By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 3, 2012 at 1:49PM
"Sleepwalk With Me" (IFC Films)
Mike Birbiglia's semi-autiobiographical "Sleepwalk With Me" came off a massive $68,801 debut last weekend at a single engagement at New York's IFC Center to very strong numbers in its second frame.
Expanding from 1 to 29 theaters, the film scored a $408,987 gross over the holiday weekend frame (which includes Labor Day estimates), giving it a $14,103 per-theater-average, the second highest of any film in release. Its total now stands at $498,987.
"'Sleepwalk With Me' had another phenomenal weekend as the opening numbers in new cities like Chicago and Los Angeles were very strong," IFC Films SVP of Sales and Distribution Mark Boxer told Indiewire. "The film received glowing reviews in top markets as we took advantage of the long holiday weekend."
"Sleepwalk With Me" will expand to the top 25 markets throughout September. The film already has solid pre-sales in future markets, IFC said.
Birbiglia directed, wrote and stars in the film, which tells the autobiographical story of a burgeoning stand-up comedian's struggles with the stress of a stalled career, a stale relationship and the wild spurts of severe sleepwalking he is desperate to ignore. It was co-written and produced by Ira Glass, of "This American Life" fame.
Also managing fantastic second weekend numbers this weekend was "Samsara," the non-narrative film created by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson. The film is a sort of sequel or continuation of the acclaimed 1992 film "Baraka," which also was directed by Fricke and produced by Magidson. "Samsara" was shot in about 100 locations in 25 countries and took four years to make. As described on the film's website, it "explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, 'Samsara' takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation."
While that synopsis definitely doesn't scream "blockbuster," it clearly appealed to many folks. Expanding from 2 to 9 screens, "Samsara" grossed $141,737, averaging $15,749. The film's total now stands at $259,440.
"Little White Lies" (MPI Media)
Guillaume Canet's "Little White Lies" had an respectable second weekend (though one might have expected more considering its cast includes Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin). Expanding from 3 to 11 screens, "Lies" managed a 104% boost, taking in $52,327 over the 4 day weekend for an $4,757 average. Like many foreign-language films, "Lies" could very well end up having stamina that this opening doesn't quite suggest, so check back to see how it expands in coming weeks. Its total stands at $89,630 so far.
"2016: Obama's America" (Rocky Mountain Pictures)
The anti-Barack Obama documentary “2016: Obama’s America" -- written and directed by John Sullivan and “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” author Dinesh D’Souza -- had its best weekend yet as it expanded from 1,091 to 1,747 screens and managed an overall top-10 finish.
Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures (the same folks that brought you "Atlas Shrugged, Part I" and "An Inconsistent Truth"), the film jumped 9% in grosses (which is actually somewhat disappointing considering it nearly doubled its screen count and got an extra day of grosses) as it took in $7,086,687. Its strong $4,056 average helped take its total to $20,253,716. That tops "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (also released by Rocky Mountain) as the highest-grossing conservative documentary ever, and among the top 10 highest-grossing documenatries of all time (ahead of, among others, "Madonna: Truth or Dare," "Super Size Me," "Hoop Dreams," and "Roger & Me").
The film aims to show how the future of the United States might unfold should Barack Obama be elected to a second term as president.
"Robot and Frank" (IDP / Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Fairing quite well in its third frame was Sundance Film Festival alum "Robot and Frank," which aggresively went from 46 to 144 screens and jumped 222%. Grossing $914,400 over the 4-day weekend, the film averaged a very strong $6,350.
Starring Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon, the comedy follows an aging ex-convict (Langella), whose children hire a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to care for him. The film's total now stands at $1,362,645.
"Chicken With Plums" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Chicken With Plums" -- Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's follow-up to "Persepolis" -- went from 1 to 3 screens in its third weekend to underwhelming numbers. Taking in $15,216 over the holiday frame, the film averaged $5,072. Including its grosses from a release in Canada earlier this year, the film has a North American total of $104,092.
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics' Sundance pickup "Celeste and Jesse Forever" expanded bigtime from 115 to 586 screens in its fourth weekend. The film -- written by real-life best friends Rashida Jones (who also stars) and Will McCormack -- grossed $938,071 over the holiday, averaging a so-so $1,601. That brought the film's total to $2,093,903.
"Celeste and Jesse" stars Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts and Ari Graynor. It follows a married couple (Jones and Samberg) who try and remain best friends after breaking up.
"Killer Joe" (LD Entertainment)
LD Entertainment continued to see very good numbers from its release of William Friedkin's crime thriller "Killer Joe," despite its NC-17 rating. Starring Matthew McConaughey (who is having an incredible year between this, "Magic Mike" and as-yet-unreleased Cannes titles "Mud" and "The Paperboy") in the title role, the film expanded from 50 to 74 theaters in its sixth weekend and held on strong (up 30%). It took in $247,454 over the holiday for a $3,334 average. Its total now stands at $1,449,986. That makes it one of just 14 NC-17 rated films to cross the $1 million mark. Its likely to soon become one of just 11 to hit $2 million.
"Searching For Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Malik Bendjelloul's doc "Searching For Sugar Man" from 29 to 32 screens in its sixth weekend. The film -- which won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year -- follows two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock'n'roller Rodriguez. It took in $187,674 over the 4-day weekend, jumping 55% and averaging an excellent $5,865. Its total now stands at $740,975 with the $1 million mark not too far ahead.
"The Imposter" (Indomina)
Indomina expanded acclaimed doc "The Imposter" (which also debuted at Sundance) from 24 to 31 screens in its eighth weekend. The film -- directed by Bart Layton -- centers on a young Frenchman who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing for 3 years. Indomina saw an $98,132 4-day gross from the film, averaging $3,166 per screen. The film's total stands at $516,600.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight)
Finally, Benh Zeitlin's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild" saw its grosses jump 48% in its tenth weekend as it gaind 55 screens (it went from 212 to 267). The film took in $685,000 over the 4-day frame to inch toward the $10 million mark. Averaging $2,566, the film's total now stands at $9,774,939, with the $15-million mark no longer out of the question. The film has now impressively topped the grosses of recent Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners "Like Crazy" and "Winter's Bone."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.