By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 10, 2010 at 5:44AM
While "Avatar" continued its staggering reign at the top of the charts - hitting the $400 million mark and then some - the specialty box office was generally unspectacular with few notable debuts and a bunch of awards-hungry holdovers trying to hang in there until Oscar nominations. Among those debuts was another film starring "Avatar"'s Sigourney Weaver - Tim Allen's directorial debut "Crazy on the Outside," which posted far from Avatarian numbers.
Released through DIY company Freestyle Releasing, "Crazy" - which also stars Allen himself, Ray Liotta and J.K. Simmons - grossed a meager $75,450 from its 75 screens, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. That translated into a $1,006 average and the suggestion that "Crazy" won't be around in theaters for much longer.
Nicer numbers for a very different film came care of Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's modern-day cowboy doc "Sweetgrass," which debuted on a sole NYC screen. Released through The Cinema Guild, the film grossed a decent $10,403 - giving it one of the weekend's highest per-theater-averages (though, again, from a single screen). Since opening Wednesday, "Sweetgrass" has grossed $13,397.
Meanwhile, The Weinstein Company released their delayed Michael Cera vehicle "Youth In Revolt" to a wide screen count, and saw their recent (mostly "Nine" related) woes continue. The film - which was given the unfair advantage of opening against the similarly young male skewing "Avatar"'s continued domination - grossed only $7,000,000 from its 1,873 screens. It's not a horrible number - and its $3,737 average bested nearly half of the overall top ten - but it is Cera's worst wide debut, and probably not what the Weinsteins were hoping for.
Speaking of "Nine," the expensive star studded musical dropped out of the top ten this weekend, seeing its grosses drop an expectedly dreadful 59%. On 1,060 screens, it grossed only $1,618,000, and averaged just $1,526. After four weeks, the film has grossed $16,840,000, and should end up with a final gross of just over $20 million. That's about the same gross as 2005's December-released musical flop "The Producers," though that film didn't cost a reported $80 million.
Better news came with Sony Pictures Classics' rather aggressive expansion of Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." After two weekends of fantastic numbers in very limited release, Heath Ledger's final film went from 4 to 552 screens, and saw a good - but not fantastic - result. "Parnassus" grossed $1,706,507 and nearly cracked the overall top ten, outgrossing a number of films (including "Nine") that were on twice its screens. However, its $3,091 per-theater-average, while respectable, was certainly not ideal. Including its limited release, "Parnassus" has now grossed $2,105,637.
SPC also continued expanding two other films - Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" and Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon." "Embraces" held up quite nicely in its eighth weekend. On 111 screens (up 40 from last weekend), "Embraces" grossed another $385,000 - averaging $3,473 and bringing its total to $2,561,849. Though approaching "Volver"'s $12,899,867 seems unlikely, "Embraces" should find a very healthy final gross.
"Ribbon," which had last weekend's top debut, went from 3 to 5 screens and saw its per-theater-average cut in half. The Palme d'Or winner and foreign language Oscar hopeful grossed $50,477, resulting in a still-strong $10,095 average and a $170,627 cume.
A few other Oscar hopefuls also expanded. The most aggressive was Paramount's "Up In The Air," which added 323 screens to bring its count to 2,218. The result wasn't optimal, as the Jason Reitman-directed film dropped 34% in grosses, taking in $7,100,000 and bringing its total to $54,742,000. Still, Oscar nominations could give the film an extra boost soon enough, though $100 million is a bit more of a question mark than it once seemed.
A less likely Oscar contender - Apparition's "The Young Victoria" - upped its screens by 311, bringing the count to 476. That resulted in a mild 23% bump in grosses, with the Emily Blunt-starrer taking in only $1,097,000 for a $2,305 average. Overall, "Victoria" has now grossed a decent $4,405,600.
Finally, two best actor Oscar hopefuls saw their films continue to do varying degrees of decent business. Fox Searchlight's "Crazy Heart" - starring Jeff Bridges - went from 12 to 33 screens and found a 97% gross increase. "Heart" took in $435,000, averaging $13,182 - the highest PTA of any film besides "Avatar." After four weekends of limited release, "Heart" has grossed $1,219,621. Bridges's competition, Colin Firth, saw his "A Single Man" go from 46 to 48 theaters, and drop 26% in grosses. That still made for a respectable $358,000 gross and $7,458 average, taking "Man"'s total to $2,284,000.
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..