It's a step up from Madonna's previous directorial effort, "Filth and Wisdom" which opened to a $4,597 gross and ended up taking in $22,406. "W.E." has already surpassed that film's final gross. Though that's not really something to celebrate.
Also opening this weekend was Ben Wheatley's acclaimed British import "Kill List," which opened on two screens and grossed $12,400 for a $6,200 average.
The highest per-theater-average of any film in release belonged to the second weekend of Shayne Edwards' doc "An Inconsistent Truth." The film, which questions the validity of the "global warming movement," grossed $12,296 from a single screen to edge out Madonna for the weekend's top average. "Truth" now totals $36,296.
Among other holdovers, Roadside Attractions held its thrice-Oscar nominated "Albert Nobbs" on 245 screens in its second weekend. Starring Glenn Close in an Oscar-nominated performance, "Nobbs" took in $533,610, averaging $2,178 and taking its cume to $1,571,553 (including Oscar-qualifying numbers). Its 23% drop holds hope for the film's future weekends.
Meanwhile, Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus" continued to stumble in its third weekend. The film, which had an Oscar-qualifying run back in December, grossed only $43,500 from 14 screens (up two from last weekend) for an average of $3,107. The film's total now stands at $211,321.
Also in its third weekend was Frederick Wiseman's "Crazy Horse," which Zipporah Films expanded from two screens to three. The film grossed $15,1590, averaging $5,050 and bringing its cume to $48,835.
Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" expanded from 10 screens to 13 in the fourth weekend of its official theatrical run. The result was a $65,000 gross and an average of $5,000. Added to its Oscar-qualifying numbers from December, "Kevin" has now earned $382,058.
Holding on strongly was Oscar-nominated "Pina," which expanded from 35 to 40 screens in its seventh weekend. The Wim Wenders-directed 3D documentary that looks at the work of dance artist Pina Bausch grossed $204,000, averaging $5,100. That gave it a total of $1,362,115, ahead of a further expansion (50 markets next weekend), which could make "Pina" a huge success story for distributor Sundance Selects.
Also finding strong numbers was Asghar Farhad's Iranian drama "A Separation," which Sony Pictures Classics pushed from 31 screens to 40 in its sixth weekend. The film, which just got Oscar nominations best foreign-language film and best original screenplay, scored a $324,293 gross, averaging $8,107 and soaring 22% in grosses. Its total now stands at $1,302,741
David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," dropped from 365 to 235 screens in its 11th weekend. The Sony Pictures Classics film, which stars Michael Fassbender as Jung and Viggo Mortensen as Freud, took in $368,719 over the weekend, dropping 33% in grosses. That made for a $1,569 per-theater-average and a new total of $4,660,591.
Finally, two of Oscar's biggest hopefuls continue to do very good business.
Fox Searchlight's release of Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" expanded to an ultra-wide 2,038 screens. In its twelfth weekend of release, it took in $4,600,00, averaging $2,257. The new total of $65,522,652 surpasses "Midnight in Paris" as the highest-grossing indie film to be released in 2011.
Expanding from 897 to 1,005 screens , Michel Hazanavicius's "The Artist" continues to work its silent magic with a $2,565,000 gross over its eleventh weekend, a 23% drop from last weekend. Averaging $2,552, the film's total has now grown to $20,584,244.
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.