By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 3, 2013 at 10:44AM
A trio of debuting indies got off to strong starts this weekend, with Zeitgeist's "Hannah Arendt," Fox Searchlight's "The East" and CBS Films' "The Kings of Summer" each meeting or exceeding expectations.
Margarethe von Trotta's "Hannah" -- a biopic on the titular German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist -- managed a very impressive $31,000 from its exclusive engagement at New York's Film Forum (where it was notably playing on 2 screens). The film has totaled a huge $45,502 since opening Wednesday, extremely promising as it heads into further expansion.
"The audience reaction to 'Hannah is just as we hoped," Zeitgeist's Co-President Nancy Gerstman said. "Margarethe von Trotta and Barbara Sukowa made this film about a woman who thinks and writes as compelling and suspenseful as any thriller and the audiences we've watched have been enraptured and entertained. We will be opening in Los Angeles and environs on Friday and will roll out to dozens more cities in the next few months."
Each opening in a relatively wide 4 theaters, "The East" and "The Kings of Summer" managed strong numbers as well.
Zal Batmanglij's "The East" -- starring Brit Marling (who also co-wrote the film), Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page -- opened in New York and LA and took in $75,628 for a $18,907 average. That's a strong number in general and also a big step up from Batmanglij and Marling's previous collaboration "Sound of My Voice," which averaged $7,227 from 5 venues in its first frame.
"'The East' is a smart and modern thriller with a very strong female protagonist, and we believe that since there really isn’t another film out there like this, audiences are seeking out this very unique film," Fox Searchlight's Frank Rodriguez -- SVP of Distribution -- told Indiewire. "It will expand to 6 more cities next weekend (as well as expanding in NY and LA), as we roll the film out over a 4-5 week period."
"The Kings of Summer," which like "The East" debuted at Sundance earlier this year (though at the time "Kings" was titled "Toy's House"), grossed $58,000 from its 4 theaters, averaging $14,500.
"We will be expanding the film into another 22 markets next Friday and look forward sustained playability as more audiences discover this Sundance gem," CBS Films' Grey Munford told Indiewire."
As for holdover releases, two films continued to show considerable strength: Richard Linklater's
"Before Midnight" and Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha."
A rare indie second sequel, "Midnight" sees Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke reprise their roles from 1995's "Before Sunrise" and 2004's "Before Sunset." Released by Sony Classics, the film expanded from 5 to 31 theaters in its second frame, grossing $430,542 for a $13,888 per-theater-average. Its total now stands at $800,314 ahead of a lot more expansion.
Though its second weekend featured a much more aggressive expansion, "Midnight"'s numbers are tracking ahead of "Before Sunset," which averaged $7,700 from 63 theaters in its second weekend.
Also impressive this weekend was "Frances Ha," which continued to expand. Going from 60 to 133 screens, the Noah Baumbach directed film -- which stars and was co-written by Greta Gerwig -- grossed a fantastic $552,182 over the weekend, averaging $4,154. Its gross stands at $1,578,314.
"'Frances Ha' crossed $1 million on Thursday in under 3 weeks of release and just had another stellar weekend," IFC Films' Mark Boxer told Indiewire. "Next week, the aggressive platform will continue as the top 75 markets open in over 200 screens."
Both "Frances" and "Midnight" placed in the overall top 20 this weekend, despite playing in a small fraction of the theaters of their competitors.
Continue to the next page for grosses for reporting debuts and holdovers below (as they come in).