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by Peter Knegt
July 31, 2011 7:34 AM
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Box Office: Miranda July's "The Future" Leads Strong Batch of Indie Openers (UPDATED)

A parade of new specialty releases debuted this weekend, and with a lot of good news resulting. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, Miranda July's "The Future" led the pack, grossing a fantastic $28,185 from its exclusive debut at New York's IFC Center. The main evening shows on both Friday and Saturday were sold out for distributor Roadside Attractions, which will open the film in LA, Boston, Chicago and DC next weekend.

Sony Classics also received great numbers from a Sundance acquisition as they opened Irish black comedy "The Guard" on 4 screens. Starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, the film grossed $80,398 for a promising average of $20,100.

Joe Cornish's acclaimed British science fiction horror film "Attack The Block" opened on 8 screens and found a $130,000 gross and a $16,250. The film - which follows a street gang which have to defend themselves from rowdy alien invaders - premiered at SXSW earlier this year and was released through Screen Gems.

Lionsgate found good numbers from the opening weekend of Lee Tamahori's "The Devil's Double," which debuted on 5 screens and managed a $95,000 gross, averaging $19,000.

Steve James' "The Interrupters," meanwhile, opened on a sole New York City screen and took in $9,408 for distributor The Cinema Guild. Notable is that the film played at the IFC Center in a theater with 114 seating capacity and had several sold out shows this weekend. Friday night’s evening show was sold out on Tuesday.

Another doc, "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress," was released via Kino Lorber Alive Mind Cinema label at New York's Film Forum. It grossed an estimated $12,430 over the weekend, and $20,373 since opening last Wednesday.

"We're thrilled to finally give American audiences a taste of Ferran Adrià's culinary genius," said President & CEO Richard Lorber. "We've had top chefs and culinary experts speaking to sold out crowds all weekend, and we expect that the continued fanfare around El Bulli's closing will keep ticket sales strong as we expand the film across the country."

Not doing quite so well (but on a much more aggressive screen count) was Kevin Macdonald's "Life in a Day." A documentary shot by filmmakers all over the world that serves as a time capsule for future generations about what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010, the film opened a year after it was created to a $45,454 gross on 11 screens. That made for a so-so average of $4,132. Including the prior grosses from its screenings on July 24, 2011 (to commemorate its anniversary), the estimated cume is now $89,454

Among holdovers, Gilles Paquet-Brenner's "Sarah's Key" had a great second weekend. Expanding from 5 to 33 theaters, the French-language film starring Kristin Scott Thomas took in $369,000 for a $11,182 average. The film stars Scott Thomas as a journalist who finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the notorious Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in 1942. Its total now stands at $539,000.

Mike Cahill's "Another Earth" expanded from 4 to 20 screens via distributor Fox Searchlight. Written by Cahill and Brit Marling, who is also the film's star and generally regarded as one of 2011's big indie breakouts. Marling plays Rhoda, a twenty-something on the brink of getting accepted to MIT. Just as she overhears on her car radio that a new planet has appeared in the sky, she inadvertently crashes into a van and kills two-thirds of the family on board. Cut to four years later, Rhoda is released from jail and seeks out the one-third of that family that remains in the midst of news that Earth is sending visitors to the new planet. This weekend, the film found a mild $107,242 gross, averaging $5,362 per theater for a new total of $219,508. The film will open in 12 new markets next Friday, though this weekend's drop off doesn't bode well.

Also in its second weekend was David Robert Mitchell's "The Myth of the American Sleepover," which Sundance Selects expanded from 1 to 2 screens. The result was a $14,000 gross for the film, which follows four young people as they navigate the suburban wonderland of metro-Detroit on the last weekend of summer. That amounted to a $7,000 average, a respectable drop from the $9,100 in its debut.

Meanwhile, Sundance Selects expanded Errol Morris' "Tabloid' from 31 to 37 screens in its third weekend. After considerable success stories from "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Buck," the distributor seems to be having some good luck with "Tabloid" as well, which follows Joyce McKinney, the colorful Midwestern woman convicted of kidnapping her Mormon ex-lover in the U.K. in the late 1970s. The film grossed $77,100, averaging $2,100. "Tabloid"'s total now stands at $397,700. While it's unlikely to hit "Buck" of "Cave"-style numbers, it should end up with a respectable final gross.

The noted other recent Sundance Selects docs - "Buck" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" - continued to find numbers "Tabloid" should clearly aspire to in their 7th and 14th weekends, respectively. Cindy Meehl's "Buck" dropped from 128 to 113 screens but still managed a strong $180,800 gross. The film, which takes on a living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman (inspiration for "The Horse Whisperer'), averaged $1,600 and crossed the $3 million mark, heading to $3,014,800.

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," meanwhile, took in $33,000 from 33 screens. The fact that the film can still manage a $1,000 per-theater-average in its 14th weekend of release is a testament to how strong the film's holding power has been. The film's total now stands at $5,125,000.

Fox Searchlight's release of Wayne Wang's "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" struggled a bit in its third frame. Expanding from 61 to 91 screens, the film took in $180,185 for a $1,943 average. Searchlight noted that the film - a story set in 19th century China and centered on the lifelong friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to contend with the rigid cultural norms imposed on women - "is appealing to an older audience ." Its total currently stands at $706,819.

In its fourth weekend, Michael Rapaport's doc "Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" went from 54 to 43 screens and held on to a decent gross. "Beats" took in $126,494 for a reasonable $2,942 average. That took "Beats," which documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama of the Queens hip hop collective A Tribe Called Quest, to a strong new total of $800,545. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Focus Features release of Mike Mills' "Beginners" crossed the $5 million mark as it dropped from 157 to 147 screens. The romantic drama, starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent, grossed another $235,530 as a result, and a $1,602 average, bringing the total to $5,030,322.

Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip" went from 46 to 56 theaters in its eighth weekend. The film, which follows fictionalized versions of actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they stop at some of the best restaurants and inns in the north of England, grossed another $128,000, averaging $2,300 and bringing its total to a very healthy $1,428,800 for IFC Films. That's quite the upgrade from the $217,277 Winterbottom's "The Killer Inside Me" took in last year for IFC.

Finally, Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris" continued its momentous run, dropping from 621 to 471 theaters in its 11th weekend. Taking in $1,219,758, Allen's 42nd feature film averaged a strong $2,590 and took its total to a stunning $46,914,777. The $50 million mark is all but assured for the Sony Classics release.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..

5 Comments

  • Peter Knegt | August 1, 2011 8:50 AMReply

    @nashvegas: it opens this week

  • nashvegas | August 1, 2011 5:03 AMReply

    Didn't MYSTERIES OF LISBON open this past weekend?

  • Just sad | August 1, 2011 3:31 AMReply

    How pathetic that someone would express happiness about ANOTHER EARTH's drop. Jealousy and bitterness are just ugly and karma is a bitch, El dorado. When your lottery ticket comes, may it boomerang right back to you.

  • El dorado | July 31, 2011 11:59 AMReply

    Glad to see that the pedestrian ANOTHER EARTH is finally getting what it deserves. Bad movie. Bad execution. Bad script. Why the hype in the first place? Big money loser for Searchlight.

  • mary | July 31, 2011 5:18 AMReply

    The strong opening of “The Future” proves that Miranda July’s fanbase is still intact.

    I think that Fox Searchlight is doing the best they can do on handling “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”.
    On the other hand, I am little disappointed by the expansion result of “Another Earth”. By contrast, “Moon” could still got $8,541 PTA when the film was expanded to 21 theaters. It may proves again that Sony Pictures Classics is better at releasing some kinds of films than many other distributors.