Indian import "Chennai Express" hit America with some serious strength this weekend, breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for a Bollywood film Stateside.
The film -- directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone -- grossed $2,225,000 over the weekend from 196 theaters. That made for a huge $11,352 per-theater-average and a spot just outside the overall top 10, beating out the likes of "Pacific Rim" and "Red 2" -- despite playing in a fraction of their screens.
Distributor UTV noted that the old record of $1,944,027 was held since 2010 by "My Name Is Khan." "Chennai" also beat the 5-day Christmas holiday weekend opening of $2,149,227 for 2009’s "3 Idiots" which currently holds the record for the largest lifetime gross for a Bollywood film with a cume of $6,533,849. We should know by next weekend if "Chennai" can challenge that number, though so far it's looking pretty good.
Meanwhile, the highest overall per-theater-average this weekend went to Roadside Attractions' Sundance pick-up "In a World..." Starring, directed and written by Lake Bell, the film grossed $70,980 from 3 theaters for a strong $23,660 average.
If "In a World" holds up well, it will follow "The Way, Way Back" (which past $15 million this weekend) "Fruitvale Station" (which past $13 million) "Before Midnight," "The Spectacular Now" and "Twenty Feet From Stardom" in a summer full of success stories to come out of Sundance. Two more -- "Austenland" and "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" -- hit theaters next weekend in hopes of joining that club.
Two Sundance pickups were not looking like they'll be doing so this weekend as both "Lovelace" and "Prince Avalanche" opened to underwhelming theatrical numbers. The former grossed $184,176 from an aggressive 118 theater count (averaging $1,561), while the latter took in $40,000 from 14 screens for a $2,857 average. And though neither had theatrical numbers to phone home about, both were also released digitally, where they seemed to be doing much better so far. As of Sunday afternoon, "Lovelace" was #4 on the overall iTunes rental chart, while "Prince Avalanche" was #10.
Finally, what could turn out to be summer 2013's biggest indie hit had a huge third weekend. Woody Allen's Cate Blanchett showcase "Blue Jasmine" went from 50 to 119 theaters and jumped 36%, taking in another $2,523,355 with a $21,205 average. That's higher than the $18,843 "Midnight in Paris" averaged in its third weekend, continuing to put "Jasmine" in a reasonable position to rival that film's ultimate $56.8 million gross (Woody Allen's highest ever). And even if it doesn't reach that number, an assured gross north of $20 million would still likely be music to distributor Sony Pictures Classics' ears.