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Specialty Box Office: 'Chasing Ice' Hot In Exclusive Debut; 'Lincoln' Stuns In Limited Release (UPDATED)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 12, 2012 at 12:54PM

In the shadow of "Skyfall's" record-breaking opening, Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" marched into theaters with a quartet of other limited releases. But among critically praised specialty films such as "A Royal Affair" and "Starlet," it was the climate-change doc "Chasing Ice" that broke through.
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"Chasing Ice"
"Chasing Ice"

In the shadow of the biggest Bond debut of all time, Jeff Orlowski's  "Chasing Ice" had a very strong weekend in the specialty market, finding one of the best limited debuts for a doc this year.

READ MORE: Legends (and Failures) of the Fall: Indie Box Office Winners and Losers

The news wasn't so good for a quintet of other openers -- including well-recieved options like "A Royal Affair" and "Starlet." They may have suffered both from audiences heading to "Skyfall" and to an extremely strong limited release of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." That film managed a per-theater-average over $80,000, one of the 15 best averages ever for a live action film.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We apologize for the delay in this weekend's report. Our box office analyst was unexpectedly stuck in wifi-less transit yesterday.

Full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"Chasing Ice" (Submarine Deluxe)
Climate change doc "Chasing Ice" grossed $21,000 from an exclusive engagement at the Cinema Village in New York, giving it -- incomparably -- the third best average of any film in release save "Skyfall" and "Lincoln."

"We are extremely pleased with the numbers this weekend," Submarine Deluxe's Dan Braun and David Koh  said. "The film is already expanding in New York at Film Society of Lincoln Center next week and the buzz and excitment from the audiences possibly due to awareness caused by the hurricane make the film feel prescient and very relevant. The film is obviously striking a chord with the current interest in climate change and is poised to continue to gain audience interest and word of mouth as it expands in 10 new markets next week while holding in New York."

"A Royal Affair" (Magnolia)
Nikolaj Arcel's"A Royal Affair" -- starring Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Følsgaard -- landed on 7 screens this weekend with a reasonable $40,000 gross, averaging $5,714 per theater. The Danish import -- which the country submitted to the foreign language Oscar race they won two years ago with Susanne Bier's "In a Better World."

"Starlet" (Music Box Films)
Music Box films released SXSW pickup "Starlet" on six screens this weekend to weak results. The film grossed $16,000, averaging just $2,667.

"Despite 'Starlet''s strong reviews in the NY Times, LA Times and other key outlets complimented with significant print and online advertising, this weekend the appeal of 'Skyfall' and 'Lincoln' for the arthouse attending demographic proved to be difficult to overcome, as most specialty holdovers experienced steep declines and suppressed openings of ours and other specialty releases," Music Box said in a statement.

Directed by Sean Baker ("Prince of Broadway"), the film stars Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson.

"The Comedy" (Tribeca Film)
Rick Alverson's Sundance alum "The Comedy" -- starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of "Tim and Eric" fame -- grossed $6,000 from a single LA screen this weekend ahead of further expansion. This was only for 5 showings, which makes its performance quite impressive. [NOTE: This particular blurb has been amended after receiving news of the amount of showings the film had]

"28 Hotel Rooms" (Oscilloscope)
Another pickup from this year's Sundance Film Festival fared even worse as Matt Ross's "28 Hotel Rooms" grossed just $3,000 from a single screen. Starring Marin Ireland and Chris Messina, the film follows a novelist and an accountant who start a sexual relationship when they are traveling for work.

"Lincoln" (Disney/Dreamworks)
Though certainly not an indie film, Disney and Dreamworks released Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" as if it were a specialty market film this weekend, putting in 11 theaters before its nationwide expansion on November 16th. The results were pretty extraordinary, with the Daniel Day-Lewis-led film grossing a whopping $900,000 to average $81,818 per theater. That's one of the 15 best per-theater-averages ever for a live action film (and the third best this year after "The Master" and "Moonrise Kingdom."

Check out the next page for a report on a dozen holdover releases, including "A Late Quartet," "This Must Be The Place" and "The Sessions."

This article is related to: Box Office