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Holiday Box Office | "Terri" Tops Indies In Debut; "Buck" and "Beginners" Lead Strong Holdovers

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 4, 2011 at 4:38AM

The only specialty newbie reporting estimates, Azazel Jacobs's "Terri" found the highest per-theater-average in the specialty market this holiday weekend, and the second highest overall (a distant second to "Transformers"). On 6 screens in New York and LA, the ATO Pictures-release film grossed an estimated $82,521 over the 4-day weekend, earning a $13,754 per screen average. Not huge numbers, but respectable enough for the peculiar coming-of-age dramedy, which follows its titular character (an overweight teenager played by newcomer Jacob Wysocki) as he struggles at home and at school. His life takes a turn when assistant principal Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly) decides to take him on. The 2011 Sundance Film Festival alum will expand in the coming weeks, which will be the much more clear test of its box office capabilities.
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The only specialty newbie reporting estimates, Azazel Jacobs's "Terri" found the highest per-theater-average in the specialty market this holiday weekend, and the second highest overall (a distant second to "Transformers"). On 6 screens in New York and LA, the ATO Pictures-release film grossed an estimated $82,521 over the 4-day weekend, earning a $13,754 per screen average. Not huge numbers, but respectable enough for the peculiar coming-of-age dramedy, which follows its titular character (an overweight teenager played by newcomer Jacob Wysocki) as he struggles at home and at school. His life takes a turn when assistant principal Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly) decides to take him on. The 2011 Sundance Film Festival alum will expand in the coming weeks, which will be the much more clear test of its box office capabilities.

Among many strong holdovers, another Sundance alum - Cindy Meehl's "Buck" - held on very nicely in an aggressive third weekend expansion care of Sundance Selects. The film, which takes on a living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman (who was the inspiration for "The Horse Whisperer'), went from 54 to 131 screens and grossed $628,800 over the 4-day weekend. That made for a $4,800 average and a new total of $1,159,00, making "Buck" one of the few $1 million grossing docs so far this year. It joins another Sundance Selects film - Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" - which took its cume to $4,709,400 this weekend, making it the 25th highest grossing doc of all time.

In its second weekend, "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" couldn't quite connect with audiences. The very well reviewed doc dropped from 24 to 17 screens in its sophomore frame, taking in an estimated $52,011. That made for a $3,059 per-theater-average over the 4-day weekend, and a new total of $193,423.

The film is being released via a unique multi-platform distribution deal between AT&T, Abramorama and Magnolia Home Entertainment. In the deal, AT&T has come onboard as a P&A and multi-platform distribution and marketing partner, while Abramorama is handling theatrical distribution, and Magnolia Home Entertainment has acquired the remaining Video-on-Demand (VOD) and home entertainment rights.

Also in its second weekend thanks to Abramorama was John Tuturro's ode to the legacy of Neapolitan music, "Passione." On two screens, the film took in $22,630, averaging a decent $11,135. "Passione" has now totaled $55,258.

Chris Weitz's "A Better Life" found respectable numbers in its sophomore weekend. On 11 screens, "Life" managed a $124,000 4-day gross, averaging $11,272. The film's total now stands at $203,000, and distributor Summit Entertainment noted that it will expand to over 100 screens next weekend, which will be the most telling weekend yet for "Life."

A different "Life," Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," went to its biggest screen count yet this weekend, with distributor Fox Searchlight taking it from 215 to 218 theaters. As a result, the Palme d'Or winner grossed another $1,350,000 over the holiday, averaging a strong $5,921 and taking its cume to $7,853,436. The film will clearly hit the $10 million mark, and can likely rival the $12,712,093 Malick's "The New World" took in back in 2005. It's also taken in $19,582,268 overseas so far, which for a highly divisive and occasionally downright experimental film, is not too shabby.

Other holdovers included Focus Features release of Mike Mills' "Beginners." Expanding from 72 to 108 venues, the romantic drama starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent grossed $709,063 over the holiday. That made for an excellent $6,565 average and a new total of $2,475,137. Focus will continue to expand the film next weekend, but so far the film has been holding very strongly.

Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip," also managed a nice expansion. The film, which follows fictionalized versions of actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they stop at some of the best restaurants and inns in the north of England, expanded slightly from 39 to 40 theaters in its fourth weekend and grossed $232,000 over the 4-day weekend, averaging $5,800. That amounted to strong new total of $835,000 for IFC Films.

Things were not so promising for The Weinstein Company's "Submarine." The British coming-of-age comedy dropped from 26 to 20 screens in its fifth weekend, taking in $33,00 for a weak 4-day average of $1,650. That's a disappointing number for the well-reviewed film, which the Weinsteins picked up out of the Toronto International Film Festival last year. Directed by Richard Ayoade, the film stars newcomer Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a boy on a mission to save his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) from the dissolution of their marriage and to lose his virginity before he turns 16. The film's total now stands at $347,792.

Finally, Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris" continued its endlessly impressive run for Sony Pictures Classics as it dropped from 951 to 858 screens. Despite the loss of screens, it dropped just 18% in grosses over Independence Day weekend, and it took in $4,316,157 over the holiday frame. That made for a stellar $5,030 average and a new total of $34,516,229 with plenty more to come. indieWIRE profiled the success of the film a few weeks back, and since has become Allen's highest grossing film since 1986's "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Allen's #1 grosser is "Sisters," which took in $40,084,041, followed by 1979's "Manhattan," which took in $39,946,780. At this point its all but assured that "Paris" will surpass both.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

indieWIRE 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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..

This article is related to: Buck