By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 18, 2011 at 6:37AM
Gus Van Sant's "Restless" disappointed at the specialty box office this weekend. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, the teenage romance - starring Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper - grossed $17,285 from 5 screens, averaging $3,457. Though perhaps an unfair comparison, Van Sant's last film - "Milk" - averaged $40,385 from 36 theaters back in 2008. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics will expand the film next weekend.
Fairing much better was Cohen Media Group's release of Jean Becker's "My Afternoons With Margueritte," which stars recent newsmaker Gérard Depardieu as an illiterate and lonely man who bonds with an older and well-read woman. The film grossed $20,914 from 2 screens, averaging $10,457.
Meanwhile, Paladin's release of Webby founder Tiffany Shlain’s documentary “Connected" debuted on 3 screens in the Bay Area, grossed $17,100 for a $5,700 average. The film opens in Portland 9/23, Los Angeles 9/30, and Seattle on 10/7 before hitting New York on 10/14.
Among holdovers, comedian Kevin Hart continued to find fantastic numbers at the box office with his "Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain," a movie version of his 2011 comedy tour. In its second frame, the film expanded from 97 to 230 screens and grossed another $1,150,000. That's a steep 39% drop from last weekend (especially considering it more than doubled its screen count) but it still made for a $5,000 average and a stellar new total of $3,558,000.
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.
Alain Corneau's "Love Crime" expanded from 10 to 17 screens in its third frame, taking in $51,000 and averaging $3,000. Its total now stands at $168,000. "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 third weekend, Hark Tsui's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" held on nicely for Indomina Media. On 19 screens (up from 3 last weekend), the film grossed $55,464, averaging $2,919. The film's total now stands at $166,745.
Vera Farmiga's directorial debut "Higher Ground" expanded to 81 screens in its fourth weekend, grossing $120,426 for distributor Sony Pictures Classics. With a $1,487 average, the film saw its cume climb to $469,547.
Roadside Attractions expanded Maryam Keshavarz's Iran-set drama "Circumstance" from 23 to 31 screens in its fourth weekend. As a result, the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner (released in partnership with Participant Media) took in in $54,000 for a $1,742 average. The film has now totalled $259,625.
In its sixth weekend, Asif Kapadia's acclaimed documentary "Senna" went from 40 to 37 screens for the Producers Distribution Agency and took in another $75,372, averaging $2,037 and taking its total to $1,123,801.
Gilles Paquet-Brenner's aforementioned "Sarah's Key" also continued an impressive run. In its ninth weekend, The Weinstein Company title went from 306 to 266 theaters. As a result, the French-language film starring Kristin Scott Thomas grossed another $249,000 for a per-theater-average of $936. The total for "Key" now stands at $6,300,000. 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 dropped slightly from 203 to 202 theaters in its eighth frame and took in $389,000 for an admirable average of $1,926 and a new total of $3,813,000.
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..