By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 15, 2012 at 12:43PM
The overwhelming winner amidst a slew of specialty debuts this weekend was Neema Barnette's "Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th Day." According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, "Loosed" managed to find the best per-theater-average of any film in release, including studio chart topper "The Hunger Games."
Also of note this weekend was a respectable debut from Oscar-nominated foreign language film "Monsieur Lazhar" and impressive expansions care of "The Raid: Redemption" and "Bully" -- which headed to 158 screens across the country this weekend with a new PG-13 rating.
Check out the full rundown below:
"Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On The 7th Day" (CodeBlack Entertainment)
Following the massive success of last year's stand-up comedy doc "Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain," CodeBlack Entertainment has another hit on its hands with Neema Barnette's "Woman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th Day."
Starring Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal as a couple whose six-year-old daughter is kidnapped, the film was released on 102 screens and took in an excellent $650,319 -- averaging $6,376. That made for the highest per-theater-average of any playing on more than 100 screens, including studio offerings like "The Hunger Games" and "The Three Stooges."
"Monsieur Lazhar" (Music Box Films)
The last release among the Academy Award nominees for best foreign language film, Music Box Films released Quebec's "Monsieur Lazhar" on 19 screens (in New York, LA, San Francisco, Miami and Santa Fe) this weekend to respectable numbers. Grossing $119,890, the film, which follows an Algerian immigrant who takes over the elementary school classroom of a teacher who has committed suicide, averaged a solid $6,310.
Music Box will expand the film significantly in the coming weeks. "Lazhar" has already grossed over $3 million at the Canadian box office.
"Blue Like Jazz" (Roadside Attractions)
Steve Taylor's "Blue Like Jazz" -- which premiered at SXSW last month -- made its way to 136 theaters this weekend care of Roadside Attractions. Based on Donald Miller's book, the film follows a teenager trying to escape his Bible-Belt upbringing. It grossed $280,704 over the weekend, averaging $2,064.
"Hit So Hard" (Variance)
On a single New York screen, P. David Ebersole's doc about Hole drummer Patty Schemel grossed an unremarkable $6,500 in its debut weekend for Variance Films.
"Here" (Strand Releasing)
Braden King's Sundance 2011 alum "Here" also made a debut on a single New York screen, and fared slightly better than "Hit So Hard," taking in $8,500 for Strand Releasing.
"Life Happens" (PMK-BMC)
Kat Coiro's "Life Happens" -- starring Krysten Ritter and Kate Bosworth -- opened on 17 screens in 10 different markets this weekend, and managed a disappointing $21,890 gross, averaging just $1,368.
For a report on over a dozen holdover releases, including "Damsels in Distress" and "Bully," continue to the next page.
"Damsels in Distress" (Sony Pictures Classics)
The best per-theater-average among holdovers belonged to Whit Stillman's first film in almost 15 years, "Damsels in Distress." Expanding from 4 to 22 screens, Sony Pictures Classics saw the film take in $93,040, averaging a respectable $4,229. The film's total now stands at $178,263.
Stillman has only directed four films over the course of his 22-year career, the last being 1998's "The Last Days of Disco." In May of 1998, that film expanded from 22 to 44 screens and averaged $5,250, which tracks it considerably ahead of "Damsels." "Disco" eventually totaled $3 million, a number "Damsels" would need some very strong holding power in future expansion to achieve.
"We Have a Pope" (Sundance Selects)
Also in its second weekend was Sundance Selects' release of Nanni Moretti's "We Have a Pope." Expanding from 3 to 15 screens, the film took in $54,000 for a mild $3,600 average. The film -- which premiered in competition at last year's Cannes Film Festival -- has now taken in $104,000. It will expand to the top 25 markets next weekend.
"Bully" (The Weinstein Company)
With a new "PG-13" rating, Lee Hirsch's much-discussed doc "Bully" expanded from 6 to 158 screens in a pivotal weekend for its success. The result was very strong, with the film grossing $534,000 for a per-theater-average of $3,380. That brought the film's total to $813,202, with the $1 million mark a given by next weekend. It's now the second-highest grossing doc of 2012, behind surprise breakout "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (which has yet to report estimates for this weekend).
"The Raid: Redemption" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Also making an important expansion this weekend was Gareth Evans' much-anticipated Indonesian action flick "The Raid: Redemption." Released by Sony Pictures Classics after acclaimed festival screenings at Toronto and Sundance, the film expanded aggressively from 176 to 881 screens and jumped 91% in grosses, taking in $1,003,111 to place just outside the overall top 10. Its average of $1,139 wasn't spectacular, but it still helped give the reported $1.1 million-budgeted "The Raid" an impressive new total of $2,567,729 after 4 weekends in release.
"October Baby" (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Samuel Goldwyn saw Andrew and Jon Erwin's "October Baby" get a very healthy boost in its fourth frame after 2 weekends of steep drops. The film, about a college freshman who learns she is the "survivor of an attempted abortion," went from 339 to 362 screens and jumped an impressive 44%. That resulted in a $524,538 gross and a $1,449 average -- and a new total of $4,502,168. Notably, that's 4.5 times its $1 million budget.
"The Deep Blue Sea" (Music Box Films)
Also in its fourth weekend, Terence Davies' acclaimed Rachel Weisz-starrer went from 51 to 53 screens care of Music Box Films and found respectable numbers as a result. "The Deep Blue Sea" grossed $97,473, averaging $1,839 (essentially on par with last weekend). The film's total now stands at $648,554.
"Jeff Who Lives at Home" (Paramount Vantage)
In its fifth weekend, Mark & Jay Duplass' "Jeff Who Lives at Home" dropped from 447 to 183 screens and expectedly lost 49% of its grosses. Starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, the film took in $215,000 for a $1,175 average (a higher average than last weekend). Paramount Vantage-released "Jeff" has now totalled $3,825,644 and should finish its run just short of the $5 million mark -- a disappointment considering the folks involved.
"The Kid With a Bike" (Sundance Selects)
Another brotherly filmmaking duo, Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, had much better news with their "Kid With a Bike." Expanding from 54 to 70 screens in its fifth weekend care of Sundance Selects, the film grossed a strong $175,000 -- averaging $2,500 (which is impressively up from last weekend's $2,217). "Kid" has now grossed $765,009 and should hit the $1 million mark by the end of next weekend. The film has now surpassed the $651,941 that "L'Enfant" grossed back in 2006 to become the highest grossing film ever for the Dardenne brothers.
"Footnote" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Another strong import, Israel's submission to the Academy Award's foreign language category got a nice boost in its sixth weekend after expanding from 65 to 84 screens. Sony Classics saw Joseph Cedar's film jump 54% as a result, taking in $210,416 and averaging $2,505. Crossing the $1 million mark in the process, the film has now grossed $1,114,817.
"Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" (CBS Films)
Also crossing a milestone in its sixth weekend was Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen," which dropped from 524 to 435 screens but lost only 8% of its grosses. Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, the film grossed $911,000 -- a very stong number, and enough to take its total past the $6 million mark to $6,087,391. At this rate, "Salmon" should soon surpass "Friends With Kids" as the highest- grossing specialty film of 2012 so far. That film's gross stands at $6,985,514 as of the this weekend.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.