Sure, they aren't "The Avengers"-size numbers, but Joss Whedon had a fantastic debut for his micro-budgeted take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." The film -- distributed by Roadside Attractions (already having a great summer thanks to "Mud" and "Stories We Tell," which both had great weekends as well) -- opened in 5 theaters in New York, LA and San Francisco. It took in $183,400 as a result, averaging $36,680. That's slightly above the $34,350 another recent black-and-white indie hit averaged in its first weekend, "Frances Ha."
Notably the film broke the house record Saturday night at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with a $15,027 gross there, and managed the best opening weekend overall to date.
"Reviews were terrific and anecdotally we're getting a great mixture of the Joss Whedon fans and the classic arthouse and Shakespeare fans," Roadside's Howard Cohen told Indiewire. "The film had a great festival run starting at last years TIFF, and then fantastic 2013 festival run including SXSW and a huge sellout screening as the opening film of Seattle Film Festival. Joss and his ensemble cast did a mammoth amount of PR including festival appearances, an appearance at Wonder Con, the talk show circuit and a plethora of screenings and online interviews."
Roadside is expanding within the three markets on June 14th, and then opening nationwide on a moderate pattern in the 200-300 screen range on June 21st.
Another strong debut came care of Rick Rowley's "Dirty Wars," which Sundance Selects released in 4 theaters in New York, LA and DC. The result was a potent $66,000 gross, averaging $16,500. The film played to sold out shows in all venues, and will expand to the top 10 markets next weekend.
In terms of holdovers, "Before Midnight" led all non-openers in terms of per-theater-average, having perhaps its most impressive weekend yet in its third frame. The third film in the "Before" series collaboration of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, the film went from 31 to 52 screens this weekend and saw its per-theater-average drop only slightly from $13,042 to $11,243. That shows the film is having serious staying power as it expands and bodes well for the film to easily surpass both its predecessors.
All fairing reasonably well were Zeitgeist's "Hannah Arendt," Fox Searchlight's "The East" and CBS Films' "The Kings of Summer," each of which had strong debuts last weekend.
All three had respectable averages between $5,000-$6,100 as they expanded to 5 ("Hannah"), 41 ("The East") and 44 ("Summer") screens, respectively. "The East" was the most impressive of the three, taking in $247,000 for a $6,024 average. Its total now stands at $354,441 and it outgross the final total of director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij and actress/co-writer Brit Marling's previous collaboration "Sound of My Voice" any day now. That film ended its run with $408,015.
Meanwhile, IFC Films saw "Frances Ha" become the second specialty film (after "Mud") to cross the $2 million mark this summer. Expanding to 234 screens, the film grossed $589,680, averaging $2,520 and taking its total to $2,376,860. The film will continue to open in all markets and expand to the suburbs of existing ones.
Continue to the next page for grosses for reporting debuts and holdovers below.