Sony Pictures Classics' release of Aaron Schneider's "Get Low" led four specialty openers this weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today. The film - which debuted at last year's Toronto International Film Festival - found the best per-theater-average of any film in theaters, including Hollywood entries like "Inception" (which led the overall box office for the third weekend in a row). "Low" took in $90,954 from 4 screens, averaging a strong $22,739.
The film follows Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a man who has lived as a hermit deep in the Tennessee woods for the past four decades. One day, he decides he wants to throw himself a "funeral party" before he actually passes and enlists the help of a local undertaker (Bill Murray). Sony Classics will expand the film in the coming weeks, in the likely hopes of it becoming a late summer indie breakout. Check out indieWIRE's round-up of the film's reviews here.
Behind "Low" was The Weinstein Company's release of Radu Mihaileanu's French import "The Concert" and Magnolia Pictures' release of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's Kevin Kline-Paul Dano starrer "The Extra Man," both of which found decent numbers. "Concert" - which follows a once celebrated Russian conductor who now finds himself a depressed, alcoholic custodian - debuted on 2 screens, and managed a decent $20,121 gross, averaging $10,061. The film stars Melanie Laurent (of "Inglourious Basterds" fame Stateside), Francois Berleand and Alexei Guskov. Meanwhile, "The Extra Man," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, similarly grossed $18,500 from 2 screens, averaging $9,250. "Man" - which follows a gentleman escort (Kline) who befriends a young dreamer (Dano) - also stars Katie Holmes and John C. Reilly. Both films will expand in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, the weekend's other opener struggled much more than its counterparts. On 5 screens, Ryan Piers Williams' 2010 Sundance alum "The Dry Land" grossed only $7,700, averaging $1,540 along the way. That does not bode well for the Iraq War-themed drama's future.
As far as holdovers went, perhaps most notable Focus Features making a really aggressive push into the mainstream for its summer hit "The Kids Are All Right." Going from 201 to 847 screens, "Kids" more or less went wide this weekend, and results were just alright. The Lisa Cholodenko-directed film - starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo - grossed $3,463,880, averaging $4,090 and taking its total to $9,565,101. While there is certainly nothing to complain about with regard to its success so far (it should soon surpass "The Ghost Writer" as the year's highest-grossing specialty release), its performance this weekend did suggest a slowing of momentum. The film marked only a 33% raise in grosses despite more than quadrupling its screen count. Comparatively, 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine," which, like "Kids," is a family dramedy that debuted at Sundance and is getting summer Oscar buzz, averaged $8,119 from 691 screens in its fourth weekend. The two films had been tracking similarly thus far. That said, "Kids" still has an excellent shot at crossing the $20 million mark, which is an ultra-rare feat for a summer specialty film these days.
Last weekend's top debut, Todd Solondz's "Happiness" quasi-sequel "Life During Wartime," went from 1 to 6 screens in its sophomore frame, and struggled to maintain the momentum of its impressive first weekend. The film features a cast that includes Ciaran Hinds, Allison Janney, Paul Reubens, Charlotte Rampling, Ally Sheedy, Michael Lerner, Shirley Henderson and Michael Kenneth Williams, and revisits the characters of "Happiness" ten years later (with the aforementioned actors each playing roles originated by others in "Happiness"). Grossing $30,420, "Wartime" actually took in slightly under what it had on 5 less screens last weekend. That said, its $5,070 per-theater-average was still respectable, and it should add a reasonable amount to its now $73,623 cume when it hits the top ten markets next weekend.
Two other sophomore films also found respectable numbers this weekend. Tamra Davis's doc "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" held onto its screen at New York's Film Forum and took in $15,874, only a slight drop from last weekend. That brought the Arthouse Films-released title to a promising $58,572 after 12 days on just one screen. Another doc, Lucy Walker's nuclear arms race examination, "Countdown To Zero," took a much more aggressive approach in its second weekend care of distributor Magnolia Pictures. Going from 3 to 27 screens, the film earned $115,000, averaging a fair $4,259 and taking its total to $168,416.
Finally, two of summer's most notable success stories continued to keep the ball rolling. In its seventh weekend, Luca Guadagnino's Tilda Swinton starrer "I Am Love" grossed $210,000 from 126 screens (down from 165 last weekend), averaging $1,667. "Love" - which details the refined world of a wealthy Italian family led by Swinton, who learned to speak Italian for the role - now has a lovely new cume of $3,606,597. A week older than "Love," Debra Granik's Sundance prize winner "Winter's Bone" also continued a potent summer as it crossed the $4 million mark. The film, which follows a young woman living in the Ozark Mountains played by Jennifer Lawrence, went from 130 to 139 screens and grossed a strong $310,800 (only a 4% drop). That gave the Roadside Attractions release a $2,236 average and took its total to a stellar $4,019,365.
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..