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by Peter Knegt
July 8, 2013 10:44 AM
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Specialty Box Office: 'Way, Way Back' Scores Strong Debut; 'Midnight' Tops 'Sunrise' and 'Sunset'

'The Way Way Back'

Fox Searchlight's big Sundance buy is so far looking like a smart move: "The Way, Way Back" -- which the distributor bought for $10 million at this year's festival - debuted in 19 theaters this weekend to very strong $525,000 gross.  That made for a $30,263 average and suggested promising things for the film's future.

Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who won the screenwriting Academy Award for their adaptation of 'The Descendants'), the films tells the story of an introverted young teen named Duncan (Liam James) and his coming of age while on vacation in a northeastern coastal town. It also stars Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Toni Colette, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and AnnaSophia Robb.
"We are pleased with the opening numbers for the film and it appears that we may be appealing to a wide spectrum of moviegoers," Frank Rodriguez, SVP Fox Searchlight Distribution, said.  "Attendance in general is up in theatres and a heartfelt film like 'The Way Way Back' can only help bring more filmgoers to the movies. This is a film that will have you laughing but could also make you shed a tear or two, and there is no doubt that you will appreciate the fine acting by this ensemble, and the great writing by Nat and Jim."
The film will expand into 13 additional markets next weekend, adding around 75 more theatres as Searchlight move towards the national release on July 26.

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in "Before Midnight"

Meanwhile, two holdover releases scored major milestones. Sony Classics' saw their "Before Midnight" hold very nicely in its seventh weekend, losing just 19% of its gross despite dropping 76 screens to 214. It took in another $513,141 to take its total to $6,611,165. The third film in Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke's "Before" series, it is now also the highest grossing. Both "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" stopped just short of the $6 million mark. "Midnight" should easily top $8 million.

In its fourth weekend, RADiUS-TWC's "20 Feet From Stardom" became the distributor's first $1 million hit (and only the third documentary to cross that mark so far this year). Expanding from 44 to 89 screens, Morgan Neville's film shot up 120%, impressively seeing its per-theater-average rise from $5,280 to $5,735 even though it doubled its count (a very rare feat). The film's total stands at

"'20 Feet From Stardom' set off its own fireworks this holiday weekend as it raced past the 1 million dollar milestone," RADiUS said in a statement. "Continuing to play to many sold out shows across the country in its expansion, the film is on pace to become the highest grossing documentary of 2013."

Continue to the next page for a list of all reporting grosses as they come in.