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by Peter Knegt
December 6, 2009 5:59 AM
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Box Office: "Up In The Air" Skyrockets In Debut Weekend

A scene from Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air."

Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air" found stunning numbers in its first weekend of limited release, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The Paramount release - which led the National Board of Review winners last week - grossed $1,100,000 from only 15 screens. That amounted to a scorching $73,333 average - among the 25 highest of all time and the year's best specialty debut behind only "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

On the exact same weekend two years ago, Reitman's "Juno" opened on 7 theaters and actually found a smaller per-theater-average. "Juno" - which went on to gross $143,495,265 in North America alone - grossed $413,869 in its opening frame, averaging $59,124. That "Air" topped that bodes very, very well for its future. The film - starring George Clooney as a man hired by companies to fire their employees - will expand next Friday before going wide on Christmas Day.

The second best per-theater-average this weekend came care of the third weekend of Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," which has has now grossed a stunning $454,596 without screening in more than two theaters. The Sony Pictures Classics release grossed another $90,288 this week, a slight 23% drop from last weekend, averaging $45,144. At this point, the film has better momentum than any other Almodovar film. Currently, the highest grossing Almodovarian total is 2006's "Volver," which grossed $12,899,867.

After four impressive weekends, Lionsgate's "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" showed serious signs that its momentum has stalled considerably. The film, stagnant on 664 screens, fell 67% from Thanksgiving weekend, a sharper drop than any film in the top 10, including "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." The film, which received five Spirit Award nominations last week but was snubbed by the National Board of Review, grossed an estimated $2,310,000, averaging $3,469 and taking its total to $36,280,000. Sharp drops aside, though, thats a substantially impressive cume - the highest for a specialty platform release this year.

Other notable holdovers included Richard Linklater's "Me and Orson Welles" - the DIY release of which was profiled in indieWIRE earlier this week. On 5 screens (up one from last weekend), the film held on decently after its promising debut, grossing $40,745 and averaging $8,149. That gave the Zac Efron-Claire Danes period film a $150,198 total after ten days.

Apparition's "The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day" continued an aggressive expansion in its sixth weekend. The Troy Duffy-directed sequel to DVD phenomenon (and theatrical failure) "Boondock Saints" expanded to 432 screens and grossed $884,489, averaging $2,047 and bringing its total to an impressive $7,180,063.

Finally, in wide release, Miramax's parade of financial failures continued with Kirk Jones's remake of Guiseppe Tornatore's 1990 Italian film, "Everybody's Fine." The Robert deNiro family drama grossed $4,027,000 from 2,133 screens, barely making the overall top ten and averaging just $1,800.

Lionsgate fared better with its European remake, Jim Sheridan's "Brothers," which is based on Susanne Bier's 2004 Danish film. Featuring Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, and Jake Gyllenhaal as a family facing the Maguire character's troubled return from war, the film grossed a fair $9,700,000 from 2,088 screens, averaging $4,646.

Check back with indieWIRE Tuesday for updated box office numbers.

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

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