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Box Office: A Strong Debut for Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” but Werner Herzog’s “Abyss” Is No “Cave”

Box Office: A Strong Debut for Lars von Trier's "Melancholia," but Werner Herzog's "Abyss" Is No "Cave"

Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” debuted on 19 screens this weekend care of Magnolia Pictures, and the results were not so melancholic. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, “Melancholia” grossed a respectable $270,000, averaging $14,210.

That’s a much better debut that von Trier’s “Antichrist,” which debuted two years ago to a $11,900 per-theater-average. And that was on a much less aggressive 6 screens. In the end, “Antichrist” would go on to gross $404,122, a number “Melancholia” should easily exceed by next weekend. The film has also already grossed more than 5 times the final gross of von Trier’s 2006 film “Manderlay.”

It’s also impressive considering that “Melancholia” has been available via VOD for the last two weeks — although, of course, those revenue figures are unavailable.

Also opening this weekend was Werner Herzog’s death-row doc “Into The Abyss.” Sundance Selects released the film on 12 screens with a $50,784 gross for a disappointing $4,232 average. This is Sundance Selects’ second Herzog release this year after the hugely successful “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” which debuted to an average of $27,820 on 5 screens back in April. Notably, “Cave” was a much more marketable entity than “Abyss.”

Among holdovers, Drake Doremus’s “Like Crazy” aggressively expanded from 16 to 70 screens in its third weekend and held up very well.  The Sundance pickup, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival, grossed $525,000 for distributor Paramount Vantage. That’s a 97% uptick from last weekend, leaving “Crazy” with a $7,500 per-theater-average and a new total of $1,076,266.

Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene” – a fellow Sundance alum – expanded from 98 to 183 screens in its fourth weekend and managed a less compellling 8% rise in grosses. The drama, which stars Elizabeth Olsen as a woman emerging from a abusive cult, grossed $490,000.  Its $2,678 per-theater-average is respectable considering its screen count but likely disappointing for distributor Fox Searchlight. Its total now stands at $1,690,046.

Roadside Attractions continued to find excellent news from JC Chandor’s Wall Street-set “Margin Call.” The expanded from 178 to 198 screens in its fourth weekend and took in $595,000. That made for a $3,005 average and a new total of $3,361,683.  The film is clearly turning into quite the success story, partially thanks to timing that couldn’t have been more appropriate given the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Other holdovers included Vincent Morisset’s Sigur Ros concert film “Inni.” Released by Cinema Purgatorio, the film grossed $18,000 on 8 screens (up from 5 last weekend), averaging $2,250.  The film’s total now stands at $75,154.

Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” expanded from 78 to 91 screens in its fifth weekend and saw a $312,289 gross, averaging $3,432. The Sony Pictures Classics-released film saw its total climb to $1,711,715 as a result. Almodovar’s last film, “Broken Embraces,” ended up with a $5,014,305 final gross.  That may be out of reach for “Skin,” though it is not benefiting from the marketable presence of Penelope Cruz.

Another SPC release – Jeff Nichols’ critically acclaimed “Take Shelter” – dropped 8 venues to 82 screens in its seventh weekend and saw a 24% drop in grosses. “Shelter,” starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, grossed $134,383 for a $1,639 average. The film’s total is now $1,234,865.

Finally, Emilio Estevez “The Way,” starring his father Martin Sheen, was on an impressive 171 screens this weekend (down from 224) via a unique partnership between Estevez, Elixir Films, Producers Distribution Agency and ARC Entertainment. The result was a $334,379 gross and a $1,955 average – the average up from last weekend. The film’s total now stands at an impressive $2,633,334.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE Associate 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..

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