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Specialty Box Office: 'Marley' Doc Scores Very Strong Debut

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 22, 2012 at 1:23PM

Coming off the success of their doc "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," Magnolia Pictures has another doc-related reason to celebrate with the strong debut numbers from Kevin Macdonald's "Marley." Appropriately released over 4/20 weekend, the film led a batch of newcomers that included Sony Classics' "Darling Companion" and Sundance Selects' "Goodbye First Love."
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Marley Poster Edit

Coming off the success of their doc "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," Magnolia Pictures has another doc-related reason to celebrate with the strong debut numbers from Kevin Macdonald's "Marley." Appropriately released over 4/20 weekend, the film led a batch of newcomers that included Sony Classics' "Darling Companion" and Sundance Selects' "Goodbye First Love."

Also notable were the expansions of "Damsels in Distress," "Bully" and "Monsieur Lazhar," as well as a big stumble in the second frame of last weekend's top debut, Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th Day."

Check out the full rundown below:

The Debuts:

"Marley" (Magnolia Pictures)
Kevin Macdonald's Bob Marley doc debuted on a substantial 42 theaters across the country and saw a very strong $260,000 gross as a result. Averaging $6,190, the film -- which chronicles the life of reggae legend Bob Marley -- is off to a very good start ahead of further expansion and despite its presence on VOD (which it also debuted on this weekend).

"Darling Companion" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics released Lawrence Kasdan's first film since 2003 -- "Darling Companion" -- at 4 locations this weekend to somewhat disappointing results. "Companion" grossed $46,296 for a respectable $11,574 average. Though considering the presence of Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins, one might have expected some higher numbers. 

"Goodbye First Love" (Sundance Selects)
Mia Hansen-Love's French "Goodbye First Love" made its way to America this weekend care of Sundance Selects, who released it on 4 screens in New York and Los Angeles. The result was a unimpressive $21,200 gross, for a $5,300 average. "Goodbye First Love" will roll out to major markets throughout May.

"The Moth Diaries" (IFC Midnight)
Sundance Selects sister distributor IFC Midnight released Mary Harron's boarding school horror flick "The Moth Diaries" on 2 screens, and the results were very weak as the film took in $2,400 from 2 screens, averaging $1,200.

"Jesus Henry Christ" (EOne)
A year after it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, Dennis Lee's "Jesus Henry Christ" -- starring Toni Collette and Michael Sheen -- opened on 3 screens this weekend, and the results were not strong. The film took in $9,298 for a $3,099 average.

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "Monsieur Lazhar," "Woman Thou Art Loosed!," "Damsels in Distress" and "Bully," continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

"Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On The 7th Day" (CodeBlack Entertainment)
Following a very strong debut last weekend, CodeBlack Entertainment saw a massive drop off from Neema Barnette's "Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th Day."  Likely in part due to competition from the similarly African-American #1 studio movie of the weekend, "Think Like a Man," "7th Day" dropped 78% as it went from 102 to 106 screens.

Monsieur Lazhar

Starring Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal as a couple whose six-year-old daughter is kidnapped, the film grossed $140,383 -- averaging $1,325 (down from last weekend's average of $6,376). That gave the film a new total of $889,425.

"Monsieur Lazhar" (Music Box Films)
The last release among the Academy Award nominees for best foreign language film, Music Box Films took Quebec's "Monsieur Lazhar" from 19 to 33 screens in its second weekend. Grossing a strong $157,311, the film -- which follows an Algerian immigrant who takes over the elementary school classroom of a teacher who has committed suicide --- averaged a solid $4,767 and took its total to $310,966.

Music Box will expand the film significantly in the coming weeks, and a $1 million+ gross seems likely. "Lazhar" has already grossed over $3 million at the Canadian box office.

"Blue Like Jazz" (Roadside Attractions)
Steve Taylor's "Blue Like Jazz" -- which premiered at SXSW last month -- dropped from 136 to 126 theaters in its second weekend care of Roadside Attractions. Based on Donald Miller's book, the film follows a teenager trying to escape his Bible-Belt upbringing. It fell off considerably from its somewhat disappointing opening frame, grossing $130,080 over the weekend and averaging $1,032. Its total now stands at $467,639.

"Damsels in Distress" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Whit Stillman's first film in almost 15 years, "Damsels in Distress," expanded from 22 to 46 screens this weekend care of Sony Pictures Classics.   Taking in $122,524, the film saw a 49% jump in grosses as it averaged $2,664 and took its total to $319,812 after three weekends.

Stillman has only directed four films over the course of his 22-year career, the last being 1998's "The Last Days of Disco."  "Disco" eventually totalled $3 million, a number "Damsels" would need some very strong holding power in future expansion to achieve.

"We Have a Pope" (Sundance Selects)
Also in its thirdweekend was Sundance Selects' release of Nanni Moretti's "We Have a Pope." Expanding from 15 to 18 screens, the film took in $41,000 for a $2,300 average. The film -- which premiered in competition at last year's Cannes Film Festival -- has now taken in $161,400.

"Bully" (The Weinstein Company)
Lee Hirsch's much-discussed doc "Bully" expanded from 158 to 263 screens in its second weekend with a "PG-13" rating.  The result was so-so, with the film dropping 6% despite the expansion.  It took in $505,000, averaging a respectable $1,920 as it took its gross so far to $1,529,611. Considering it appears to have peaked last weekend, the film should end up with a still impressive final gross around $3 million.  Currently, it's the second-highest grossing doc of 2012, just behind surprise breakout "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." 

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (Magnolia)
Speaking of "Sushi"... A look at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, the film held steady on 70 screens in its seventh weekend and took in a fantastic $160,000. That made for a $2,286 average and took the film's total to $1,544,629. A year after it made its North American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, "Sushi" has turned into a considerable success story.

"The Raid: Redemption" (Sony Pictures Classics)
After making a huge expansion last weekendm Gareth Evans' much-anticipated Indonesian action flick "The Raid: Redemption" dropped from 881 to 548 in its fifth frame.  Released by Sony Pictures Classics after acclaimed festival screenings at Toronto and Sundance, the film expectedly lost 50% of its grosses, taking in $408,866. That made for a weak $877 average but it still helped give the reported $1.1 million-budgeted "The Raid" an impressive new total of $3,501,777.

"The Deep Blue Sea" (Music Box Films)
Also in its fifth weekend, Terence Davies' acclaimed Rachel Weisz-starrer dropped from 53 to 46 screens care of Music Box Films and found respectable numbers as a result. "The Deep Blue Sea" grossed $86,911, averaging $1,889 (impressively a higher average than last weekend). The film's total now stands at $764,920.

"The Kid With a Bike" (Sundance Selects)
Another brotherly filmmaking duo, Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, had much better news with their "Kid With a Bike." Expanding from 70 to 86 screens in its sixth weekend care of Sundance Selects, the film grossed a strong $163,000 -- averaging $1,900. "Kid" has now grossed $954,000 and should hit the $1 million mark this week. The film has now well surpassed the $651,941 that "L'Enfant" grossed back in 2006 to become the highest grossing film ever for the Dardenne brothers.

"Footnote" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Another Cannes 2011 alum, Israeli import "Footnote" held on nicely in its seventh weekend after expanding from 84 to 93 screens. Sony Classics saw Joseph Cedar's film drop just 2% as a result, taking in $190,775 and averaging $2,051.  The film has now totalled $1,356,496.

"Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" (CBS Films)
Also in its seventh weekend was Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen," which went from 435 to 446 screens and dropped 25% in grosses, suggesting "Yemen" has peaked. Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $670,000 - still a very stong number, and enough to take its total to $7,057,749.  That puts the film just behind "Friends With Kids" -- which took its total to $7,086,033 this weekend -- as the top grossing specialty release of 2012 so far.

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.

This article is related to: Box Office, Marley