The potential downside to having an extraordinary amount of buzz surrounding a film is the mammoth expectations that come with it. They are definitely imposed upon "Silver Linings Playbook," which opened this weekend -- after a last minute move by The Weinstein Company to push it up a week earlier -- in 16 theaters.
Weekend estimates gave the David O. Russell-directed film a strong $458,430 gross from its first weekend averaging $28,652. Not bad numbers, and the film is clearly the type that could benefit and grow from word of mouth as it expands. But it's nowhere near the numbers of some its Oscar hopeful predecessors.
The Weinstein Company have released two major Oscar hopefuls (and eventual best picture winners) in November the past two years, "The King's Speech" and "The Artist," both of which -- like "Silver Linings" -- were coming off hugely successful film festival runs. "Speech" averaged $88,863 in its first weekend, while "The Artist" averaged $51,220. Notably, each were just in 4 theaters, which surely boosted them relative to the 16 houses "Silver Linings" in screening in.
Perhaps a better comparison is a film that could be facing off with "Silver Linings" at the Oscars: "Lincoln." Last weekend, that film opened on 11 screens and averaged $85,846, roughly triple what "Silver Linings" averaged. It -- like "The Artist" and "The King's Speech" -- are extraordinarily high set bars for success, and its clearly way too early to judge the box office prospects of "Silver Linings" overall anyway. But so far it's off to a strong, but not quite spectacular, start.
The same could be said of "Anna Karenina," which Focus also released on 16 theaters this weekend. The film -- directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law -- came with much less expectations than "Silver Linings" thanks to fairly muted buzz since its North American debut at the Toronto Film Festival. It ended up grossing $315,395 for a very respectable $19,712 per-theater-average. Though notably its a smaller number than the $24,504 "Atonement," Wright's last teamup with Knightley averaged on 32 screens back in 2007.
Both "Silver Linings" and "Anna Karenina" likely were hurt by the rare plethora of quality options studios are offering in wide release. Save "Breaking Dawn, Part 2," the top six releases from the studios were all very well-reviewed films that likely appealed to specialty audiences very much: "Skyfall," "Lincoln," "Wreck-It-Ralph," "Flight" and "Argo."
Head to the next page for full rundown of all specialty films reporting estimates, ranked by per-theater-average.