The specialty market got a very nice boost this weekend thanks to a quartet of successful limited debuts: Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate’s "The Skeleton Twins," The Weinstein Company’s "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby," Cohen Media Group’s "My Old Lady," and Music Box Films’ "The Green Prince." Of the four, the Kristen Wiig-Bill Hader starring "Twins" was by far the most impressive, offering up one of 2014’s 10 best limited debuts. That was definitely not the case, however, for the latest "Atlas Shrugged" movie, which grossed less on 242 screens than "Twins" did on just 15.
Winner of the Weekend: "The Skeleton Twins"
Craig Johnson’s "Skeleton Twins" was far from skeletal at the box office in its first weekend out, with Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate opening the Sundance winner (for best screenplay) in 15 theaters across 5 cities. Starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings who reunite, the film took in a very impressive $410,756 for a $27,383 per-theater-average. It was the #1 film in 12 out of its 15 theaters, including the Arclight Hollywood and The Landmark in LA, and the Lincoln Square 13 and Angelika 6 in Manhattan. That’s quite something, and bodes well for these "Twins" as the film continues to expand in coming weeks. The film will open in the top ten markets on September 19th, and will go nationwide on the 26th.
Loser of the Weekend: Atlas Shrugged, Part III: Who Is John Galt?
Back in 2011, the first part of an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s conservative 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" made its way to theaters (with eventual "Orange is the New Black" star Taylor Schilling in a lead role she probably would like to forget). Budgeted at $20 million, the film was a major disappointment, grossing only $4.6 million. Somehow a sequel was made anyway (for $10 million) and that film only grossed $3.3 million. Though clearly those numbers would be a dream compared to what the third film — partially funded by Kickstarter — started out with this weekend. In 242 theaters, it grossed just $355,000 and reaching even the $1 million mark might be a tall order this time around.
This Weekend’s Debuts: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)
7. Atlas Shrugged, Part III: Who Is John Galt? (Atlas Distribution)
Weekend Gross: $355,000
Total Gross: $355,000
Criticwire Average: N/A
The Holdover Top 10: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)
2. But Always (China Lion)
Weekend Gross: $95,000
Theaters: 20 (up from 19)
Total Gross: $311,600
Criticwire Average: N/A
Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.