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by Peter Knegt
May 1, 2012 1:00 PM
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Final Box Office: 'Bernie' Tops Chart With Year's Best Debut

Richard Linklater's "Bernie."

Each Tuesday, Indiewire publishes a box office chart that sorts the final weekend numbers of all specialty releases by per-theater average.  Check out the full chart here, but here's some highlights:

Top Per-Theater Average and Best Debut: "Bernie" (Millennium)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's dark comedy did great business in its first weekend out. On three screens in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, the film took in $85,805, averaging a stellar $28,602 That's the best indie debut of 2012, and the best average ever for a Linklater film, topping the $23,039 "A Scanner Darkly" averaged on a notably wider 17 screens (thus making it somewhat incomparable). It's also by far the best debut for distributor Millennium Entertainment, which finally seems to have a hit on its hands.

"We are extremely excited about the commercial success of Bernie," Millennium Entertainment's Andy Gruenberg told Indiewire. "The opening was in NYC LA and Austin and the results almost identical in each theatre. The average per screen makes Bernie both the number indie film of the weekend, but also of the number-one limited debut of the year."

Most Disappointing Debut: "Sound of My Voice" (Fox Searchlight)
Despite very strong reviews and an innovative marketing campaign, Zal Batmanglij's "Sound of My Voice" stumbled in its first weekend. On five screens, the film -- which stars Brit Marling as the leader of a cult -- grossed a so-so $36,134, averaging only $7,227. Distributor Fox Searchlight will expand the film in coming weeks, but so far it seems "Sound" will be another underperformer for both Searchlight and Marling, after the release of "Another Earth" last year. That film actually did considerably better in its first weekend, averaging $19,435 from four screens en route to a $1.3 million final gross.

Most Impressive Holdover: "Monsieur Lazhar" (Music Box Films)
The last release among the Academy Award nominees for best foreign language film, Music Box Films took Quebec's "Monsieur Lazhar" from 33 to 66 screens in its third weekend and jumped 61% in grosses. Grossing $245,126, the film -- which follows an Algerian immigrant who takes over the elementary school classroom of a teacher who has committed suicide --- averaged a solid $3,605 and took its total to $606,440.

The film opened in DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston and Seattle this weekend, and saw expansions in existing markets while only seeing a 17% decline in per theater average. Music Box will expand the film significantly in the coming weeks, which should easily see "Lazhar" join "A Separation" and "Footnote" as the third foreign film nominee to cross the $1 million mark. "Lazhar" has already grossed over $3 million at the Canadian box office.

Milestone: "The Kid With a Bike" and "Pina" (both Sundance Selects)
Crossing the $1 million mark this weekend was Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, had much better news with their "Kid With a Bike." Going from 86 to 85 screens in its seventh weekend care of Sundance Selects, the film grossed a strong $111,297 -- averaging $1,309. "Kid" has now grossed $1,111,496. It has also well surpassed the $651,941 that "L'Enfant" grossed back in 2006 to become the highest grossing film ever for the Dardenne brothers.

Its fellow Sundance Selects release "Pina" also hit a milestone: Crossing the $3.5 million mark in its whopping 19th weekend of release.

Check out the full box office chart.

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