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Specialty Box Office: 'Kingdom' Comes With Record-Breaking Debut; 'Intouchables' Also Strong

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 28, 2012 at 12:0PM

The specialty box office was heated this Memorial Day weekend, with Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" breaking the record for the best limited indie debut of all time.
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'Moonrise Kingdom"

The specialty box office was heated this Memorial Day weekend, with Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" breaking the record for the best limited indie debut of all time.

That news overshadowed another strong debut -- Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables" -- as well as potent expansion numbers from John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and Richard Linklater's "Bernie."

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
Focus Features-released "Moonrise Kingdom" grossed a stunning $508,870 from just four theaters over the three-day frame, averaging $127,218. That allowed the film to top the $126,317 that "Dreamgirls" averaged in 2006 (the record for a live-action film), as well as the $109,485 "Brokeback Mountain" averaged back in 2005 (the record for an indie film), giving it the best per-theater-average of either designation (a number of animated Disney films had higher averages).

As far as the four-day holiday weekend went, "Kingdom" ended up with a whopping $669,486 -- averaging $167,371. That gross is more than Anderson's "Bottle Rocket" made in its entire run.

The numbers give "Kingdom" a slight head start over last summer's biggest hit, "Midnight in Paris" (which, like "Kingdom," opened the Cannes Film Festival a week prior). That film averaged a whopping $99,834 from six screens in its first frame, heading toward a massive $56.8 million final gross, a number to which "Kingdom" clearly aspires.

"Kingdom" also nearly doubled Wes Anderson's previous best per-theater-average, which was the $66,475 "Fantastic Mr. Fox" pulled in back in 2009. Anderson's overall top grosser is still 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums," which grossed $52,364,010 -- or $71,494,200 if adjusted for inflation. "Kingdom" has a long way to go to match those numbers, but it will make some of its first steps next weekend when Focus expands it significantly.

“Moonrise is a story of love’s improbable triumph, and for Wes Anderson and his team a labor of love from start to finish," Focus head James Schamus said. "How wonderful it is to congratulate him, on behalf of everyone at Focus, for this remarkable, record-breaking opening."

"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
Also doing very well was Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables," which opened in four theaters and grossed an estimated $101,053 over the three-day weekend and $137,438 through Monday, averaging $25,263 and $34,360, respectively. That gave the film -- distributed by The Weinstein Company -- the best debut of 2012 for a foreign-language film (narrowly topping Joseph Cedar's "Footnote"). 

The film is already a massive hit overseas, taking in over $343 million -- including $166 million in its native France alone. The Weinstein Company will expand the film next Friday.

"OC87" (Fisher-Klingenstein Films)
Opening in the shadow of what could be two of the summer's biggest indie juggarnauts was Bud Clayman, Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston's doc "OC87" (or "OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie"), which debuted on a single New York screen to reasonable numbers. The film grossed $5,733 over the three-day weekend, and an estimated $7,500 through the holiday.

"I am very pleased with the opening of 'OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie,'” said Danny Fisher, CEO, Fisher Klingenstein Films. "Critics have really embraced the film, and together with strong viral and word-of-mouth, the film opened as the number one exclusive engagement this Memorial Day weekend. We look forward to our future theatrical engagements as more and more exhibitors express interest in bringing 'OC87' to their theaters."

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Girl in Progress," "Bernie" and "First Position," continue to the next page.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
John Madden's older-audience skewing "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" continued to prove itself one of 2012's first true indie breakouts this weekend in a very aggressive expansion care of Fox Searchlight.

On 1,233 screens (up from 354), the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- jumped 97% to gross a fantastic $6,350,000 over the 3-day weekend. That gave it a $5,150 per-theater-average and put it in the overall top 10. Over the holiday frame, it took in $8,225,000, averaging $6,671 as it took its total to $18,428,496.

The film is now the highest grossing indie of 2012, and a final gross north of $30 million seems assured.

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's dark comedy did very good business in its fifth weekend. Expanding from 95 to 194 theaters, the film jumped 77% over the three-day frame as it took in another $870,000, averaging $4,485 (impressively down only about $1,000 per theater from last weekend despite nearly tripling its screens). Over the holiday, it took in $1,161,151, bringing its total to $2,512,957 ahead of further expansion. The film has already doubled the gross of Linklater's previous film, "Me and Orson Welles."

"Hysteria" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tanya Wexler's Victorian era romantic comedy (about the invention of the vibrator) went from five to 32 screens this weekend for Sony Pictures Classics. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Felicity Jones and Rupert Everett, the film managed a so-so $138,000 gross over the 3-day frame, averaging $4,313.  Through Monday it took in $177,255, averaging $5,539 and taking its total to $233,061.

"Polisse" (Sundance Selects)
A year after debuting at the Cannes Film Festival, French import "Polisse" went from 3 to 14 screens in its second weekend care of Sundance Selects.  Directed by Maïwenn, the film centers on the Child Protection Unit in Paris, and a photographer who is assigned to cover the unit.  It took in $47,600 over the 3-day weekend, and $63,000 over the holiday for per-theater-averages of $3,400 and $4,500, respectively. Its total now stands at $111,000.

"Elena" (Zeitgeist Films)
Another Cannes 2011 debut, Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Elena" went from one to two screens this weekend. The result saw it take in $13,561 over the three-day weekend, and $17,161 over the four-day frame. That made for averages of $6,781(3-day) and $8,580 (4-day) and a new total of $37,468.

"Girl In Progress" (Lionsgate and Pantelion)
Patricia Riggen's single mom film "Girl In Progress" dropped off steeply in its third weekend. The film -- which stars Eva Mendes -- went from 322 to 143 screens and dropped 72% over the 3-day weekend comparison, taking in another $128,000. That made for a $895 per-theater-average. The film managed $165,000 through Monday, bringing its total to $2,443,273.

"Where Do We Go Now?" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Nadine Labaki's Lebanese import "Where Do We Go Now" from 12 to 25 screens in its third weekend (12 of which were in Canada, where the film is being released by Mongrel Media). The result was a $59,016 3-day gross and a $70,016 4-day gross, averaging $2,361 and $2,801 over each frame. The film's North American cume now stands at $133,283 ($96,467 of which was grossed in the US).

"First Position" (Sundance Selects)
Finally, Bess Kargman's ballet documentary "First Position" expanded from 41 to 56 theaters in its fourth weekend and continued to find good numbers.  The film took in $140,000 over the weekend, and $201,600 through Monday, averaging $2,500 (3-day) and $3,600 (4-day). The film has now totalled $544,000.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.