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Specialty Box Office: 'Bernie' Has Biggest Limited Debut Of 2012

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 29, 2012 at 1:02PM

Richard Linklater's "Bernie" had a fantastic debut this weekend, giving 2012 a new #1 for the best per-theater average for  a limited release. But the news wasn't quite so good for fellow openers "Sound of My Voice" and "Elles," both of which underperformed.
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Richard Linklater's "Bernie" Will Open in March
Richard Linklater's "Bernie."

Richard Linklater's "Bernie" had a fantastic debut this weekend, giving 2012 a new #1 for the best per-theater average for  a limited release. But the news wasn't quite so good for fellow openers "Sound of My Voice" and "Elles," both of which underperformed.

Check out the full rundown below, including notable expansions of holdover releases "Marley," "Darling Companion," "Bully," and "Monsieur Lazhar."

The Debuts:

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's dark comedy did great business in its first weekend out. On three screens in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, the film took in $90,438, averaging a stellar $30,146. That's the best indie debut of 2012, and the best average ever for a Linklater film, topping the $23,039 "A Scanner Darkly" averaged on a notably wider 17 screens (thus making it somewhat incomparable). It's also by far the best debut for distributor Millennium Entertainment, which finally seems to have a hit on its hands.

"We are extremely excited about the commercial success of Bernie opening to a staggering $90,000," Millennium Entertainment's Andy Gruenberg told Indiewire today. "The opening was in NYC LA and Austin and the results almost identical in each theatre. The $30,000 average per screen makes Bernie both the number indie film of the weekend, but also of the number-one limited debut of the year."

Gruenberg said they plan on an aggressive expansion in the coming weeks, and added a special thanks to their marketing team Brooke Ford and publicity head Vicky Eguia.

"Sound of My Voice" (Fox Searchlight)
Despite very strong reviews and an innovative marketing campaign, Zal Batmanglij's "Sound of My Voice" stumbled in its first weekend. On five screens, the film -- which stars Brit Marling as the leader of a cult -- grossed a so-so $40,069, averaging only $8,014. Distributor Fox Searchlight will expand the film in coming weeks, but so far it seems "Sound" will be another underperformer for both Searchlight and Marling, after the release of "Another Earth" last year. That film actually did considerably better in its first weekend, averaging $19,435 from four screens en route to a $1.3 million final gross.

"Elles" (Kino Lorber)
Kino Lorber released the Juliette Binoche-starring "Elles" on 6 screens this weekend and also saw mediocre results. The NC-17 rated French import took in only $26,000 for an average of $4,333.

"Headhunters" (Magnolia)
On four screens in New York and LA, Norwegian import "Headhunters" outperformed both "Sound" and "Elles" with a strong $45,000 gross, averaging $11,250. Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film was a huge hit in its native Norway, having the second best opening weekend in Norwegian history. Magnolia will expand the film in the next few weeks.

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "Marley," "Monsieur Lazhar," "Darling Companion," "Damsels in Distress" and "Bully," continue to the next page.

This article is related to: Box Office, Bernie