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Specialty Box Office: 'Safety' and 'Dark Horse' Lead Debuts; 'Moonrise' Hits Overall Top 10

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 11, 2012 at 10:01AM

A slew of notable new indie films entered the marketplace this weekend, with Film District's "Safety Not Guaranteed" and Brainstorm Media's "Dark Horse" the only ones to manage per-theater-averages over $10,000. They topped the likes of Fox Searchlight's "Lola Versus" and IFC Film's "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" (while Magnolia's "Bel Ami" did not report their estimates yet), but were overshadowed by the continuing success of Focus Features' release of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom."
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Safety Not Guaranteed

A slew of notable new indie films entered the marketplace this weekend, with Film District's "Safety Not Guaranteed" and Brainstorm Media's "Dark Horse" the only ones to manage per-theater-averages over $10,000. They topped the likes of Fox Searchlight's "Lola Versus" and IFC Film's "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" (while Magnolia's "Bel Ami" did not report their estimates yet), but were overshadowed by the continuing success of Focus Features' release of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom."

In its third weekend, "Kingdom" once again managed the best per-theater-average of any film in release, and looks like it will turn into quite the crossover hit for Focus as it expands more in future weekends.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

"Safety Not Guaranteed" (Film District)
On 9 screens, Film District's Sundance Film Festival pick up "Safety Not Guaranteed" managed a good debut, taking in $100,000. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, the "Safety" stars Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass. It follows three employees of a magazine as they investigate an ad that reads: "Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed."

"Safety" averaged $11,111 this weekend, and notably was released in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland.  The latter two markets are unusual and risky launch pads for a first weekend, but it seems to have paid off.  "Safety" will expand to a total of 17 markets and close to 50 theatres on June 15th, and then expand into a total of 37 markets on the 22nd and roughly 120 theatres.

"Lola Versus" (Fox Searchlight)
Not fairing so well was Fox Searchlight's release of Daryl Wein's romantic comedy "Lola Versus." Starring Greta Gerwig as a woman dealing with life after a long term relationship ends, the film grossed $34,097 from 4 screens over its first weekend, averaging a disapponting $8,524. The film will expand in the coming weeks.   

"Dark Horse" (Brainstorm Media)
The best per-theater-average for a debuting film came from the single screen release of Todd Solondz's sixth feature film, "Dark Horse." Starring Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Jordan Gelber, the film -- which debuted at the Venice Film Festival last year -- grossed $15,000 in its exclusive engagement at New York's Angelika Film Center. The film is the first theatrical release for Brainstorm Media, and is off to a very good start.

“We are extremely proud of the weekend numbers for 'Dark Horse,'” said Ruth Vitale, who is spearheading Brainstorm Media's entry into theatrical. “Todd Solondz is one of the definitive voices in independent cinema, and the combined teams of Brainstorm, Double Hope Films, and Vitagraph have all contributed to his latest film’s success. We are thrilled to be reaching audiences and cultivating awareness.”

"Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" (IFC Films)
Despite the presence of Jane Fonda and Catherine Keeners, IFC Films didn't get particulalry good numbers out of "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" (though its likely to be enjoying better results from its VOD release). The film was released on 30 screens and managed a so-so $102,000 gross, averaging $3,400.  The film will expand into the top 50 markets this upcoming weekend.

For a report on holdover releases, including "Moonrise Kingdom," "The Intouchables," "Bernie" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," continue to the next page.

'Moonrise Kingdom"
'Moonrise Kingdom"
The Holdovers:

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
Focus Features-released "Moonrise Kingdom" followed two stunning weekends in very limited release with an impressive expansion from 16 to   96 theaters.  The result saw it jump 80% and into the overall top 10, where it outgrossed the likes of "Dark Shadows" despite playing on over 1,000 fewer screens.  It took in $1,578,588 which made for a potent $16,444 per-theater-average, the best of any film in release wide or limited. The film's total now stands at $3,749,919.

"'Moonrise Kingdom's box office momentum was strong Saturday with many theaters experiencing near or full sell out conditions carrying over from Friday," Focus Features said in a statement.  "The new opening markets are very strong, all are generating impressive grosses."

The film is having another expansion this upcoming Friday, and if it can continue the momentum of its first three weekends, Focus Features could be looking at a major indie breakout. At the very least, it should easily top $11.9 million Anderson's last live action film, "The Darjeeling Limited," grossed in 2007.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)
Also finding a place in the overall top 10 was John Madden's older-audience skewing "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." In its sixth weekend, the film continued to also prove itself one of 2012's true indie breakouts this weekend care of Fox Searchlight, crossing the $30 million mark.

On 1,298 screens (up slightly from 1,294 last weekend), the film -- which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India -- dropped just 28% to gross a fantastic $3,235,000 over the weekend. That gave it a $2,492  per-theater-average and put it in the overall top six. The film's total now stands at $31,008,579

The film is by far the highest grossing indie of 2012, and a final gross north of $40 million assured. It's already grossed over $100 million worldwide (more on that here).

"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
Also doing well this weekend was Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables," which went from 50 to 77 theaters for its third frame.  It jumped 20% in the process and grossed an estimated $385,000, averaging $5,000. That helped it cross the $1 million mark,  giving it a new total of $1,014,442 as it heads into further expansion.

The film is already a massive hit overseas, taking in over $343 million -- including $166 million in its native France alone. 

"Bernie" (Millennium Entertainment)
Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, Richard Linklater's dark comedy continued to do good business in its seventh weekend. Expanding from 302 to 3332 theaters, the film dropped just 8% as it took in another $821,802, averaging $2,475. That gave it an impressive new total of $4,842,032. The film has already doubled the combined gross of Linklater's previous two film, "Me and Orson Welles" and "Fast Food Nation."

"5 Broken Cameras" (Kino Lorber)
Palestinian-Israeli documentary "5 Broken Cameras" -- which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year -- held on strong during exclusive run at New York's Film Forum. It grossed $8,500 over its second weekend, impressively up 30% from last weekend.  Distributor Kino Lorber will expand the film to San Francisco, Boston and DC later this month, with further expansion through the summer. Its total now stands at $23,551.

"A Cat in Paris" (GKids)
GKids expanded an English-dubbed version of Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol's Oscar-nominated animated film "A Cat in Paris" slightly from 6 to 7 screens this weekend. It dropped a hefty 55% in the process, taking in just $15,689 for a $2,241 average. The film's total now stands at $65,818.

"Hysteria" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tanya Wexler's Victorian-era romantic comedy (about the invention of the vibrator) went from 65 to 84 screens this weekend for Sony Pictures Classics (18 of the screens were in Canada, where it's being released by E1). Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Felicity Jones and Rupert Everett, the film managed a respectable $161,548 gross over the weekend, averaging $1,923. Its total now stands at $701,585.

"Where Do We Go Now?" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics took Nadine Labaki's Lebanese import "Where Do We Go Now" from 37 to 31 screens in its fifth weekend (13 of which were in Canada, where the film is being released by Mongrel Media). The result was a $39,379 gross, a steep 51% drop from last weekend. Its average was $1,270, and the film's North American cume now stands at a disappointing $322,153.s

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.

This article is related to: Box Office