By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 21, 2010 at 4:7AM
Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg" led what had to be the most crowded batch of specialty debuts so far this year, according to box office estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon.
Fresh from stirring a considerable feud between critics Armond White and J. Hoberman, the Focus Features released film grossed a whopping $120,432 from just 3 screens. That amounted to a $40,144 per-theater-average, the second highest of the year behind "The Ghost Writer" and almost identical to the $40,517 Baumbach's last film, 2007's "Margot at the Wedding" averaged in its debut. And while "Margot"'s disappointing final gross of just $1.9 million goes to show that this kind of debut can mean very little in the long run, it is promising nonetheless.
"Greenberg" - which stars Ben Stiller as a fortysomething New Yorker who comes to Los Angeles in the midst of a mid-life crisis - found its best gross at New York's Angelika, where it is estimated to take in $44,528. It grossed just under that - $43,979 - at LA's Arclight, which was double any result Noah Baumbach films have generated on a per screen basis in LA in the past. Both "Margot" and "The Squid and the Whale" opened in LA to about $20,000 or so per theater.
"Greenberg"'s real test will come on March 26th, where the film hits over 160 theaters in 60 markets (check out indieWIRE's recent interview with Baumbach here).
Beyond "Greenberg," there was plenty of other notable box office news this weekend. The debuts of "The Runaways," "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," "City Island" and "Vincere" each could have been the top story in a less crowded weekend. But, since that's not the case, here's a rundown of each's performance.
Floria Sigismondi's Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning starring biopic about '70s teen band The Runaways opened the most aggressively of all the debuts, taking on 244 theaters across the country. What resulted was a decent (though definitely unspectacular) $803,629 gross, averaging $3,294.
The Apparition release's highest grossing theaters included The ArcLight (Los Angeles), Sunshine (New York), The Bridge and City Centre (San Francisco), Evanston and Century Centre (Chicago) and the Alamo (Austin). Notable also is that the film is playing to a 60-70% female audience that is largely over 25, suggestively due to the “R” rating keeping some of the younger audience (read: Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning's "Twilight" fans) away.
"The Runaways" will go wide in April, at which point its success or failure can be truly determined.
Niels Arden Oplev's anticipated Swedish import "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" - already coming off over $80 million in overseas box office - opened on 34 screens. The Music Box Films release managed a pretty impressive $340,408 as a result, averaging $10,012. This is particularly impressive due to the the fact that the film avoided a typical NY/LA platform release, making it the widest opening weekend screen count for a (non-Bollywood) foreign-language feature in recent memory. The film will expand in coming weeks.
Raymond De Felitta's "City Island" - a big winner at last year's Tribeca Film Festival - opened on two theaters in NYC and LA this weekend, and while that screen count obviously benefits it, it managed the second best per-theater-average of any film this weekend behind "Greenberg." Starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies, the family drama grossed $35,000, averaging $17,500 and becoming distributor Anchor Bay's strongest opening ever.
IFC Films released the acclaimed 2009 Cannes Film Festival "Vincere." Directed by Marco Bellocchio, the Italian import opened on two NYC screens, and grossed a decent $18,000, averaging $9,000.
Also debuting this weekend was Lorber Film's debut of N.C. Heikin's doc "Kimjongilia" at New York's Cinema Village. Potentially suffering from the onslaught of the competition, the film managed only $1,600.
Outside of all the debuts, the expansion of Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" continued to be noteworthy. Now on 819 screens, the Summit Entertainment release grossed $2,100,000 in its fifth frame, taking its total to $6,800,000. That's already nearly four times what Polanski's 2005 "Oliver Twist" managed domestically.
indieWIRE:BOT 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..