Top Per-Theater Average and Best Debut: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
Coming off a stunning $70 million (and counting) gross overseas, John Madden's older audience-skewing film is off to an excellent start, joining "Bernie" as the first two potential indie breakouts from summer 2012.
On 27 screens, the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- grossed $737,051. That gave it a glowing $27,298 per-theater-average, the second best indie debut of the year (after last weekend's "Bernie," which notably was released on much fewer screens).
"The 'baby boomers' came back to the theatres this weekend," Fox Searchlight's Sheila DeLoach, executive VP of distribution, told Indiewire. "The film had many sold-out matinees, twilight hours and prime shows as the adult audience showed they were happy to see a movie with a good story and good performances that made them laugh out loud."
This Friday, the film will expand to 24 markets and be in 140 – 150 theatres. By Memorial Day weekend, Fox Searchlight expects the film to be screening in approximately 800 theatres.
Worst Debut: "A Little Piece of Heaven" (Millennium)
While Millennium Entertainment has reason to celebrate due to the continuing success of "Bernie," things were not so sunny regarding Nicole Kassell's cancer-themed romantic comedy "A Little Bit of Heaven." Starring Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kathy Bates, Rosemarie DeWitt and Whoopi Goldberg, the film -- which received some of the worst reviews of the year -- opened on 11 screens to a dismal $10,011 gross. That gave it an average of only $910 and will likely become one of the biggest duds of the year.
Most Impressive Holdover: "Bernie" (Millennium)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's aforementioned dark comedy did great business in its second weekend out. After a stellar debut on three screens (which resulted in the year's best per-theater-average for a limited release), the film expanded to eight locations and jumped 64% in grosses. It took in $140,544, averaging a fantastic $17,568.
"'Bernie' held fantastic," Millennium Entertainment's Andy Gruenberg told Indiewire today. "It's selling out everywhere. Sleeper of the year."
Gruenberg said the film will make significant expansions on May 18 and June 1. Its total currently stands at $261,843.
Milestone: "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" (CBS Films)
Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" went from 335 to 247 screens in weekend #9 and dropped off a reasonable 37% in grosses. It also managed something no indie release has done so far this year: It crossed the $8 million mark. Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $266,207, enough to take its total to $8,225,200. That makes "Salmon" the top grossing specialty release of 2012 so far.
Check out the full box office chart.