By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 31, 2010 at 4:29AM
The final film in the trilogy adapted form Stieg Larsson's Millennium series led the specialty market this Halloween weekend. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" debuted on 153 screens to find some very strong numbers for U.S. distributor Music Box Films and Canadian distributor Alliance. Directed by Daniel Alfredson and starring Noomi Rapace as heroine Lisbeth Salander, "Hornet's Nest" grossed $915,044 from 153 screens in the U.S. and Canada, giving it a $5,981 per-theater-average.
Compared to the March release of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and the July release of "The Girl Who Played With Fire," "Nest" came up slightly short. "Tattoo" opened on 34 screens, grossing $335,502 for a $9,868 average. That eventually led to a stellar $10,078,703 final gross. "Fire," meanwhile, grossed $904,998 from 108 screens, averaging $8,380 and currently standing at $7,576,753. Taking into consideration the wider debut of "Hornet's Nest"', its numbers are entirely reasonable and its final gross is likely to fall close to its predecessors.
All in all, "Nest" caps off what's been a remarkable feat for Music Box Films, a distributor that had only one $1 million+ grossing film prior to "Dragon Tattoo"'s release (2008's "Tell No One," which made $6.2 million). Combined, the Millennium Trilogy should end up grossing upwards of $25 million in North America. "Dragon Tattoo" is among the 25 highest grossing foreign language films ever in the United States, while both "Fire" and "Nest" should easily end up in the top 40.
Also opening this weekend was Samuel Goldwyn's "Welcome To The Rileys," which stars Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini, and Melissa Leo. Originally set for release through Apparition Films after a warmly received debut at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Samuel Goldwyn rescued "Rileys" after Apparition ran into trouble. After a couple of delays, it was released on 10 screens in New York, LA and Boston this weekend, and found an unspectacular $45,000 gross, averaging $4,500.
Though certainly not disastrous, the numbers suggest "Rileys" could become the third Kristen Stewart non-"Twilight" film this year to underwhelm. "The Yellow Handkerchief" and "The Runaways" (released oddly enough by Samuel Goldwyn and Apparition) both struggled earlier this year. "Rileys" expands on November 12th, which will prove telling.
Other debuts included Gareth Edwards' SXSW hit "Monsters," which Magnet Releasing put on 3 screens in New York, LA, and Austin. The result was a $21,000 gross and a $7,000 average.
IFC released "Inspector Bellamy" - the final film directed by French master Claude Chabrol - on 2 New York screens and saw a $22,400 gross. The resulting $11,200 per-theater-average was the second best of the weekend. The best, however, was that of Lucy Walker's doc "Waste Land," which was released on a single New York screen and grossed $11,562 for distributor Arthouse Films.
Among holdovers, real-life inspired drama "Conviction" aggressively expanded from 55 to 565 screens for Fox Searchlight to find some decent numbers. The true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), a woman who puts herself through high school, college and, finally, law school to attempt to free her brother (Sam Rockwell) from prison, "Conviction" took in $1,825,000. That was good enough for a spot in the overall top ten, and for a respectable $3,230 per-theater-average. The film has now grossed $2,377,614.
Searchlight could use good news from "Conviction"'s expansion after the continued disappointment of Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go," which dropped 52 screens to 126 in its seventh frame this weekend and lost 52% of its gross. Taking in $90,000, the Carey Mulligan-Keira Knightley-Andrew Garfield starring film brought its disappointing new total to $2,182,000, and shouldn't see its cume stretch much beyond that.
Better news came care of Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job" - the Sony Pictures Classics released economic crisis doc. In its fourth weekend, the film went from 24 to 34 screens, grossing $205,148 along the way. That made for a strong $6,034 average and a new cume of $623,697. "Job" should easily find a place inside the $1 million club by around this time next week.
Another doc - Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting For 'Superman'" - continued to rake in impressive numbers this weekend. The film - which takes on the U.S. public school system - went from 290 to 330 screens in its sixth weekend and took in another $500,000. That gave "Superman" a $1,515 average and an impressive new total of $4,577,826, making it the 23rd highest grossing doc of all time. However, the fact that it dropped 35% in grosses despite the expansion suggests that the Paramount Vantage released film is slowing down.
Finally, Lionsgate continued expanding its Ryan Reynolds thriller "Buried" despite its continually poor performance. Going from 88 to 107 screens, the film took in just $46,000, averaging a sad $430 and taking its total to $961,945.
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..