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Specialty Box Office: 'Progress' Leads Openers; 'Marigold Hotel' Expands To Huge Numbers

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 13, 2012 at 1:34PM

As "The Avengers" continued to dominate the overall box office, Fox Searchlight continued to find fantastic numbers from what is soon to be the highest grossing indie of 2012, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." The film is certainly the specialty story of mother's day weekend, which also saw a decent debut from "Girl in Progress" and less promising starts from "Where Do We Go Now?," "God Bless America" and "I Wish."
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As "The Avengers" continued to dominate the overall box office, Fox Searchlight continued to find fantastic numbers from what is soon to be the highest grossing indie of 2012, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." The film is certainly the specialty story of mother's day weekend, which also saw a decent debut from "Girl in Progress" and less promising starts from "Where Do We Go Now?," "God Bless America" and "I Wish."

Check out the full rundown below, including numbers for The Weinstein Company's very unsuccessful attempt to expand "The Artist" one last time.

The Debuts:

"Girl In Progress" (Lionsgate and Pantelion)
Patricia Riggen's single mom film "Girl In Progress" had a very hopeful start this Mother's Day weekend.  The film -- which stars Eva Mendes -- got an aggressive start on 322 screens and managed to pull in $1,350,000. That made for a strong $4,193 per-theater-average, and gave Pantelion its second consecutive film to debut in the top 10. Back in March, "Casa de Mi Padre" did so.  The company -- which bills itself as the "first major Latino Hollywood film studio" -- was created in 2010. "Girl" marks its fifth film to cross the $1 million mark.

"Where Do We Go Now?" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics has had a lot of success with foreign language films recently (most notably "A Separation" and "Footnote"), but that streak doesn't look like it will continue with Nadine Labaki's Lebanese import "Where Do We Go Now." On 3 screens, the film debuted to a $16,776 gross -- averaging a so-so $5,592.

"God Bless America" and "I Wish" (both Magnolia Pictures)
Magnolia debuted both Bobcat Goldthwait's "God Bless America" and Hirokazu Koreeda's "I Wish" this weekend, and neither found hopeful numbers. On 13 screens, "America" grossed $28,550, averaging $2,196. "I Wish" fared worse, taking in $9,960 from 5 screens for a $1,992 average.

"The Road" (Freestyle Releasing)
Yam Laranas's Filipino psychological-horror film "The Road" landed in 50 theaters thanks to Freestyle Releasing.  The film -- not to be confused with John Hillocoat's 2009 adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel -- grossed a weak $61,200 as a result, averaging just $1,224.

For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Bernie," "Sound of My Voice" continue to the next page.

Richard Linklater's "Bernie."
The Holdovers:

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
Coming off a stunning $70 million (and counting) gross overseas, John Madden's older audience skewing "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" continued to prove itself one of 2012's first true indie breakouts this weekend.

On 178 screens (up from 27), the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- grossed a fantastic $2,650,000.  That gave it a glowing $14,888 per-theater-average, the highest of any film in release save "The Avengers."

"Moms love the 'Marigold Hotel' as evidenced by the sold out theatres playing in North America," Fox Searchlight's Sheila DeLoach -- EVP Distribution -- told Indiewire. "It was terrific counterprogramming for the adult audience against the two tent pole films in the market place.  Clearly, it was a Happy Mother’s Day for the 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'"

Next weekend the film will expand to an additional 24 markets and increase to a total of approximately 300.  The national release will be the following holiday weekend and the film will be in over 800 theatres. Its total now stands at $3,722,516, with a $10 million+ gross all but assured.

"First Position" (Sundance Selects)
Bess Kargman's ballet documentary "First Position" expanded from 5 to 24 theaters in its second weekend.  The result was a $91,200 gross, averaging a respectable $3,800. The film has now totalled $161,200;

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's dark comedy did good business in its third weekend out. Expanding from 8 to 36 theaters, the film jumped 54% as it took in another $216,501, averaging $6,014.  The film will make significant expansions on May 18th and June 1st, but for now has taken in $537,051.

"Sound of My Voice" (Fox Searchlight)
Despite very strong reviews and an innovative marketing campaign, Zal Batmanglij's "Sound of My Voice" continued to stumble in its third weekend. Expanding from 28 to 46 screens, the film -- which stars Brit Marling as the leader of a cult -- grossed a so-so $56,500 averaging only $1,228. The film's total now stands at $187,675.

"Elles" (Kino Lorber)
Kino Lorber had the Juliette Binoche-starring "Elles" on 12 this weekend. The NC-17 rated French import took in a weak $10,000 as a result for an average of $833. Its total now stands at $90,956.

"Headhunters" (Magnolia)
On 25 screens (up from 16), Norwegian import "Headhunters" outperformed both "Sound" and "Elles" in its third weekend with a strong $100,000 gross, averaging $4,000. Directed by Morten Tyldum, the film was a huge hit in its native Norway, having the second best opening weekend in Norwegian history. Magnolia will expand the film in the next few weeks. Its total stands at $273,000 so far.

"Marley" (Magnolia Pictures)
Kevin Macdonald's Bob Marley doc held steady on 55 screens in its fourth weekend and took in $70,000 as a result, averaging $1,272.  That gave it a new total of $906,000, and it's likely the film will hit the $1 million mark despite its presence on VOD (where it also debuted four weekends ago).

"Darling Companion" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics expanded Lawrence Kasdan's first film since 2003 -- "Darling Companion" -- from 46 to 64 locations in its fourth weekend. "Companion" -- starring Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins -- grossed $66,130 as a result -- a 28% drop from last weekend despite adding the screens. That made for a $1,033 average and a disappointing new total of $337,923.

"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 81 down to 70 screens in its fifth weekend. Grossing $115,689, the film -- which follows an Algerian immigrant who takes over the elementary school classroom of a teacher who has committed suicide --- averaged $1,543 and took its total to $1,118,714.

"Lazhar" has now joined "A Separation" and "Footnote" as the third foreign film Oscar nominee to cross the $1 million mark.. "Lazhar" has already grossed over $3 million at the Canadian box office, which is not included in its reporting total (notably, many films do include Canadian numbers in their total, but "Lazhar" has different distributors in Canada and the U.S.).

"Damsels in Distress" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Whit Stillman's first film in almost 15 years, "Damsels in Distress" dropped 93 screens to 112 this weekend care of Sony Pictures Classics.   Taking in $59,038, the film dropped 61% in grosses, averaging only $527 as it took its total to $749,262 after six 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" is very unlikely to achieve. At this point, the $1 million mark is all it can hope for.

"Bully" (The Weinstein Company)
Lee Hirsch's much-discussed doc "Bully" held steady on 263 screens in its  fifthweekend with a "PG-13" rating.  The film dropped 17% in grosses and took in $142,000 as a result. That made for a weak $540 average as it took its gross so far to $2,871,242. Considering it has clearly peaked, the film should end up with a still impressive final gross around $3 million. Notably, it's the highest grossing doc of 2012, just ahead of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (Magnolia)
Speaking of "Sushi"... A look at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, the film went from 61 to 50 screens in its tenth weekend and took in another $67,000. That made for a $1,340 average and took the film's total to $2,110,000.  Just over a year after it made its North American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, "Sushi" has turned into a considerable success story -- its only the second doc to cross the $2 million mark this year.

"The Deep Blue Sea" (Music Box Films)
In its seventh weekend, Terence Davies' acclaimed Rachel Weisz-starrer went from 36 to 37 screens care of Music Box Films and crossed the $1 million mark as a result. "The Deep Blue Sea" grossed $27,646, averaging $747. The film has held on very nicely over its run, with a new total of $1,001,211.

"The Kid With a Bike" (Sundance Selects)
Going from 70 to 60 screens in its ninth weekend, Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne saw their "Kid With a Bike" -- which debuted nearly a year ago at the Cannes Film Festival -- gross another $42,000, averaging $700.  The Sundance Selects release has now totalled an impressive $1,310,000.

"Footnote" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Another Cannes 2011 alum, Israeli import "Footnote" went from 82 to 91 screens in its tenth weekend.  Sony Classics saw Joseph Cedar's film drop 22% as a result, taking in $68,256 and averaging $750.  The film has now totalled $1,791,375.

"The Artist" (The Weinstein Company)
Finally, The Weinstein Company decided to give "The Artist" one last shot as it expanded it from 41 to 751 screens in its whopping 25th weekend of release. The results were not good.  Grossing $161,000, the film averaging a meager $214. The film has now totalled $44,411,629 and its now officially clear there's not much more where that came from.
 

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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