Davis Guggenheim's "It Might Get Loud" topped all specialty openers this weekend, according to final numbers provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The doc - which features rare on-the-road discussions with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White - grossed $92,679 from its 7 initial screens. That made for a promising $13,240 average, the fourth highest for a specialty doc so far this year (after "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Food, Inc," and "The Cove"). Sony Pictures Classics will expand the film in the coming weeks as it attempts to become the distributor's top 2009 doc, a title currently held by "Every Little Step," which averaged $8,563 from 8 theaters in its opening weekend, but held on to gross $1,684,591.
Other openers included Andreas Dresen's old-age love story "Cloud 9" (not to be confused with overall box office champ "District 9"), which grossed $6,617 from its sole screen for Music Box Films; Robert Stone's Sundance '09 closer "Earth Days," which managed just $2,408 from its one screen; and Regent Releasing pick up György Pálfi's "Taxidermia," which grossed $4,272 from 2 screen for a weak $2,236 average.
An indie-in-spirit, Hayao Miyazaki’s "Ponyo" reported so-so numbers in its 927 screen opening. The Disney-released animated film grossed $3,585,852 for a $3,868 average. While that's a higher averaged that Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" found in the wide release of its English-dubbed version ($2,483 from 711 screens back in 2003), the subtitled version of that film had already grossed $5,616,071 Stateside before the release of the dubbed edition. That suggests that perhaps Disney should have gone a similar route with "Ponyo."
Last weekend's top opener - Sophie Barthes existential comedy "Cold Souls" - expanded from 7 to 21 screens this weekend, and saw its per-theater-average drop from $9,043 to $3,363. The Paul Giamatti-as-Paul Giamatti Sundance alum, released by Samuel Goldwyn Films, grossed $70,626, taking its total to $167,173 as it continues a late summer expansion.
Another sophomore (and Sundance alum) fared even worse. Overture Films' release of Nicholas Jasenovec's Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera starrer "Paper Heart" added 30 theaters, bringing its count to 68. The film actually dropped over 20% in grosses despite over double the screen count, adding $171,528 to its now $517,414 total. Its $2,522 average - though by no means disastrous, suggests the film doesn't have much steam as it continues into expansion.
Also showing little staying power was the third weekend of Louie Psihoyos' highly anticipated doc "The Cove." After a promising opening weekend, its seen massive per-theater-average drop offs the following weekends. "The Cove" grossed $85,552 from 52 screens (a 4 screen drop from last weekend), averaging just $1,614. That's a 47% drop in grosses from last weekend, bringing "The Cove"'s total to $422,812.
Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" began its screen count decent this weekend, but also became only the third limited release of 2009 to top $10 million (after "(500) Days of Summer" and "Sunshine Cleaning"), grossing $644,194 from 478 screens. However, the Summit Entertainment release lost a big chunk of its per-theater-average ($1,348 vs. last weekend's $2,357) as it dropped from 535 to 478 theaters. Its total currently stands at an estimated $10,365,831 and it should be able to add a few million onto that before its initial run ends.
The unchallenged summer box office champ, "(500) Days of Summer," also made clear it's peaked this weekend. The Marc Webb-directed, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel starring rom com went from 817 to 1,048 screens but saw its gross drop from last weekend's $3,739,702 to this weekend's $2,967,462. The Fox Searchlight film has now totaled $17,897,509, and should easily end up with upwards of $25 million, topping last year's specialty box office champ, The Weinstein Company's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
And finally, IFC Films' "In The Loop" crossed the $1 million mark this week, hanging on quite nicely in its fourth weekend. The political satire grossed another $218,840 from an expanded 84 screens, averaging $2,605 and taking its total to $1,254,437.
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.