanese import “Where Do We Go Now.” Expanding from 3 to 12 screens in its second weekend, the film grossed $26,089 — averaging a mild $2,174. After 10 days, the 2011 Cannes alum has grossed $50,247.

“First Position” (Sundance Selects)
Bess Kargman’s ballet documentary “First Position” expanded from 24 to 41 theaters in its third weekend and continued to find god numbers.  The film took in $100,204, averaging a respectable $2,444. The film has now totalled $301,036.

“Bernie” (Millennium Entertainment)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater’s dark comedy did very good business in its fourth weekend out. Expanding from 36 to 95 theaters, the film jumped 133% as it took in another $511,067, averaging $5,380 (down only about $1,000 per theater from last weekend despite nearly tripling its screens).  The film will make another significant expansion on June 1st, but for now has taken in $1,114,300.

“Darling Companion” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics dropped Lawrence Kasdan’s first film since 2003 — “Darling Companion” — from 64 to 60 locations in its fifth weekend. “Companion” — starring Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins — grossed $63,336 as a result — a slight 3% drop from last weekend. That made for a $1,056 (up from last weekend) average and a new total of $424,146.

“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
Finally, The Weinstein Company continued to try and give “The Artist” one last shot as it as it kept it in 103 screens in its whopping 26th weekend of release. The results were not good.  Dropping 84% from last weekend, the film grossed just $29,500 — averaging only $286. The film has now totalled $44,552,109 and its now officially clear there’s not much more where that came from.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Indiewire tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the Indiewire Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.

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