"The Grandmaster" -- already Wong Kar-wai's highest grossing film at the Chinese box office -- hit U.S. theaters this weekend care of Mr. Harvey Weinstein (in a version 22 minutes shorter than what China got), and got off to a very respectable start. In 7 theaters, the film grossed $132,259 for a $18,894 average -- the highest average of any film in release, wide or limited.
The film is Wong's first release since his 2007 English language film "My Blueberry Nights," which The Weinstein Company also released. That film averaged a so-so $12,357 from 6 theaters (especially given it wasn't in a foreign language and starred the somewhat marketable likes of Norah Jones, Jude Law and Natalie Portman) and ended up with $867,275. That was below 2001's "In The Mood For Love" ($2,738,980) and 2004's "2046" ($1,444,588). The opening of "The Grandmaster" is promising enough to suggest it could end up with a gross at least in between those two films.
Also opening this weekend was Destin Daniel Cretton's extremely acclaimed SXSW winner "Short Term 12," which stars Brie Larson in one of the year's most heralded indie performances. Releases by Cinedigm, the film opened in 4 theaters this weekend and took in $60,137, averaging a good $15,034. It's the best average ever for distributor Cinedigm, which currently only has two films -- "Larger Than Life in 3D" and "Arthur Newman" -- that managed grosses over $100,000. "Short Term 12" will absolutely join them, and will in all likelihood become Cinedigm's top grossing film in its 4 year history.
“We’ve been in love with 'Short Term 12' ever since SXSW introduced it to the world, and over the past few months, we’ve been gratified to see press and audiences embrace it alike," Cinedigm said. "The critical response has been phenomenal and we are confident that this is the beginning of a very long run for 'Short Term 12' as we expand into top 25 markets over the coming weeks. Destin, Brie, John, Kaitlyn, Keith and everyone associated with this special film are true talents and we’re proud to welcome them into the Cinedigm family.”
Sundance Selects' "Una Noche" and Magnolia's "Drinking Buddies" also opened in 3 and 2 houses, respectively. The former posted a $18,500 gross for a $6,167 average while the latter -- already out on VOD since July 25th, where it is said to have done strong business (though #s are not available, as per usual with VOD) -- took in $19,000 for a $9,000 average.
"Drinking Buddies" and "Short Term 12" were half of the "quadruple feature" David Lowery -- director of "Aint' Them Bodies Saints" -- suggested for the weekend. Lowery said he was so proud of his own film ("Saints") and three recent releases ("Buddies," "Short Term" and wide opener this weekend "You're Next") from some of his friends that if you see all four, he'll send you a prize packages from each of the film's directors. For what it's worth, "You're Next" grossed $7,050,000 from 2,437 screens this weekend, while "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" went from 3 to 28 theaters in weekend two to gross $72,200 and average $2,579 (its total now stands at $113,400).
Meanwhile, there was no prize package involved in the massive fifth weekend expansion of Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," which became the director's widest release ever as Sony Classics took it to 1,283 theaters ("Midnight in Paris" had been his previous widest at 1,038). The result was an overall top 10 finish care of a $4,300,000 gross. Its per-theater-average of $3,352 was the fourth highest in the top 10 and certainly a strong number. Though it did officially put "Jasmine" behind the pace of "Paris," which averaged $4,706 when it hit 1,038 screens in its fifth weekend. Either way, its $14,799,000 total so far is fantastic news for Sony Classics, and it seems pretty certain "Blue Jasmine" will top the likes of "Mud" and "The Way, Way Back" to become summer 2013's highest grossing indie.
Head to next page for a full chart of weekend specialty grosses.