Jodie Foster's long-awaited third directorial effort, "The Beaver," opened in 22 theaters across North America Friday night to dismal box office returns. Starring PR nightmare Mel Gibson as a clinically depressed toy company CEO who finds solace through a beaver hand puppet, the film grossed an estimated $30,000 on its first night of release, averaging just $1,364. That should amount to roughly $100,000-$125,000 over the weekend for distributor Summit Entertainment, with an average of $4,500-$5,500.
To put that into perspective, last month "Atlas Shrugged, Part 1" averaged $5,608 from a significantly wider 299 theaters, while Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" averaged $5,500 from an even wider 707 screens. It's also set to be the worst debut (by far) for a Foster-directed film. In 1991, "Little Man Tate" grossed $230,106 from just 7 theaters in its opening weekend (averaging $32,872), while box office disappointment "Home For The Holidays" grossed $4,007,717 from 1,000 theaters in 1996 (its average of $4,007 rivals "The Beaver" despite it opening on 50 times the screens).
With a budget of $21 million, "The Beaver" was not a costly endeavour and will break even with foreign sales. However, these numbers are not promising and suggest North American audiences are not up for seeing Gibson back on the big screen.
Check back with indieWIRE tomorrow for a full report on the weekend box office Sunday afternoon.