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Specialty Box Office: 'New York' and 'Red Hook' Lead Debuts; 'Sparks' Stumbles In Expansion

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 12, 2012 at 12:40PM

Two very different films set in New York -- Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" and Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer" -- led the limited debuts this weekend, each finding so-so averages just north of $10,000. They led an overall strong specialty box office, which saw continued success from films like "Celeste and Jesse Forever," "Killer Joe," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Queen of Versailles." However, Fox Searchlight saw its aggressive expansion of "Ruby Sparks" stumble, making it clear they most definitely don't have another "Little Miss Sunshine" on their hands with the Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris-directed film.
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"2 Days in New York."

Two very different films set in New York -- Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" and Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer" -- led the limited debuts this weekend, each finding so-so averages just north of $10,000. They led an overall strong specialty box office, which saw continued success from films like "Celeste and Jesse Forever," "Killer Joe," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Queen of Versailles." However, Fox Searchlight saw its aggressive expansion of "Ruby Sparks" stumble, making it clear they most definitely don't have another "Little Miss Sunshine" on their hands with the Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris-directed film.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"2 Days in New York" (Magnolia Pictures)
Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" opened on 2 screens this weekend care of Magnolia Pictures (who are also releasing the film on VOD). The result was a $27,000 gross and a $13,500 average, the highest of any film in release.

A sort-of sequel to "2 Days in Paris," the film stars Delpy and Chris Rock. Though its opening numbers are decent, they do fail in comparison to "Paris." That film opened on 10 screens in 2007 and averaged $17,364. It ended up totalling $4,433,994.

"Red Hook Summer" (Variance/40 Acres)
Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer" opened on four screens in New York City this weekend and grossed an estimated $42,100. That made for a respectable per-theater average of $10,525. The film was released by Variance Films/40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

"We're very excited, and think this is a great start to the show," Variance Films president Dylan Marchetti said. "As Spike often says, 'no shenanigans' - so rather than play the per-screen average game and open only two theaters, we made sure the film was available to audience in Harlem and of course, the Republic of Brooklyn right on the break, and the reaction from the crowds showed it was clearly worth it."

The film will expand to a handful of theaters around the New York/New Jersey area next weekend, as Marchetti says "rather than get into a fistfight with 'Sparkle,' we'll put our trailer in front of it."  

On August 24th, the film will open six key markets, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philly, Chicago, DC, and Baltimore, and August 31st will see expansion to an additional 12-15 markets.

"Meet The Fokkens" (Kino Lorber)
Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schröder's Dutch documentary "Meet The Fokkens" grossed $8,000 this weekend from an exclusive run at Film Forum in New York.  The film is a look at Louise and Martine Fokkens, 69-year-old twin sisters who have worked as prostitutes in the red-light district in Amsterdam for over 40 years. It's totaled $10,500 since opening Wednesday.

"Max et les Ferrailleurs" (Rialto)
Rialto Pictures’ release of “Max et les Ferrailleurs” (Max and the Junkmen), had its US premiere 41 years after it was made this at the Elinore Bunin Munroe Film Centre in New York. The result was an impressive estimate of $13,000.

For news on holdover releases, including "Celeste and Jesse Forever," "Ruby Sparks," "2016: Obama's America," "The Imposter," "Farewell My Queen," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "To Rome With Love" and "Moonrise Kingdom," continue to the next page.

"Celeste And Jesse Forever"
The Holdovers:

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics' Sundance pickup "Celeste and Jesse Forever" expanded from 4 to 18 screens after having one of the year's best limited debuts last weekend. The film -- written by real-life best friends Rashida Jones (who also stars) and Will McCormack -- grossed $134,394, averaging $7,472 (a good number, but a steep drop from last weekend's $28,003). That  brought the film's total to $289,295.

"Celeste and Jesse" stars Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts and Ari Graynor. It follows a separated couple (Jones and Samberg) who try and remain best friends after breaking up. Sony Classics will expand the film significantly through August.

"360" (Magnolia Pictures)
Led by an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Rachel Weisz, and Jude Law, Fernando Meirelles's "360" expanded from 2 to 9 screens care of Magnolia Pictures this weekend. The result was an unimpressive $10,000 gross, down 18% from its debut last weekend. Averaging just $1,111, the film's total now stands at $26,473.

"Killer Joe" (LD Entertainment)
Despite its NC-17 rating, LD Entertainment continued to see very good numbers from its release of William Friedkin's crime thriller "Killer Joe." Starring Matthew McConaughey (who is having an incredible year) in the title role, the film expanded from 14 to 36 theaters in its third weekend and held on strong. It took in $146,000 for a $4,056 average. Its total now stands at $431,179. The film will continue to expand through August, and it will likely become one of just 14 NC-17 rated films to cross the $1 million mark.

"Ruby Sparks" (Fox Searchlight)
Also in its third weekend was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's long-awaited follow up to "Little Miss Sunshine," "Ruby Sparks." Fox Searchlight took the film -- which stars Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script) -- from 64 to 261 theaters in a very aggresive expansion. But the result saw "Sparks" only jump 14%, taking in $453,000 for a unimpressive $1,736 average. The film has totalled $1,250,498 so far.

"Searching For Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Malik Bendjelloul's doc "Searching For Sugar Man" from 7 to 15 screens in its third weekend. The film -- which won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year (and, as you see below, is one of four Sundance docs in current release) -- 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 $63,250 over the weekend, jumping 63% and averaging $4,217. Its total now stands at $166,376.

"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" (Sundance Selects)
Another documentary alum of the Sundance Film Festival, Alison Klayman's "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," dropped from 26 to 25 screens this weekend care of Sundance Selects. The film --  which chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government -- grossed $62,500 for a $2,500 per-theater-average, essentially on par with last weekend. The film's cume is now $243,200.

"The Queen Of Versailles" (Magnolia)
Magnolia expanded yet another Sundance doc, Lauren Greenfield's much-discussed "The Queen of Versailles," from 68 to 84 screens in its fourth weekend to very strong results. The film -- which won the best directing award at Sundance -- took in another $210,000 as it averaged $2,500 per theater. That made for a new total of $924,544.

"Queen" follows a couple building the second largest and most expensive single-family house in the America, and the crisis they're going through as the US economy goes down. It should cross the $1 million mark in the next few days.

"The Imposter" (Indomina)
Indomina expanded acclaimed doc "The Imposter" (which, yes, debuted at Sundance) from 7 to 13 screens in its fifth weekend. The film -- directed by Bart Layton -- centers on a young Frenchman who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing for 3 years. Indomina saw a $44,343 gross from the film, averaging $3,411 per screen. Its total stands at $168,328.   

"Farewell My Queen" (Cohen Media Group)
Benoît Jacquot's "Farewell My Queen" -- a look at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers during the final days of the French Revolution -- went from 56 to 64 theaters in its fifth weekend care of Cohen Media Group. The result was quite strong as the film took in another $107,514 for a $1,680 per-theatre-average. The film's total now stands at $811,045

"2016 Obama's America" (Rocky Mountain Pictures)
The anti-Barack Obama documentary “2016: Obama’s America" -- written and directed by John Sullivan and “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” author Dinesh D’Souza -- expanded significantly this weekend from 10 to 61. Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures (the same folks that brought you "Atlas Shrugged, Part I" and "An Inconsistent Truth"), the film did very well as a result, jumping 838% in grosses as it took in $320,206. Its $5,249 average helped take its total to $572,746 and its quite possible it will end up passing the $1 million mark in the next few weeks.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight)
Benh Zeitlin's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild" saw its grosses decline for the first time in its seventh weekend as it lost 32 screens (it went from 318 to 286). The film dropped 36% as it took in $735,000 to push past the $7 million mark.  Averaging $2,570, the film's total now stands at $7,172,273, with a few more million likely en route. The film has now impressively topped the grosses of recent Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners "Like Crazy" and "Winter's Bone."

"To Rome With Love" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics took Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love" down to 264 screens from 282 in its eighth weekend. The result was a very respectable gross of $455,471, averaging $1,725. The film's total now stands at $15,125,770, and it should be heading for a gross close to $20 million.  While that's not "Midnight in Paris" numbers, it is the third highest grossing specialty release of the year after "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Moonrise Kingdom." It's also now one of the top 13 grossing Woody Allen-directed films (out of over 40), and his third best in the past decade after "Midnight in Paris" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
Finally, in its whopping twelfth weekend, Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" continued to prove itself one of the summer's biggest indie hits. It lost screens as it went from 687 to 447 and dropped 50% as a result. But it still took in another $624,871, averaging $1,398. That took its total to $42,085,269. "Moonrise Kingdom" is the second highest grossing Anderson film, after 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums." And at this rate, it should be set to easily pass the $45 million mark -- rivalling "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" as the highest grossing indie of 2012 so far (that film's total now stands at $45,387,695).

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.

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