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Specialty Box Office: 'Sleepwalk,' 'Samsara' Among Year's Best Indie Debuts; 'Obama's America' Soars To Overall Top 10

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 26, 2012 at 12:54PM

It was an unexpectedly potent late summer weekend at the specialty box office, with two openers -- "Sleepwalk With Me" and "Samsara" -- scoring among the best limited debuts of the year and anti-Obama doc "2016: Obama's America" soaring into the overall top 10 to become the highest grossing conservative documentary ever. "Sleepwalk With Me" -- directed by Mike Birbiglia and released by IFC Films -- broke some records of its own. On a single screen at New York's IFC Center (and helped by personal appearances by Ira Glass, who co-wrote the film), it broke the IFC Center's house record and found the third best per-theater-average of the year so far, behind art house sensations "Moonrise Kingdom" and "To Rome With Love."
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"2016 Obama's America"
"2016 Obama's America"
The Holdovers:

"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 -- had its best weekend yet as it expanded from 169 to 1,091 screens and managed an overall top-10 finish despite playing on fewer than half the screens of every other film to place there.

Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures (the same folks that brought you "Atlas Shrugged, Part I" and "An Inconsistent Truth"), the film jumped 401% in grosses as it took in $6,237,517. Its impressive $5,717 average (by far the best in the overall top 10) helped take its total to $9,075,393. That tops "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (also released by Rocky Mountain) to become the highest-grossing conservative documentary ever, and among the top 20 highest-grossing documenatries of all time (ahead of, among others, "Hoop Dreams," "Roger & Me" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams").

The film aims to show how the future of the United States might unfold should Barack Obama be elected to a second term as president.

READ MORE: Why the Success of Anti-Obama Doc "2016" Doesn't Mean Anything for the Presidential Election

"Cosmopolis" (Entertainment One)
David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" -- coming off a considerable amount of press thanks to its star Robert Pattinson's tattered love life -- expanded from 3 to 63 screens this weekend to disappointing numbers. Grossing $153,420, the film averaged just $2,435 per theater (down from $24,109 last weekend).

The film's total now stands at $447,240, which includes the film's numbers from a release in Cronenberg's native Canada earlier this year. Even with the Canadian numbers included, the $1 million mark is about the only milestone "Cosmopolis" can hope to make, even with the attention Pattinson has brought to the film.

"Robot and Frank" (IDP / Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Fairing much better in its second frame was Sundance Film Festival alum "Robot and Frank," which went from 2 to 46 screens and jumped 719%. Grossing $290,950, the film averaged a strong $6,325.

Starring Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon, the comedy follows an aging ex-convict (Langella), whose children hire a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to care for him. The film's total now stands at $342,259. Further expansion to the top 40 markets are slated for Labor Day weekend.

"Compliance" (Magnolia)
Also in its second weekend was Craig Zobel's acclaimed thriller "Compliance." Expanding from 1 to 10 screens, it took in $48,000 for a $4,800 per-theater average. Respectable numbers, but still something of a dissapointment considering the attention the film has gotten, largely due to its plot. Inspired by true events, the film focuses on a prank caller who pretends to be a police officer and convinces the manager of a fast food restaurant that one of her employees has committed a crime. Its total now stands at $73,344. Unlike the majority of Magnolia-released films, it is not being released on VOD alongside its theatrical release.

READ MORE: FUTURES: 'Compliance' Star Dreama Walker on the Controversial Film: 'I felt a tremendous desire to be a part of the whole discussion'

"Chicken With Plums" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Chicken With Plums" -- Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's follow-up to "Persepolis" -- held steady on two screens in its second weekend to underwhelming numbers. Taking in $6,745, the film averaged $3,373. Including its grosses from a release in Canada earlier this year, the film has a North American total of $85,713.

"The Awakening" (Cohen Media Group)
British horror film "The Awakening" dropped from an aggressive 70 screen debut this weekend to 31 screens care of Cohen Media Group. The film -- directed by Nick Murphy and starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton -- grossed a weak $19,973 as a result, for a per-theater average of just $644. Its total stands at $152,670.

"2 Days in New York" (Magnolia Pictures)
Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" expanded from 14 to 40 screens in its third weekend care of Magnolia Pictures (which also is releasing the film on VOD). The result was a $102,000 gross and a $2,550 average, helping take the film's total to $290,674.

A sort-of-sequel to "2 Days in Paris," the film stars Delpy and Chris Rock. The film's numbers so far pale in comparison to "Paris." That film ended up totalling $4,433,994, a number it will be tough for "New York" to come close to.

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics' Sundance pickup "Celeste and Jesse Forever" expanded from 67 to 115 screens in its fourth weekend. The film -- written by real-life best friends Rashida Jones (who also stars) and Will McCormack -- grossed $300,611, averaging $2,614. That  brought the film's total to $1,041,207 ahead of further expansion.

"Celeste and Jesse" stars Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts and Ari Graynor. It follows a married couple (Jones and Samberg) who try and remain best friends after breaking up.

READ MORE: Rashida and Will Forever: Screenwriting Duo Invents Words, Talks Sundance's 'Celeste and Jesse'

"Killer Joe"
Lionsgate "Killer Joe"
"Killer Joe" (LD Entertainment)
LD Entertainment continued to see very good numbers from its release of William Friedkin's crime thriller "Killer Joe," despite its NC-17 rating. Starring Matthew McConaughey (who is having an incredible year between this, "Magic Mike" and as-yet-unreleased Cannes titles "Mud" and "The Paperboy") in the title role, the film expanded from 42 to 50 theaters in its fifth weekend and held on strong, jumping 32% from last weekend. It took in $198,719 for a $3,312 average. Its total now stands at $936,821. The film will continue to expand through August, and it will soon become one of just 14 NC-17 rated films to cross the $1 million mark.

"Ruby Sparks" (Fox Searchlight)
Also in its fifth weekend was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's long-awaited follow up to "Little Miss Sunshine," "Ruby Sparks." Fox Searchlight saw the film -- which stars Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script) -- drop from 218 to 135 theaters. The result saw "Sparks" drop 44%, taking in $168,000 for an unimpressive $1,244 average. The film has totalled $2,109,846 so far.

"Searching For Sugar Man" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Malik Bendjelloul's doc "Searching For Sugar Man" from 27 to 29 screens in its fifth weekend. The film -- which won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year (and, as you see below, is one of three Sundance docs in current release and doing quite well) -- follows two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock'n'roller Rodriguez. It took in $128,833 over the weekend, jumping 21% and averaging $4,425 (impressively an increase in average from last weekend). Its total now stands at $502,275.

"The Queen Of Versailles" (Magnolia)
Magnolia saw yet another Sundance doc, Lauren Greenfield's much-discussed "The Queen of Versailles," jump from 77 to 85 screens in its sixth weekend to strong results. The film -- which won the best directing award at Sundance -- took in another $192,000 (down just 8%) as it averaged $2,259 per theater. That made for a new total of $1,539,193 and it looks likely to hit the $2 million mark in the coming weeks.

"Queen" follows a couple building the second-largest and most-expensive single-family house in America and the crisis they're going through as the U.S. economy goes down. It's definitely becoming one of summer 2012's rare documentary breakouts.

READ MORE: 'The Queen of Versailles' Director Lauren Greenfield Explains Why Two Billionaires Let Her Into Their Mansion

"The Imposter" (Indomina)
Indomina expanded acclaimed doc "The Imposter" (which, yes, debuted at Sundance) from 19 to 24 screens in its seventh weekend. 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 an $86,486 gross from the film, averaging $4,604 per screen. The film's total stands at $391,610.

"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 60 to 64 theaters in its seventh weekend. The result was respectable as the film took in another $101,376 for a $1,574 per-theatre average. That helped push the film past the $1 million mark as its total now stands at $1,111,138.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight)
Benh Zeitlin's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild" saw its grosses decline slightly in its ninth weekend as it lost 24 screens (it went from 236 to 212). The film dropped 18% as it took in $460,000 to push past the $8.5 million mark. Averaging $2,170, the film's total now stands at $8,856,593, with the $10-million mark a sure thing in the coming weeks. The film has now impressively topped the grosses of recent Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners "Like Crazy" and "Winter's Bone."

"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features)
In its whopping 14th weekend, Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" continued to prove itself one of the summer's biggest indie hits. It added screens as it went from 282 to 332 and dropped just 17% as a result. It still took in another $418,514, averaging $1,261 (for a film to have 14 straight weeks of $1,000+ averages is a feat in itself). That took its total to $43,688,282. "Moonrise Kingdom" is the second-highest-grossing Anderson film, after 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums." And at this rate, it should be set to pass the $45 million mark -- rivalling "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" as the highest-grossing indie of 2012 so far (that film's total now stands at $45,751,024).

"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
Finally, Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano's "The Intouchables" also held on in its 14th weekend, holding steady in 194 theaters. It dropped only 1.3% in its grosses with an estimated $362,000, averaging $1,866 (which, like "Moonrise," gives it 14 straight weekends with averages north of $1,000). That helped it cross the $10 million mark, taking its total to $10,457,000. It is by far the highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2012, and it's among only 24 foreign-language films to cross that mark in the United States. Its worldwide total now stands at a staggering $365,516,346.

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, Box Office





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