By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 15, 2010 at 4:35AM
The debut of David Michôd's "Animal Kingdom" led the specialty box office this weekend as the summer season began to slowly wind down. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, "Kingdom" - a crime drama set in the underground of Melbourne, Australia - found the highest per-theater-average of any film currently screening in the U.S.
Sony Pictures Classics - which picked up the film shortly after it won the World Narrative Competition's Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival - brought "Kingdom" to 4 theaters, where it picked up a $52,500 gross and an average of $13,125. Additionally, E1 Entertainment released the film on 3 Canadian screens, where it grossed a much less potent $11,582, for an average of $3,861. In total, that gave "Kingdom" a domestic gross of $64,082 from its first frame.
Also debuting was Annemarie Jacir's Palestinian-set, "Salt of This Sea," which Kino Lorber opened at New York's Quad Cinemas. It managed a $4,800 gross, and Kino Lorber plans to expand the film to Los Angeles and San Francisco in the coming weeks.
As for holdovers, IFC Films expanded last weekend's top debut - Ruba Nadda's "Cairo Time" - from 5 to 17 screens this weekend and found respectable numbers. The Patricia Clarkson romance grossed $80,903, averaging $4,759 and taking its total to $186,465. The film will expand to the top ten markets next weekend.
Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics found varied results as the distributor expanded two films. Most successful was the third weekend of Aaron Schneider's "Get Low," which went from 26 to 57 screens and held on to an excellent chunk of its per-theater-average from last weekend. The film, which follows Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a hermit who decides he wants to throw himself a "funeral party" before he actually passes, grossed $387,470. That marks a 77% increase over last weekend, and gave "Low" a respectable $7,311 average a new total of $836,702.
SPC's other holdover was Samuel Maoz's 2009 Venice Film Festival winner "Lebanon," which went from 2 to 3 screens in its sophomore frame. The result was a fair $17,002 gross, giving the war-themed film a $5,667 average. "Lebanon"'s total now stands at $48,053.
Also in its second weekend, National Geographic expanded Anthony Geffen's documentary, "The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest," from 12 to 14 screens. Employing a release pattern blending IMAX, digital and 35mm screens, "Dream" grossed $54,309, averaging a so-so $3,879 and taking its total to $185,037,
Holding steady on 19 screens in its third weekend was The Weinstein Company's release of Radu Mihaileanu's French import "The Concert." The film, which follows a once celebrated Russian conductor turn depressed, alcoholic custodian, grossed $58,158, dropping only 12% from last weekend and averaging $3,061. "The Concert," which stars Melanie Laurent (of "Inglourious Basterds" fame Stateside), Francois Berleand and Alexei Guskov, has now taken in $200,370.
In its tenth weekend, Debra Granik's Sundance prize winner "Winter's Bone," kept impressively holding on to audiences. The film, which follows a young woman living in the Ozark Mountains played by Jennifer Lawrence, dropped from 141 to 136 screens and grossed $227,675. That gave the Roadside Attractions release a $1,674 average and took its total to a stellar $4,859,165.
Finally, Focus Features' release "The Kids Are All Right" started winding down in its sixth frame, but passed a milestone in the process. Dropping from an assumed peak of 994 screens last weekend to 830 this weekend, the film took a steep 48% drop in grosses. But by taking in $1,362,252, the Lisa Cholodenko-directed "Kids" brought its total to $16,731,058. That allowed it to top Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" as the year's top specialty release, and the film should still be able to sneak past the $20 million mark in the coming weeks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday..