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Specialty Box Office: 'Queen' Reigns For Indie Debuts; LCD Soundsystem Doc Has Great 'One Night Only'

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 23, 2012 at 1:36PM

In the midst of a media storm resulting first from the hype surrounding the release of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," and then from the tragic events that occurred at a screening of the film early Friday morning, two documentaries from the Sundance Film Festival -- Lauren Greenfield's "The Queen of Versailles" and Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace's LCD Soundsystem doc "Shut Up and Play The Hits" -- opened to quite strong numbers (though the latter actually opened on Wednesday for an exclusive night of screenings). Aided by potent showings from holdovers like "The Imposter," "To Rome With Love," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Farewell My Queen," it all made for a strong summer weekend at the specialty box office.
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David and Jackie Siegel in 'The Queen of Versailles'
David and Jackie Siegel in 'The Queen of Versailles'

In the midst of a media storm resulting first from the hype surrounding the release of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," and then from the tragic events that occurred at a screening of the film early Friday morning, two documentaries from the Sundance Film Festival -- Lauren Greenfield's "The Queen of Versailles" and  Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace's LCD Soundsystem doc "Shut Up and Play The Hits"  -- opened to quite strong numbers (though the latter actually opened on Wednesday for an exclusive night of screenings). Aided by potent showings from holdovers like "The Imposter," "To Rome With Love," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Farewell My Queen," it all made for a strong summer weekend at the specialty box office.

The box office reporting this weekend was delayed in light of the tragic events at a "Dark Knight Rises" screening early Friday morning. While some indie releases reported yesterday anyway, Indiewire decided to move its report from Sunday to Monday anyway. 

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"The Queen Of Versailles" (Magnolia)
Magnolia released Lauren Greenfield's much-discussed Sundance doc "The Queen of Versailles" on 3 screens this weekend to very strong results. The film -- which won the best directing award at Sundance -- grossed $54,000 for a potent per-theater-average of $18,000.

"Queen" follows a couple building 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 will open in San Francisco, Boston, DC, San Diego, Atlanta and Philadelphia this Friday, before further expansion on August 3rd.

"Shut Up And Play The Hits" (Oscilloscope)
Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace's LCD Soundsystem doc "Shut Up and Play The Hits" opened last Wednesday for a "one night only" screening on 160 screens across North America. The result on opening day was impressive. The film took in $345,000 for a daily average of $2,156. Distributor Oscilloscope added encore shows the following day due to demand and saw the film's overall gross grow to $378,751. The film's run has now been extended in some markets.

"Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai" (Tribeca Film)
Tribeca Film released Takashi Miike's 3-D drama "Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai" on 2 screens this weekend. The alum of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival managed a $10,920 gross, averaging $5,460.

The film notably did quite well New York's IFC Center, the film grossed $9,338 for the weekend. Initially limited by opening on just a 60 seat screen, the film was quickly promoted to a larger 110 seat screen. The film's weak $1,582 gross at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles was not so impressive.

Tribeca Film is set to bring the title to major markets including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco over the next few weeks, with more dates to be added soon.

"The Well Digger's Daughter" (Kino Lorber)
Daniel Auteuil's update of Marcel Pagnol's "The Well Digger's Daughters" opened on 3 screens in New York and Seattle this weekend and took in $13,000. Released through Kino Lorber, the film averaged $4,333. It will expand next Friday to LA, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia, with many more markets to follow in August and September.

For a report on holdover releases, including "The Imposter," "Farewell My Queen," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "To Rome With Love" and "Moonrise Kingdom," continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

"The Imposter"
"The Imposter"

"The Imposter" (Indomina)
Indomina kept acclaimed Sundance doc "The Imposter" on a single screen in its second weekend and found some very strong results. 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 $12,246 gross from the film, the highest per theater average of any film in release save "The Dark Knight Rises."

"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 4 to 11 theaters in its second weekend care of Cohen Media Group. The result was quite strong as the film took in another $96,910 for a $8,810 per-theatre-average. The film's total now stands at $201,410.

"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 from 1 to 4 screens this weekend (via Rocky Mountain Pictures, or the same folks that brought you "Atlas Shrugged, Part I" and "An Inconsistent Truth"). The result was a strong $33,020 gross, averaging $8,255 (which was a steep drop from the rather massive $31,750 it averaged from a single screen next weekend).  The film's total now stands at $80,000.

"The Obama Effect" (ARC Entertainment)
Another Obama-themed film didn't manage so well in its second weekend.  Arc Entertainment's narrative film "The Obama Effect -- directed and starring Charles S. Dutton -- was released exclusively through AMC theaters on 25 screens last weekend, and then dropped to 21 in its second frame.  The film grossed just $6,000 averaging only $286. The film is a fictional account of the "Obama fever of 2008," focusing on the life of one man (Dutton) who deals with the ups and downs of the campaign. Its total now stands at $103,000.

"Trishna" (Sundance Selects)
Michael Winterbottom's "Trishna" went from 3 to 16 screens in its second weekend through Sundance Selects. It took in $40,000 for a mild $2,500 average. Starring Freida Pinto, the film follows the relationship between the son of a property developer and the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner. The film has now totalled $89,000.

"Easy Money" (The Weinstein Company)
The Weinstein Company held Swedish import "Easy Money" static on two screens in its second weekend. Starring future "Robocop" Joel Kinnaman, the film took in $15,256 for a decent $7,629 average. The film's total now stands at $52,000.

"Red Lights" (Millennium Entertainment)
Not faring so well this weekend was Rodrigo Cortés's "Red Lights," despite the marketable presence of Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy. On 2 screens (the same as its opening frame last weekend), the film grossed only $2,760 -- averaging just $1,380. Its total now stands at $17,268.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight)
Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" expanded from 81 to 129 theaters in its fourth frame and continued to find very strong numbers. The film took in a $762,000 gross over the weekend, which made for a $5,905 average. Its total now stands at $2,900,000 with a few more million likely en route.

"To Rome With Love" (Sony Pictures Classics)
After a massive expansion two weekends ago, Sony Classics took Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love" down to 552 screens from 552. The result was a very respectable gross of $1,552,054, averaging $2,812.  The film's total now stands at $11,239,156, and it should easily be heading for a gross north of $15 million.  While that's not "Midnight in Paris" numbers, it would still make the third highest grossing specialty release of the year after "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Moonrise Kingdom."

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
In its ninth weekend, Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" lost screens for the first time as it went from 924 to 895. lt still held on strong, taking in $1,800,000 and placing in the overall top 10 yet again. Its $2,086 average helped the film find a new total of $35,160,390. It 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 $40 million mark -- rivalling "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" as the highest grossing indie of 2012 so far.

"Take This Waltz" (Magnolia/Entertainment One)
Magnolia (who has US distribution rights) and Entertainment One (who has Canadian rights) teamed up to release Canadian icon Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz."  In its fourth frame, the film expanded from 47 to 60 screens and took in $125,000 for a repsectable $2,083 averafe.

"Waltz" has grossed $826,980 heading into further expansion, and is notably also available on VOD.

"Neil Young Journeys" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Speaking of Canadians, Sony Classics expanded another Canadian icon-centric film -- Jonathan Demme's doc "Neil Young Journeys" -- from 9 to 11 theaters in its fourth weekend and saw a $17,930 gross as a result, averaging $1,630 per theater. The film's total now stands at $84,824.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" (Film District)
Film District's Sundance Film Festival pickup "Safety Not Guaranteed" (starring Mark Duplass) dropped from 182 to 124 screens in its seventh weekend and lost 54% of its grosses as a result. It took in $157,000, enough for a $1,266 average and an admirable new total of $2,940,529.

"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables" expanded from 83 to 91 theaters for its ninth frame and held on very well. It lost only 25% of its grosses took in an estimated $322,000 averaging $3,538. That helped it cross the $4 million mark.

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Finally, Millennium Entertainment continued to find legs via Richard Linklater's dark comedy "Bernie." Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, the film managed strong numbers in its whopping 13th weekend. Inching up from 103 to 104 screens, the film took in another $164,000.  That made for a average of $1,578 and new total of $8,371,221. The film has now surpassed "Dazed and Confused" as the highest grossing independently released film of Linklater's career. More on the success of "Bernie" here.

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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