Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in "Boyhood."

Audiences flocked to Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" this weekend, giving the specialty market a much needed shot in the arm. With astounding reviews and months of anticipation following festival screenings at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW, the 12 years in the making film did not disappoint. Full report below:

The Debuts:

Debut Winner of the Weekend:  "Boyhood," obviously. Grossing a stellar $359,000 from just 5 theaters (and with a 164 minute running time, no less), "Boyhood" found a per-theater-average of $71,800, the highest of the summer and the second highest of 2014, after "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (which holds the all-time record for a live action film).  It was also a record for Linklater, topping last summer's "Before Midnight," which averaged $49,383 per its 5 theaters.

"We are thrilled with the opening numbers for 'Boyhood' this weekend," said IFC Films'   SVP Sales and Distribution Mark Boxer. "The opening numbers have surpassed our highest expectations  for the weekend, as audiences flocked to theatres for the critically acclaimed film."

Boxer said the film had multiple sell outs from all theatres in New York and Los Angeles.  It also played equally to an older and younger demographic.
"Boyhood" was a shot over 12 years, following the evolution of a family (played by Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater) over that period.  It represents an investment from IFC Films, a division of AMC Networks, over that same period.  The company had recently financed Linklater’s "Waking Life" and "Tape" when Linklater and producer John Sloss approached IFC Films head Jonathan Sehring about financing the "12 year project."   He in turn went to his boss, Josh Sapan, head of AMC Networks,  who he had worked for almost 30 years, who also was into the idea.
“Back in 2002, we thought Rick’s idea was an extraordinary notion and we believed him to be a great filmmaker," said Sehring and Sapan.  "Putting our creative and commercial fates in the hands of people who are brilliant has proven to be a terrific strategy for the company and we couldn’t’ be happier to have supported Rick’s creative vision.  The result is a film for the ages and we can’t wait to bring 'Boyhood' to the rest of the country in the weeks to come."

The film will expand to 10 markets next weekend.

This Weekend's Debuts: (ranked in order of per-theater-average)

1. Boyhood (IFC Films)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $359,000
Theaters: 5
Per-Theater-Average: $71,800
Total Gross: $359,000
Criticwire Average: A

2. Land Ho (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $37,811
Theaters: 4
Per-Theater-Average: $9,453
Total Gross: $37,811
Criticwire Average: B

3. Closed Curtain (Variance)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $8,500
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $8,500
Total Gross: $8,500
Criticwire Average: A-

Head on over to the next page for holdover grosses, including "America," "Begin Again" and "Snowpiercer"...