"Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
"Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

In a great feat of counter-programming to the insanity that was the $200 million opening weekend of "The Avengers," Fox Searchlight found fantastic numbers from the first weekend of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," nearly topping the 2012 limited debut record set by "Bernie" last weekend.  And while the news for "Bernie" continued to be very good as well, its fellow Millennium Entertainment release "A Little Bit of Heaven" -- starring Kate Hudson and Gael Garcia Bernal -- opened to some of the year's worst numbers.

Check out the full rundown below, including notable holdover releases "Headhunters," "Sound of My Voice," "Marley," "Darling Companion," "Bully," and "Monsieur Lazhar."

The Debuts:

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
Coming off a stunning $70 million (and counting) gross overseas, John Madden's older audience skewing film is off to an excellent start, joining "Bernie" as the first two potential indie breakouts from summer 2012.

On 27 screens, the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- grossed $750,301.  That gave it a glowing $27,789 per-theater-average, the second best indie debut of the year (after last weekend's "Bernie," which notably was released on much fewer screens).       

"The 'baby boomers' came back to the theatres this weekend," Fox Searchlight's Sheila DeLoach --
EVP Distribution -- told Indiewire.  "The film had many sold out matinees, twilight hours, and prime shows as the adult audience showed they were happy to see a movie with a good story and good performances that made them laugh out loud."
This Friday, the film will expand to 24 markets and be in 140 – 150 theatres.  By Memorial Day weekend, Fox Searchlight expects the film to be screening in approximately 800 theatres.

"A Little Bit of Heaven" (Millennium Entertainment)
While Millennium Entertainment has reason to celebrate due to the continuing success of "Bernie," things were not so sunny regarding Nicole Kassell's cancer-themed romantic comedy "A Little Bit of Heaven." Starring Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kathy Bates, Rosemarie DeWitt and Whoopi Goldberg, the film -- which received some of the worst reviews of the year -- opened on 11 screens to a dismal $9,830 gross.  That gave it an average of only $894 as it will likely become one of the biggest duds of the year.

"First Position" (Sundance Selects)
Much better news came care of Bess Kargman's ballet documentary "First Position." On 5 screens in New York and Los Angeles, the film played to sold out shows and grossed $51,000 -- averaging a very respectable $10,200. Sundance Selects will expand the film to the top 15 markets next weekend.

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "Bernie," "Sound of My Voice," "Marley," "Monsieur Lazhar," and "Bully," continue to the next page.