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by Peter Knegt
October 14, 2012 1:20 PM
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Specialty Box Office: 'Middle' Tops Debuts; 'Paperboy' Plummets In Second Weekend

"The Paperboy"
The Holdovers:

"The Paperboy" (Millennium)
Lee Daniels' Southern gothic flick expanded from 11 to 49 screens this weekend care of Millennium Entertainment and found very disappointing numbers.  Rising just 1% in grosses despite more than quadrupling the screen count, "The Paperboy" grossed $103,995 for a weak $2,122 average. Considering its starry cast (Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack and Nicole Kidman), one might have thought it could manage a lot better, even with its generally negative reviews. After 10 days, the film's total stands at $244,785.

READ MORE: REVIEW: Is Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy' So Bad Its Good? Only If That's What You Want From It.

"The House I Live In" (Abramorama)
Not holding on that much better in its second weekend (though clearly with smaller expectations) was Eugene Jarecki's highly acclaimed doc "The House I Live In."  Going from 2 to 8 screens, the film -- which looks at the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy -- grossed $22,470, averaging $2,809. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for a U.S. doc at Sundance, the film has now totalled $46,713.

"Wuthering Heights" (Oscilloscope)
Oscilloscope expanded Andrea Arnold's adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" from 1 to 4 screens in its second weekend. The result was a slight 12% rise in grosses, taking in just $10,000 for a $2,500 average. "Heights" now has a total gross of $23,117.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (Summit)
Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" -- adapted from Chboksy's own 1999 novel -- had a healthy fourth weekend in expansion.

Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as a trio of teenage misfits in 1990s Pittsburgh, Summit Entertainment expanded the film aggressively from 221 to 726 screens and jumped 36%. That resulted in a $2,166,000 gross, which made for a very respectable $2,983 per-theater-average. The film's total so far stands at $6,151,445, and Summit should easily see the film pass the $10 million mark.

READ MORE: Ezra Miller On His New Role, Queer Representation in Cinema and the 'Perks' of Being Honest About Your Sexuality

"How To Survive a Plague" (Sundance Selects)
In its fourth weekend was David France's intensely acclaimed look at AIDS activism on New York, "How To Survive a Plague." On 9 screens (up from 7), the film struggled to find audiences, taking in $12,600 for a $1,400 average. The film's total now stands at $92,000.

"The Master" (The Weinstein Company)
Paul Thomas Anderson's veiled take on Scientology -- which stars  Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams -- dropped from 864 to 682 theaters in its fifth weekend and took a hit.

Falling 56% in grosses, "The Master" took in $823,000. Its $1,207 average helped make it clear that "The Master" has peaked, box office wise. Its total gross so far -- $13,919,908  -- makes competing with the $40.2 million Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" grossed (or half that) seem unlikely.

"Arbitrage" (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Also in its fifth weekend was "Arbitrage." Going from 245 down to 195 screens across North America, the film -- which stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon -- grossed $363,350.  Like "The Master," that's a big drop-off from last weekend, though overall nothing to be disappointed by (particularly given expectations for "Arbitrage" were much less than "The Master"). It made for a $1,863 average, and helped its total grow to $6,673,239 (impressive considering it was release day and date on VOD).

"Detropia" (Loki Films Release)
"Detropia" -- a doc directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady -- held steady with an 11 screen count in its sixth weekend.

The film -- self-released by Ewing and Grady -- grossed $16,215 over the weekend, which made for a $1,474 average and a new total of $253,458.

The October 19 weekend will bring a number of new markets, including Seattle, Miami, Denver, Baltimore, Pittsbrugh, Cleveland and others.

READ MORE: 'Detropia' Filmmakers Explain DIY Distribution and How the Sundance Institute Artist Services Program Works

"Sleepwalk With Me" (IFC Films)
Mike Birbiglia's semi-autiobiographical "Sleepwalk With Me" continued to find success in its eighth frame. Dropping from 100 to 70 theaters, the film scored a $70,000 gross, giving it a $1,000 per-theater-average and a new total of $2,120,000.

"Samsara" (Oscilloscope)
Also in its eighth weekend was "Samsara," the non-narrative film created by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson. The film is a sort of sequel or continuation of the acclaimed 1993 film "Baraka," which also was directed by Fricke and produced by Magidson. "Samsara" was shot in about 100 locations in 25 countries and took four years to make. As described on the film's website, it "explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, 'Samsara' takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation."  

While that synopsis definitely doesn't scream "blockbuster," it has clearly appealed to many folks. Dropping from 52 to 48 screens, "Samsara" lost just 11% to gross $112,944 and average $2,353. The film's total now stands at $1,800,564. Back in 1993, "Baraka" grossed $1,254,237. "Samsara" should end up doubling that. Its also already topped "We Need To Talk About Kevin" as the highest grossing Oscilloscope release ever.

"Searching For Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Finally, Sony Pictures Classics aggressively expanded Malik Bendjelloul's doc "Searching For Sugar Man" from 38 to 157 screens in its 12th weekend. The film -- which won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year  -- follows two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock'n'roller Rodriguez. It took in $202,767 over the weekend, jumping 134% and averaging $1,292. Its total now stands at $1,697,639.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Editor and box office analyst. 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.

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