By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 4, 2010 at 4:2AM
Daryl Wein "Breaking Upwards" found impressive numbers in its sole screen debut this Easter Weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak Sunday afternoon. While "Clash of the Titans" dominated the overall box office (despite horrendous reviews), "Upwards" - which premiered at last year's SXSW Film Festival - had a small victory at New York's IFC Center, playing to sell out shows and managing $15,250 - the highest per-theater average of any specialty film reporting.
indieWIRE's Nigel M. Smith profiled Wein earlier this week. The film will open Los Angeles next weekend and will be followed by a roll out to major markets throughout April.
Also opening this weekend were two other 2009 film festival holdovers. Sundance premiere "The Greatest," directed by Shana Feste, opened on 8 screens in New York and Los Angeles. The Paladin-released family drama, which stars Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan and Aaron Johnson, took in an underwhelming $37,000, averaging $4,625.
Oscilloscope debuted Michel Gondry 2009 Cannes Film Festival documentary "The Thorn in the Heart" this weekend on one New York City screen. As a result, "Heart" took in $6,135.
An additional opening came care of the exclusive engagement of Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam's doc "The Sun Behind The Clouds: Tibet's Struggle For Freedom" (recently acquired by Balcony Releasing). Exploring the Tibetans' fifty-year struggle for independence, the film grossed a nice $10,884 from its one screen, adding on to the $5,190 it had grossed since opening Wednesday. In total, "The Sun" has taken in $16,074.
Among holdovers, Niels Arden Oplev anticipated Swedish import "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" was perhaps the most impressive. In its third weekend, "Tattoo" - already coming off over $80 million in overseas box office - went from 44 to 87 screens and grossed a potent $487,147, averaging $5,598 and taking its total to $1,470,001. That puts the Music Box Films release well on its way to becoming a considerable foreign-language success story.
Also managing a nice third weekend was Focus Features' release of Noah Baumbach "Greenberg." The Ben Stiller mid-life crisis dark comedy expanded ever so slightly from 181 to 186 screens and dropped off just 27%, grossing another $741,939. That made for a respectable average of $3,989 and a total of $2,310,563. Despite just 17 days in release, "Greenberg" has now already out-grossed Baumbach last effort, 2007 "Margot at the Wedding." His highest grossing film as a director, 2005 "The Squid and the Whale," still stands tall at $7,372,734.
Atom Egoyan "Chloe," which had a decent debut last weekend, saw its U.S. grosses drop 41% in its second frame. The Sony Pictures Classics release grossed $385,410 from its 291 U.S. screens (down 15 from last weekend), averaging $1,324 and taking the sexual thriller's total to a respectable $1,312,010.
In Egoyan's native Canada, which had a separate distributor in E1 Entertainment, the film managed much better. On 48 screens (up 4 from last weekend), "Chloe" grossed $191,115 (in US dollars), averaging $4,127 and taking its Canuck total to $555,734 (which is already a considerable total for the Canadian market). Combined, "Chloe"'s North American gross is now $1,867,744, making it Egoyan highest domestic total since 1997's "The Sweet Hereafter." Although, none of the films in between got a release this wide, nor did they star "Chloe"'s marketable cast of Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried.
Three-week old "The Runaways," Floria Sigismondi's music biopic starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, reduced its screen count significantly from 237 to 84. As a result, it dropped off an understandable 60%, grossing $182,534 for an average of $2,173. That brings its total to $1,972,071. Notable is that "The Runaways" - released through Apparition - is still scheduled for a considerable expansion next Friday, April 9th, though instead of the initially planned 1000 screens, it is now headed for only 200.
Finally, Anchor Bay's "City Island" - starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies - continued a promising expansion. Going from 7 to 26 screens, the film grossed $144,000. That made for a whopping 197% increase in grosses, hanging on to a very sizable portion of its per-theater average. After three weeks, "Island" has grossed $256,387, making it the highest grossing film in young Anchor Bay's history.
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..