"Rita," a love story set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, grossed $21,724 at the Angelika, giving it the highest per-theater-average of any film in release. It will expand to five theaters in both New York and the Bay area on February 17th.
While it didn't end up managing an Oscar nomination, Millennium Entertainment released Oren Moverman's "Rampart" on five screens after its Oscar-qualifying run back in December. The result was a decent $65,109 gross, averaging $13,021.
Those numbers are up from Moverman's previous film -- 2009's "The Messenger," which like "Rampart," starred Woody Harrelson. That film averaged $11,131 from four theaters in its first weekend before going on to gross $1,109,660.
"We're extremely pleased with how Rampart performed," said Millennium CEO Bill Lee. "It jumped healthy amounts from Friday to Saturday clearly based on good word of mouth. We expect the film to hold well before expanding."
Openly to similarly sized numbers was Sony Classics' Oscar-nominated foreign language film "In Darkness." The Holocaust-set drama grossed $27,653 from three screens, averaging $9,188.
Finding a slightly higher average was the single-screen debut of Bela Tarr's "The Turin Horse." Submitted to the Oscars on behalf of Hungary (though not getting shortlisted), "Horse" grossed $10,391 from one screen for The Cinema Guild.
And in more Oscar-notable news, the annual collection of the short films was released on 120 screens across the country and grossed $390,000. Averaging $3,250, it marked the largest opening yet for the annual collection, both in terms of gross and screen count.
Among holdovers, The Weinstein Company expanded Madonna's "W.E." from four to 17 theaters and saw a 22% rise in grosses. While falling well short of disaster, the film's results continue to be unspectacular. It took in $57,660 over the weekend for a $3,392 average. That took the film's total to $121,807. (It's a step up from Madonna's previous directorial effort, "Filth and Wisdom" which opened to a $4,597 gross and earned $22,406.)
Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" expanded from 13 screens to 16 in the fifth weekend of its official theatrical run care of Oscilloscope. The result was a $80,000 gross and an average of $5,000 (on par with last weekend's average). Added to its Oscar-qualifying numbers from December, "Kevin" has now earned $492,854. A $1 million final gross is not out of the question, which would make it only the second Oscilloscope release to do so.
Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus" continued to stumble in its fourth weekend. The film, which had an Oscar-qualifying run back in December, grossed only $31,887 from 11 screens (down 3 from last weekend) for an average of $2,899. The film's total now stands at $268,567.
Holding on strongly was Oscar-nominated "Pina," which expanded from 40 to 67 screens in its eighth weekend. The Wim Wenders-directed 3D documentary that looks at the work of dance artist Pina Bausch grossed $257,950, averaging $3,850. That gave the substantial indie hit an excellent new total of $1,705,950, ahead of a further expansion.
Also finding strong numbers was Asghar Farhad's Iranian drama "A Separation," which Sony Pictures Classics pushed from 40 screens to 45 in its seventh weekend. The film, which just got Oscar nominations best foreign-language film and best original screenplay, scored a $288,019 gross, averaging $6,400, Its total now stands at an fantastic $1,644,616.
Both "Pina" and "A Separation" premiered at last year's Berlin International Film Festival; the 2012 edition is now under way.
Finally, two of Oscar's biggest hopefuls continue to do very good business.
Fox Searchlight's release of Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" expanded slightly from 2,038 to 2,214 screens. In its thirteenth weekend of release, it took in $3,500,000, averaging $2,213. The new total of $70,729,613 put it less than $1 million from surpassing the gross of Payne's "Sideways" -- and makes it the fifth highest grossing Fox Searchlight release ever.
Dropping from 1,005 to 808 screens , Michel Hazanavicius's "The Artist" continues to work its silent magic with a $2,286,000 gross over its twelfth weekend, a 13% drop from last weekend. Averaging $2,829 (actually a higher average than last weekend), the film's total is now $24,047,786 -- clearly a record for a film with no dialogue.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.