Counter-programmed against the male-centric studio likes of "Man of Steel" and "This Is The End" (a trend this summer, with most of the specialty success stories being geared toward women while the studios continue to largely consider male audiences), "Bling" -- distributed by upstart A24 (which had a big success with the similarly themed "Spring Breakers" earlier this year) was a major improvement over Coppola's last film "Somewhere," which averaged $17,012 from 7 theaters back in 2010. And though their screen counts differ a bit too much to warrant a fair comparison, the film also topped the $40,221 "Lost In Translation" averaged from 23 locations in 2003 to find Coppola's best per-theater-average (though adjusted of inflation "Translation" would be the winner).
"We are thrilled with the results. Sofia Coppola's latest and greatest has certainly entered the zeitgeist and we look forward to capitalizing on this great success as we expand nationwide next weekend," A24's Nicolette Aizenberg said.
Perhaps appropriately overshadowed by celebrity-themed "The Bling Ring" was backup singer doc "20 Feet From Stardom," which also had a very strong debut.
The film -- which opened the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to a very strong response -- is the first theatrical-only release from RADiUS-TWC, and it got off to a nice start in that regard, particularly for a documentary (which tend to have longer staying power, especially crowdpleasing ones like "Stardom"). It took in $52,211 from 3 screens for a $17,404 average, a better debut number than recent breakout docs like "Searching For Sugar Man" (which averaged $9,153 from 3 screens in its debut weekend). Notably, the film sold out 4 showings yesterday at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York (on the second anniversary of the opening of the film center).
"Stardom" tells the "untold true stories of backup singers behind some of the greatest music over the last 50 years." RADiUS-TWC will roll it out into the top 50 markets over the next several weeks.
As for holdovers, there were many notable expansions this weekend. Joss Whedon's Roadside Attractions release "Much Ado About Nothing" expanded from 5 to 23 theaters in its second frame (mostly suburban theatres within the original 3 markets of New York, LA and SF, plus a screen in new market Toronto). The Shakespeare adaptation grossed $162,580 for the weekend, for a $7,068 average. The film has now totaled $389,612 heading into a national expansion on June 21st.
Fox Searchlight's "The East" neared the $1 million mark as it expanded from 41 to 115 theaters in week three, grossing $285,000 for a $2,478 average. The Zal Batmanglij-directed film has now taken in $706,305, almost doubling the final gross of his previous film (which like "The East," was co-written and starred Brit Marling), "Sound of My Voice."
Finally, the biggest expansion of the weekend was definitely care of Sony Pictures Classics and "Before Midnight." In its fourth weekend, the intensely acclaimed third film in Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke's "Before" series went from 52 to 897 theaters, jumping 190% in grosses as it took in $1,525,912 for a $1,701 gross. Its a much wider screen count than any of the "Before" films ever experienced, with the widest 2004's "Before Sunset" ever went being 204 screens (where it averaged $2,251), while 1995's "Before Sunrise" peaked at 474 screens (where it averaged $1,625). "Before Midnight' has now grossed $3,198,000 and should soon over-take the $5.5 million and $5.8 million the first two films grossed to become the highest grossing film in the trilogy.
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for reporting debuts and holdovers.