After a slow start to the 2014 specialty box office, leave it to Wes Anderson to turn things around in a grand fashion. His "Grand Budapest Hotel" opened in 4 theaters yesterday via Fox Searchlight this weekend, breaking the live action average record of another Anderson in the process (Paul Thomas, if you couldn't guess).
"Grand Budapest" -- which stars Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody and Jude Law, among many others -- was estimated to gross a stunning $800,000, which made for a $200,000 per-theater-average. That was the first live action specialty release to ever average $200,000 -- more than enough to top the $147,262 that "The Master" averaged in 2012.
"The Master," oddly enough, beat the record set by Wes Anderson's previous film "Moonrise Kingdom." A few months earlier, that film averaged $130,749 from 4 theaters. Which means Wes now has 2 of the top 3 limited live action debuts of all time.
"We knew the opening would be very good, but this performance is really above anyone’s expectations," Fox Searchlight's Head of Distribution Frank Rodriguez said. "[Wes Anderson] has an army of followers who have obviously been waiting for his next film since 'Moonrise Kingdom.' They came out in droves over the weekend causing sell-outs and extra shows to be added. It was a tremendous weekend for the filmmakers and for everyone at Fox Searchlight."
Searchlight will add 17 new markets this coming weekend as well as expanding in NY and LA bringing the total theater count to somewhere between 65-75 theaters.
This was just the icing on a serious cake for Fox Searchlight -- notably celebrating its 20th anniversary this year -- as of late. Last weekend, their "12 Years a Slave" won best picture at the Oscars, and as a result the film jumped back into the overall top 10 this weekend. Expanding it back to 1,065 theaters, Searchlight saw "12 Years" gross another $2,175,000 -- its best weekend since back in November. The film has now totaled $53,107,035, making it the 7th highest grossing Fox Searchlight film ever.