By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 30, 2012 at 1:06PM
Paul Thomas Anderson's veiled take on Scientology -- which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams -- expanded from 788 to 856 theaters in its third weekend and took a bit of a hit. This after the huge potential that came with its stunning $147,262 first weekend per-theater-average (a record).
Falling 37% in grosses despite the new screens, "The Master" took in $2,745,000 to land in 7th place in the overall top 10 (just ahead of the second weekend of "Dredd," which was on nearly 3 times the screens). Its $3,207 average was respectable, though overall it seems clear "The Master" peaked last weekend. Its total gross so far -- $9,633,070 -- could still potentially double. But making its way to the $40.2 million Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" grossed seems unlikely.
"Arbitrage" (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Also in its third weekend was "Arbitrage," which was coming off the biggest opening ever for a film opening in both movie theaters and On Demand two weeks ago. Going from 244 to 256 screens across North America, the film -- which stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon -- grossed $923,000. Like "The Master," that's a 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 $3,600 average, and helped its total grow to $5,163,579. The film has definitely turned into a major specialty hit.
"Liberal Arts" (IFC Films)
Another third weekender was Josh Radnor's "Liberal Arts," which stars Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen. In 31 locations (up from 20 last weekend), the Sundance pickup managed a $49,500 gross, averaging $1,600 per theater. Its total now stands at $159,600.
"Detropia" (Loki Films Release)
"Detropia" -- a doc directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady -- held steady with an 11 screen count in its fourth weekend (though did open on new screens in San Francisco, it just ended its run elsewhere).
The film -- self-released by Ewing and Grady -- grossed $28,050 over the weekend, which made for a $2,550 average and a new total of $178,613. It will open in Los Angeles next weekend.
"Hello I Must Be Going" (Oscilloscope)
Todd Louiso's "Hello I Must Be Going" -- starring Melanie Lynskey in an acclaimed performance as a divorced and depressed woman -- went down from 15 to 11 screens in its fourth weekend care of Oscilloscope. It took in $9,945 as a result, a 52% drop as it averaged a weak $904. Its total stands at $84,990.
"For a Good Time, Call..." (Focus Features)
Jamie Travis' comedy "For a Good Time" -- starring Lauren Miller (who also co-wrote) and Ari Graynor -- dropped from 105 to 84 screens in its fifth weekend care of Focus Features. Dropping 65%, it took in $52,123 over the weekend, averaging $621. That took the film to a new total of $1,203,709.
"Sleepwalk With Me" (IFC Films)
Mike Birbiglia's semi-autiobiographical "Sleepwalk With Me" continued to find success in its sixth frame. Dropping from 135 to 127 theaters, the film scored a $165,100 gross, giving it a $1,300 per-theater-average and a new total of $1,890,875. That tops "Your Sister's Sister" as the distributor's highest grossing film so far in 2012, and its best since "Pina," which came out last Christmas.
Also in its sixth 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. Going from 59 to 60 screens, "Samsara" lost just 20% to gross $153,695 and average $2,562. The film's total now stands at $1,400,317. Back in 1993, "Baraka" grossed $1,254,237.
"Robot and Frank" (IDP / Samuel Goldwyn Films)
In its seventh frame was Sundance Film Festival alum "Robot and Frank," which dropped from 156 to 111 screens. Grossing $111,000 over the weekend, the film averaged $1,000, which helped it cross the $3 million mark.
Starring Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon (whose a bit of a good luck charm between this and "Arbitrage"), the comedy follows an aging ex-convict (Langella), whose children hire a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to care for him. The film's total now stands at an impressive $3,075,686.
"Searching For Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Finally, Sony Pictures Classics dropped Malik Bendjelloul's doc "Searching For Sugar Man" from 38 to 37 screens in its tenth 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 $96,649 over the weekend, jumping 4% despite losing a screen and averaging a strong $2,612. Its total now stands at $1,320,049.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.