By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 19, 2012 at 10:23AM
In a crowded St. Patricks' Day weekend at the specialty box office, Will Ferrell's Spanish-language comedy "Casa de Mi Padre" and European import "The Kid With a Bike" had the most impressive debuts, while Mark & Jay Duplass' latest, "Jeff Who Lives at Home," underwhelmed by comparison. Meanwhile, holdovers like "Footnote" and "Salmon Fishing In Yemen" both held onto the promise of their strong debuts, giving the specialty box office its second strong showing in a row.
Here's the rundown:
"Casa de mi Padre" (Lionsgate)
Lionsgate released Matt Piedmont's Spanish-language comedy -- starring Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna -- on 382 screens this weekend and saw very promising numbers. Despite mixed reviews, the film took in $2,200,000, placing in the overall top 10 even though its screen count was a small fraction of its competitiors. Its $5,759 average was the third highest in the top 10, behind only "21 Jump Street" and "The Lorax."
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" (Paramount Vantage)
Also going for a somewhat aggressive debut was Mark & Jay Duplass' "Jeff Who Lives at Home," which Paramount Vantage released on 254 screens. Starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, the film grossed only $840,000 -- averaging a disappointing $3,307. The Duplass brothers' last effort -- 2010's "Cyrus" -- incomparably averaged $45,429 from its four-screen debut; more comparably it topped the "Jeff" average when it went to 200 screens in its fourth week and averaged $6,402.
Another brotherly filmmaking duo, Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, saw their "Kid With a Bike" debut on three screens in New York and LA care of Sundance Selects. The result was a potent $51,000 gross, averaging $17,000. The 2011 Cannes Film Festival alum far exceeded the opening of the Dardennes' last film -- 2009's "Lorna's Silence" -- which averaged $5,735 from six screens en route to a $338,795 North American gross. Sundance Selects will expand the film to the top 10 markets next weekend.
"Natural Selection" (The Cinema Guild)
A year after winning big at the SXSW Film Festival, Robbie Pickering's "Natural Selection" quietly opened on one screen at New York's Angelika with a $9,201 gross. Released by The Cinema Guild, the film will expand in the coming weeks but is not off to a particularly strong start.
"Detachment" (Tribeca Films)
Not faring any better was Tribeca Films' release of Tony Kaye's "Detachment," which stars Adrien Brody. On two screens in New York, the film grossed just $11,050 for a $5,525 average. The film, currently available on VOD, will open in Los Angeles next weekend before expanding to additional top markets on March 30.
"The FP" (Drafthouse)
On 27 screens, Drafthouse Films saw weak theatrical numbers for yet another familial duo -- Brandon and Jason Trost -- and their "The FP." The film grossed only $13,206 for a dismal $489 per theater average.
"Gerhard Richter Painting" (Kino Lorber)
Corinna Belz's doc "Gerhard Richter Painting" did much better than the aformentioned trio, grossing a very respectable $14,000 from a sole screen at New York's Film Forum. The portrait of the German master has taken in $20,835 since opening on Wednesday, and will expand to major US markets in the coming weeks.
"Juan of the Dead" (Outsider Pictures)
In an exclusive run on 1 screen in Miami, Outsider Pictures found decent numbers from Cuban zombie "Juan of the Dead," taking in $12,007 over the weekend. Including preview screenings, the film has now grossed $18,005.
"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 two screens to six in its second weekend. The result was a strong $72,108 gross and a $12,018 average -- the highest of any holdover release. That tracks ahead of both "In Darkness" and "A Separation" in their second weekends.
Roadside Attractions expanded Jennifer Westfeldt's romantic comedy "Friends With Kids" from 374 to 640 screens in its second 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 Toronto Film Festival pickup grossed $1,500,350, averaging $2,344. A respectable number to be sure, but 26% down from last weekend despite the big screen boost. Either way, "Friends With Kids" has now totalled $4,230,332, making it the highest grossing specialty film released in 2012.
"Salmon Fishing In Yemen" (CBS Films)
CBS Films expanded another Toronto acquisition -- Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In Yemen" -- from 18 to 62 screens this weekend and it held up more impressively than "Kids." Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $455,000, up 101% from last weekend. That gave it a stong $7,339 average and a new total of $763,400. The film also had a extremely impressive Friday-to-Saturday bump.
"The film earned an A- CinemaScore, which along with the week-to-week and the Friday-to-Saturday jumps, confirms audiences are loving the film," CBS Films' Grey Munford told Indiewire. "We also believe that our older audience profile will help us better weather the storm of wide releases in the weeks ahead."
"A Separation" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning "A Separation" continued to impress well beyond expectation in its 12th weekend out. Going from 281 to 282 screens, the Iranian import grossed another $510,182 -- dropping off 30% from last weekend. That made for a $1,809 average and a stunning new total of $5,601,872. 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," went from 13 to 21 screens in its fifth weekend and dropped off a somewhat disappointing 9%. Taking in $52,349, the high school football doc is having problems capitalizing on its big win, averaging just $2,493. Further expansion will be the true test as to whether The Weinstein Company can turn its Oscar gold into a sizeable documentary hit, but so far the film has grossed $330,408
"We Need To Talk About Kevin" (Oscilloscope)
Outside of the Oscar winner's circle, Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" jumped from 60 to 65 screens in its tenth weekend of its official theatrical run. The result was a 35% drop, grossing a respectable $102,392 and averaging $1,575. Added to its Oscar-qualifying numbers from December, the Tilda Swinton starrer has now earned $1,204,579. Despite missing out on an Oscar nom for Swinton, the film's slow-but-sure expansion plan seems to be working. The film surpassed "The Messenger" to become the highest grossing film in Oscilloscope's short history.
"Being Flynn" (Focus Features)
Paul Weitz's "Being Flynn" expanded from 12 to 88 screens this weekend and continued to disappoint. In its third weekend, the film grossed $142,632 for a $1,621 average. The film's total now stands at only $262,618, despite the presence of Robert DeNiro, Julianne Moore and Paul Dano.
Another third-weekend release, Taika Waititi's "Boy" went from four to seven screens this weekend for distributor Paladin, taking in $21,070 for a weak per-theater average of $3,010. The film's total now stands at $72,184. Paladin will expand to Seattle on March 23 and Boston and Washington on March 30 before rolling out to theaters across the country throughout April and May.
"The Artist" (The Weinstein Company)
As for Oscar's favorite film? In its whopping 17th weekend of release, Michel Hazanavicius's best picture winner "The Artist" dropped from 1,505 screens to 1,155. The result was a steep 49% dropoff and a $1,067,000 gross. And while its average of $924 is underwhelming, The Weinstein Company are surely happy with the film's $42,132,419 total. The $50 million mark will be a struggle at this point, but for a black & white silent film with no marketable stars, this is already impressive.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.