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Specialty Box Office: 'Beasts,' 'Rome' and 'Moonrise' Continue Strong Summer For Indie Releases

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 8, 2012 at 1:24PM

A mighty summer trio of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "To Rome With Love" continued to boost the summer indie box office, each finding very strong numbers in expansion. That overshadowed a generally uneventful batch of openers, which included "China Heavyweight," "The Do-Deca-Penathlon" and "The Magic of Belle Isle."
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Beasts Of The Southern Wild

A mighty summer trio of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "To Rome With Love" continued to boost the summer indie box office, each finding very strong numbers in expansion. That overshadowed a generally uneventful batch of openers, which included "China Heavyweight," "The Do-Deca-Penathlon" and "The Magic of Belle Isle."

A few days after we published an annual mid-year box office report that suggested things were coming along quite nicely so far this year, it seems the second half of 2012 is continuing that trend.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"China Heavyweight" (Zeitgeist)
Director Yung Chang ("Up The Yangtze") saw his latest film "China Heavyweight" open on a single screen care of Zeitgeist Films (which also released "Yangtze"). The film -- which looks at boxing in China -- took in $4,004 from its exclusive engagement.

"The Magic of Belle Isle" (Magnolia)
Rob Reiner (yes, that Rob Reiner) had his "The Magic of Belle Isle" -- starring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen -- hit 4 screens thanks to Magnolia Pictures.  The result was far from even "Bucket List" numbers as the film grossed only $11,000, averaging $2,750.

"The Do-Deca-Penathlon" (Red Flag)
Jay and Mark Duplass's long-delayed "The Do-Deca-Penathlon" opened with a thud this weekend via Red Flag Releasing. The film - being released on VOD via Fox Searchlight -- took in only $10,000 from 8 screens for a $1,250 per-theater-average.

The Holdovers:

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight)
After a hugely successful opening last weekend (it managed the third best limited debut of the year), Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" expanded from 4 to 19 theaters in its second frame. That included screens in New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas, as well as New York and LA, where it opened last weekend.

The result? A fantastic 121% surge in grosses. "Beasts" took in a $375,587 gross and a $19,768 average, the best average of any film in release, including "The Amazing Spiderman." Added to some very strong mid-week grosses thanks to the holiday, the film has now totalled $745,376 heading into further expansion next weekend (it hits 12 new markets). For a largely experimental film with no name actors whatsoever, this could turn into a very special box office hit for Fox Searchlight.

"To Rome With Love" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics went for it this weekend with Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love." In its third frame, they expanded from 29 screens to a whopping 806, clearly sensing a need to cash in on momentum. The plan worked out well, with the film soaring 409% in grosses to take in $3,502,143 and find a place in the overall top 10. The film's total now stands at $5,261,353. 

The film is now tracking behind last year's megahit "Midnight in Paris," but that's quite reasonable considering it found much less glowing reviews. Sony Classics should still be more than happy with these numbers, and has already seen "Rome" outgross their 2010 collaboration with Woody, "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" (which took in $3.3 million). It should outgross 2009's "Whatever Works" in the next day or so (that film managed $5.3 million).

That's only slightly behind the second weekend of last year's "Midnight in Paris," which averaged $33,268 from 58 screens.

For a report on more holdovers, including "Moonrise Kingdom," "Take This Waltz," "Your Sister's Sister" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," continue to the next page.

Moonrise Kingdom Jared Gilman Kara Hayward
"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
In its seventh weekend, Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" expanded slightly from 854 to 884 screens after a massive expansion last weekend. lt held on exceptionally strong, dropping just 6% in grosses. The Wes Anderson film took in $4,641,580, placing in the overall top 10 yet again and averaging a very healthy $5,251.

"'Moonrise' maintained its momentum for the second weekend holiday play period and the film had a modest (-4%) drop compared to last Saturday," Focus said in a statement. "Many theaters actually experienced increases in box office results over last Saturday. The core 'Moonrise' houses continue to generate very sizeable grosses and the film is still holding onto the top ranking position in many of these theaters."

The film's new total is $26,893,000. It is now the second highest grossing Anderson film, after 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums." At this rate, it should be set to pass the $40 million mark -- rivalling "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" as the highest grossing indie of 2012 so far.

"Take This Waltz" (Magnolia/Entertainment One)
Magnolia (who has US distribution rights) and Entertainment One (who has Canadian rights) have teamed up to release Canadian icon Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz."  In its second frame, the film expanded from 30 to 43 screens, and muliple new US markets (including LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, DC, Philadelphia and San Diego ). Overall, the results were mild. The film took in $165,000 -- averaging $3,837 per theater. But notably 28 of those theaters were in Canada, including numerous small markets that don't often pull in big numbers.

"Waltz" has grossed $412,000 heading into further expansion.

"Neil Young Journeys" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Speaking of Canadians, Sony Classics expanded another Canadian icon-centric film -- Jonathan Demme's doc "Neil Young Journeys" -- from 3 to 5 theaters in its second weekend and saw a weak $11,736 gross as a result, averaging $2,347 per theater. The film's total now stands at $34,144.

Kumare (Kino Lorber)
2011 SXSW Audience Award winner "Kumare" had a third weekend on a sole screen at New York's IFC Center.  The doc --  about a man who impersonates an Indian guru and builds a following in Arizona -- grossed $5,000 over the weekend, taking its total to $45,270 (this also includes a lmited run in Boulder, Colorado last week). The film will open July 27th in Los Angeles.

"Your Sister's Sister" (IFC Films)
Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" went from 95 to 94 in its fourth weekend care of IFC Films. Starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass, the film held on nicely, grossing $188,000 and averaging $2,000. That gave the film a shiny new total of $1,029,000, become the first film of Shelton's career to cross the $1 million mark.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" (Film District)
Film District's Sundance Film Festival pickup "Safety Not Guaranteed" (also starring Mark Duplass) dropped to 109 screens in its fifth weekend to repectable results. It took in $260,00 -- down 31% from last weekend but still enough for a $2,385 average and a new total of $2,177,060.

"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables" dropped from 68 to 60 theaters for its seventh frame, but held on very well despite that. It lost only 9% of its grosses and took in an estimated $284,000, averaging $4,733 (which was actually up from last weekend). That helped it cross the $3 million mark, giving it a new total of $3,107,092.

The film is already a massive hit overseas, taking in over $343 million, with $166 million in its native France alone.

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Millennium Entertainment continued to find legs via Richard Linklater's dark comedy "Bernie." Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, the film managed strong numbers in its whopping eleventh weekend. Dropping from 166 to 113 screens, the film only lost 20% of its grosses to take in another $258,707.  That made for a average of $2,289 (up from last weekend) and new total of $7,778,586. The film is just $200,000 away from surpassing "Dazed and Confused" as the highest grossing independently released film of Linklater's career. More on the success of "Bernie" here.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
Finally, John Madden's older-audience skewing "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" impressively moved beyond the $40 million mark in its tenth weekend of release. The film continued to also prove itself one of 2012's true indie breakouts this weekend care of Fox Searchlight, dropping only 29% despite losing a huge chunk of its theaters.

On 359 screens (down from 534 last weekend), the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- grossed a fantastic $783,000 over the weekend. That gave it a $2,181 per-theater-average (up from last weekend, which is a bit of trend this frame) and a new total of $42,033,782.

The film is by far the highest-grossing indie of 2012 and a final gross close to $50 million is looking likely. It's already grossed well over $125 million worldwide (more on that here).

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior 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.

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