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by Peter Knegt
May 6, 2012 12:39 PM
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Specialty Box Office: 'Marigold Hotel' Opens To Big Business; 'Bernie' Holds Strong

"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.

1 Comment

  • bad reviews-ville | May 6, 2012 3:15 PMReply

    It's kind of sad to see that bad reviews are killing off movies before they even get their openings. Perhaps "A little bit of heaven" isn't that great, I don't know as I have not yet seen it, but it also received no publicity (I hadn't even been aware of it until this article and I live in L.A.). If it was so awful then why didn't it go straight to DVD instead of going through the expense of the theaters? It has a good cast (Bernal is usually wonderful) but I see this as another John Carter, where the reviews are so bad that people stay away from the film, or in this case, is the only publicity the film has going for it. It might be best to stop screening films early for the press, especially if you think it may kill your release. Better to bill it and advertise your stars and let the audience make up their own minds as to the quality of the film rather than a overly heady critic who doesn't always get it right. Just a thought, and no, I have no affiliation with that film, I'm just finding it annoying to see films die simply because of bad reviews. Opinions do vary after all...