By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 25, 2012 at 1:11PM
There's no denying the relative unexcitability today of any box office news today that isn't the record-crashing $155 million insanity that was the opening of "The Hunger Games." But that news belongs in a different column, so I digress.
While not $155 million debuts, there are actually some considerable success stories at the specialty box office this weekend, most notably the openings of Andrew and Jon Erwin's anti-abortion drama "October Baby" and Gareth Evans' much-hyped Indonesian import "The Raid: Redemption."
Here's the rundown:
"October Baby" (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
On an aggressive 390 screens, Samuel Goldwyn released Andrew and Jon Erwin's "October Baby" to very strong numbers. The film -- about a college freshman who learns she is the "adopted survivor of an attempted abortion" (so says the film's official description) -- jumped into the overall top 10 despite its screen count, taking in $1,718,427. That made for a $4,306 average, the highest in the top 10 save for "Hunger Games" and "21 Jump Street."
The film's total is actually now $1,917,869, as it technically was first received a theatrical release last fall for three weeks in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. This was timed against a “personhood” ballot initiative and backed with funding from the American Family Association (though the intiative proved unsuccessful).
Samuel Goldwyn explained that the film "was marketed to the faith audience and a significant group sales effort helped drive the box office." They'll expand the film to new markets on April 13th.
"The Raid: Redemption" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Finding the best overall per-theater-average of any specialty film (though still second to "The Hunger Games" overall) was Gareth Evans' much-anticipated Indonesian action flick "The Raid: Redemption." Released by Sony Pictures Classics after acclaimed festival screenings at Toronto and Sundance, the film took a risky move to open opposite the buzz-vacuum that is "The Hunger Games," but it seems to have paid off. On 14 screens in the US and Canada (the sole Canadian screen seeing the film released by Alliance, not SPC), the film took in $220,937. That made for a promising average of $15,781.
"The Deep Blue Sea" (Music Box Films)
Terence Davies' acclaimed Rachel Weisz-starrer opened on 29 screens this weekend care of Music Box Films and found respectable numbers as a result. "The Deep Blue Sea" grossed $120,050, averaging $4,140. Notably, its per-theater average in its Manhattan and LA theaters was $17,300, with 11 theaters in South Florida dragging down the overall average significantly.
"Musical Chairs" (Paladin)
Paladin released Susan Seidelman's ballroom dancing romance on 9 screens this weekend, and the result wasn't so romantic. "Chairs" grossed $9,100 -- averaging just $1,011.
"Casa de mi Padre" (Lionsgate)
"Hunger Games" distributor Lionsgate expanded Matt Piedmont's Spanish-language comedy -- starring Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna -- from 382 to 475 screens this weekend after a promising debut last weekend. Despite the added screens, though, the film dropped a steep 52% and took in just $1,100,000, averaging only $2,316. The film's total now stands at $3,948,252.
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" (Paramount Vantage)
Faring a bit better in weekend #2 was Mark & Jay Duplass' "Jeff Who Lives at Home," which Paramount Vantage held steady on 254 screens. Starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, the film dropped 30% from its disappointing debut last weekend, taking in $600,000 for a so-so $2,362 average. The Duplass brothers' last effort, 2010's "Cyrus," went to 200 screens in its fourth week and averaged $6,402. Clearly, interest is much lower for "Jeff,' which has now totalled $1,787,358.
"The Kid With a Bike" (Sundance Selects)
Another brotherly filmmaking duo, Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, saw their "Kid With a Bike" expand from three tp 24 screens in its second weekend care of Sundance Selects. The result was a respctable $108,000 gross, averaging $4,500. The 2011 Cannes Film Festival alum is outpacing the Dardennes' last film -- 2009's "Lorna's Silence" -- which ended up with a $338,795 North American gross. "Kid" will quickly surpass that as Sundance Selects will expand the film to the top 25 markets in the next two weekends. Its total currently stands at $173,000.
"Detachment" (Tribeca Films)
Having a disappointing second weekend was Tribeca Films' release of Tony Kaye's "Detachment," which stars Adrien Brody. On three screens (up from two), the film grossed just $10,265 for a $3,422 average. The film, currently available on VOD, has now totalled $24,882.
"Gerhard Richter Painting" (Kino Lorber)
Corinna Belz's doc "Gerhard Richter Painting" did much better than the aformentioned "Detachment" in its sophomore frame, grossing a very respectable $15,500 from its sole holdover screen at New York's Film Forum. Business was actually up 15% over last weekend, despite no new screens. The portrait of the German master has taken in $50,326 since opening, and will expand to major US markets in the coming weeks.
Another impressive doc holdover was David Gelb's "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." A look at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, the film went from six to 27 screens in its third weekend and took in a striong $180,000. That made for a $6,667 average and a potent new total of $386,393. With further expansion, "Jiro" could become 2012's first $1 million doc.
"Footnote" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Following "In Darkness" and "A Separation," Sony Classics continues to go for the foreign-language Oscar nominee hat trick with Joseph Cedar's "Footnote," which they expanded from six screens to 23 in its third weekend. The result was a strong $164,324 gross and a $7,145 average -- the highest of any holdover indie release. The film's total now stands at $328,409, with the $1 million mark also quite likely to get passed.
"Salmon Fishing In Yemen" (CBS Films)
Also promising was the third weekend of Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In Yemen," which went from 62 to 124 screens this weekend and soared 52%. Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $700,000. That gave it a stong $5,645 average and a new total of $1,626,600.
"Friends With Kids" (Roadside Attractions)
Not holding up as nicely was Jennifer Westfeldt's romantic comedy "Friends With Kids," which dropped from 640 to 556 screens in its third weekend. Starring a large portion of the "Bridesmaids" cast (Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd), as well as Adam Scott, Megan Fox, Ed Burns and Westfeldt herself, the film dropped 40% as it took in another $877,000 -- averaging $1,577. Either way, "Friends With Kids" has now totalled $5,573,681, making it the highest grossing specialty film released in 2012.
"A Separation" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning "A Separation" continued to impress well beyond expectation in its 13th weekend. Dropping from 282 to 261 screens (its first reduction), the Iranian import grossed another $248,276 -- dropping off a mild 26% from last weekend. That made for a $1,334 average and a stunning new total of $6,094,000. At this rate, the film should end up with a final gross in the $8 million-$10 million range, making it the highest-grossing foreign-language Oscar winner since 2007's "The Lives of Others" (also a Sony Classics release).
"Undefeated" (The Weinstein Company)
Another Oscar winner, best documentary feature "Undefeated," is not living up to its title. It went from 21 to 17 screens in its sixth weekend and dropped off a disappointing 49%. Taking in $27,198, the high school football doc is having problems capitalizing on its big win, averaging just $1,600. It shouldn't be able to muster too much more than its current total gross of $378,758.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.