By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 14, 2010 at 5:06AM
While the wide-release box office saw the continued reign of "Alice in Wonderland" and the suggestion that Robert Pattinson can't sell a non-"Twilight" film ("Remember Me" debuted to only $8.2 million), the specialty set saw a couple films find fair debuts and one expanding "Ghost Writer" continue to become one of late winter's breakouts.
According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, both Oscilloscope Pictures's "The Exploding Girl" and Magnolia Pictures' "Mother" found $6,000 per-theater-averages in their first weekend. The difference was that "Girl" was on a single screen, "Mother" was on a relatively wide six. Bradley Rust Gray's "Girl" - about a young epileptic woman who struggles with her feelings for her fledgling boyfriend - grossed $6,000 from its sole New York City screen, while Bong Joon-ho's "Mother" - about a mother desperately searches for the killer that framed her son for their horrific murder - took in $36,000 from six screens in New York and LA.
"Mother" follows Magnolia's success with Bong Joon-ho's "The Host" back in 2007 - a film that went on to gross $2.2 million. "Mother" has a tough road ahead to come close to matching that success. "The Host" opened to a similar $4,429 per-theater-average, but that was considerably more impressive because it was on 71 screens.
Expanding 77 screens to 224, Summit Entertainment's release of Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" continued to impress, grossing another $1,231,000 to take its total to $4,267,000 after 4 weeks. Its $5,496 per-theater-average was among the five best of any film this weekend. "Writer" - which stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Kim Cattrall - is expanding to 500 screens next weekend, at which time its crossover potential will most significantly be tested.
The rest of the specialty box office was for the most part made up of Oscar leftovers trying to make the best of their exposure from last Sunday's ceremony. Animated feature nominee "The Secret of Kells" - which last weekend broke the single screen record at New York's IFC Center - dropped off significantly in weekend number two. Released by GKIDS, the film found $10,300 from its sole screen, a 74% dropoff. That said, it remains an impressive number for the film, which has now taken in $64,838.
Another impressive number for an Oscar-nominee came via Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet," which doubled its screen count this weekend (going from 30 to 60) and took in $218,000 for a $3,633 average. The Sony Picture Classics release - which lost the foreign language film award to "The Secret in Their Eyes" (another SPC acquisition), has taken in $786,000 after just three weeks of limited release.
Some other Oscar-related box office news: "A Prophet"'s distribution sibling "The Last Station" (nommed for actress and supporting actor) crossed the $5 million mark this weekend, taking in another $466,000, while Fox Searchlight's two-time winner "Crazy Heart" managed $3.1 million from 1,361 screens, bringing its total to a fantastic $34.2 million.
And finally, Oscar's big winner (with 6 awards including best picture) managed to add on nearly $1 million despite being on DVD for quite some time. Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" screened in 349 theaters this weekend, and managed $828,000 worth of Oscar-boosted box office. While that still only brings its total to $15,700,000, its $2,372 average is impressive considering its been 9 months since "Locker" first hit theaters.
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..