Top Per-Theater Average: "The Kid With a Bike" (Sundance Selects)
Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne saw their "Kid With a Bike" debut on three screens in New York and LA care of Sundance Selects. The result was a $45,933 gross, averaging a respectable $15,311. The 2011 Cannes Film Festival alum far exceeded the opening of the Dardennes' last film -- 2009's "Lorna's Silence" -- which averaged $5,735 from six screens en route to a $338,795 North American gross. Sundance Selects will expand the film to the top 10 markets next weekend.
Best Debut: "Casa De Mi Padre" (Lionsgate)
More impressive was the performance of Matt Piedmont's Spanish-language comedy in its aggressive 382-screen debut. Despite mixed reviews, the film -- starring Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna -- took in $2,287,239, placing in the overall top 10 even though its screen count was a fraction of its competitiors. Its $5,988 average was the third highest in the top 10, behind only "21 Jump Street" and "The Lorax."
Least Impressive Debut: "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" (Paramount Vantage)
Also going for a somewhat aggressive debut was Mark & Jay Duplass' "Jeff Who Lives at Home," which Paramount Vantage released on 254 screens. Starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, the film grossed only $855,709 and averaged a disappointing $3,369. The Duplass brothers' last effort -- 2010's "Cyrus" -- averaged $45,429 from its four-screen debut; more comparably, it topped the "Jeff" average when it went to 200 screens in its fourth week and averaged $6,402.
CBS Films expanded Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In Yemen" from 18 to 62 screens. Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $460,536, up 104% from last weekend. That gave it a stong $7,428 average and a new total of $768,936.
Perhaps even more impressive was David Gelb's doc "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." A look at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, the film went from two to six screens and jumped 117%. Grossing $91,214, its $15,202 per-theater-average nearly toppled "The Kid With a Bike" for the best overall. The film will expand further March 23rd.
Milestones: "A Separation" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning "A Separation" crossed the $5 million mark this past week, becoming only the second 2011 foreign language release to do so (after "Sarah's Key," and no, "The Artist" doesn't count). Going from 281 to 282 screens, the Iranian import grossed another $470,880 -- dropping off 35% from last weekend. That made for a $1,670 average and a new total of $5,562,570. At this rate, the film should end up with a final gross in the $8 million-$10 million range, making it the highest-grossing foreign-language Oscar winner since 2007's "The Lives of Others" (also a Sony Classics release).
Check out the full box office chart.