Roger Ebert on Martin Scorsese: An Excerpt from "Life Itself: A Memoir"
Image courtesy of Grand Central Publishing, a Division of Hachette Book Group.

Coming off a disappointing June, the studios had an even worse kick off to July with a lackluster Independence Day weekend led by the second weekend of "Transformers: Age of Extinction." And it appears the little guys benefited, at least to a degree.

While newcomers were scarce, among them was Steve James' Roger Ebert doc "Life Itself," which pulled in decent numbers given its screen count and the fact that it was released day and date on VOD and digital. Though the real beneficiaries of mediocre options at the multiplexes were a trio of very different films in their second weekends: The Weinstein Company's musical romance "Begin Again," RADiUS-TWC's release of Boon Jon-Ho's sci-fi action film "Snowpiercer," and Dinesh D'Souza's right wing documentary "America."

Check out our full report:

The Debuts:

Debut Winner of the Weekend:

"Life Itself."

Not that it had much competition in that regard, with only one other "new" release -- Janus Films' re-issue of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night -- reporting estimates. But credit is still due to Steve James' adaptation of sorts of Roger Ebert's memoir of the same name. Magnolia aggressively sent the very well-reviewed doc out on 23 screens in 14 markets, not to mention on VOD and digital platforms. And while the resulting theatrical gross -- $138,000 -- wasn't extraordinary, it's resulting $6,000 average is definitely within (or slightly above) expectation and promising as the film goes forward. Next weekend, Magnolia will add another 25 theaters, and Ebert's "Life" should be in 100 theaters across the country by July 18th.


"A Hard Day's Night."  While its per-theater-average might not seem like much, the Beatles re-issue had the years highest repertory opening at Film Forum and sold out shows across the country. The average is low because in many markets it played single special event shows or just a a couple shows over the weekend. The 102 screens break down like this:

Event screenings: 19
Split Weekend (single show daily): 41
Split (traditional - more than one show/but less than full shows): 40
Full Schedule: (2) Film Forum; Cinefamily

So that's definitely something for the folks at Janus Films to celebrate.

This Weekend's Debuts:

1. Life Itself (Magnolia)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $138,000
Theaters: 23
Per-Theater-Average: $6,000
Total Gross: $138,000
Criticwire Average: A-

2. A Hard Day's Night: 50th Anniversary Re-Issue (Janus)
Week: 1
Weekend Gross: $160,000
Theaters: 102
Per-Theater-Average: $1,569
Total Gross: $160,000
Criticwire Average: A-

Head over to the next page for a rundown of holdover grosses...