By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 12, 2011 at 3:33AM
Comedian Kevin Hart found fantastic numbers at the box office this weekend with his "Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain," a movie version of his 2011 comedy tour. According to estimates provided by Rentrak, the film - released by Codeblack Entertainment - grossed $2,000,000 from just 97 screens, averaging $20,619.
Those are pretty stunning numbers for the film, continuing the trend Hart set with the tour it's based on. Hart's 2-day performance of the tour at LA Live's Nokia Theater earlier this year broke Eddie Murphy's long standing record for an African-American comedian by raking in over $1.1 million.
The film was produced for only $750,000 by Jeff Clanagan, chief executive of noted independent production company Codeblack Entertainment, which distributed the movie domestically in AMC Theaters. It opened in 25 markets on Friday, and will expand domestically to 58 additional theaters next weekend.
The only other specialty debut to report estimates was Sundance Selects' "The Black Power Mix Tape: 1967-1975." Directed by Göran Olsson, the critically acclaimed doc explores the Black Power Movement in the United States (through footage edited together by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker). Opening on 2 screens in New York, the film grossed $20,400, averaging a very respectable $10,200.
Among holdovers, Alain Corneau's "Love Crime" expanded from 5 to 10 screens in its second frame, taking in $41,000 and averaging $4,100. Its total now stands at $98,000. "Crime" stars Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas, the latter of which is already in specialty theaters with late summer hit "Sarah's Key."
Also in its second weekend, Hark Tsui's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" held on nicely for Indomina Media. On 3 screens (the same as last weekend), the film grossed $24,918, averaging $8,306. After 10 days and on just those 3 screens, "Dee" has now totalled $103,392.
Vera Farmiga's directorial debut "Higher Ground" expanded to 56 screens in its third weekend, grossing $128,000 for distributor Sony Pictures Classics. With a $2,286 average, the film saw its cume climb to $318,000.
Roadside Attractions expanded Maryam Keshavarz's Iran-set drama "Circumstance" from 11 to 23 screens in its third weekend. As a result, the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner (released in partnership with Participant Media) took in in $57,100 for a $2,483 average. The film has now totalled $184,000.
In its fifth weekend, Asif Kapadia's acclaimed documentary "Senna" went from 47 to 40 screens for the Producers Distribution Agency and crossed the $1 million mark as a result. The feature took in another $86,900, averaging $2,173 and taking its total to $1,002,000.
Gilles Paquet-Brenner's aforementioned "Sarah's Key" also continued an impressive run. In its eighth weekend, The Weinstein Company title went from 319 to 306 theaters (the first time the film has lost theaters). As a result, the French-language film starring Kristin Scott Thomas grossed another $400,000 for a per-theater-average of $1,307. The total for "Key" now stands at $5,863,000. The film has truly become a sizable late-summer hit for the Weinsteins and the highest-grossing foreign-language films of the year.
Also doing well was Sony Pictures Classics' release of John Michael McDonagh's "The Guard." The Irish black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle expanded from 178 to 203 theaters in its seventh frame and took in $461,000 for an admirable average of $2,271 and a new milestone: It crossed the $3 million mark with a new total of $3,307,000.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday..