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Specialty Box Office: ‘Beasts’ Scores Huge Debut; ‘Rome,’ ‘Moonrise’ Expand Strongly

Specialty Box Office: 'Beasts' Scores Huge Debut; 'Rome,' 'Moonrise' Expand Strongly

While Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike” gave the studio box office a huge and unexpected boost, the specialty box office also soared thanks to a potent opening care of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and strong expansion numbers from “To Rome With Love” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”

“Beasts” had one of the best limited debuts of the year, averaging a huge $42,250. That’s the third best debut of the year behind “To Rome With Love” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” both of which expanded to very strong numbers themselves this weekend. It sets up all three films to benefit significantly from the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight)
After a hugely successful run on the festival circuit (where it won major awards at both Sundance and Cannes), Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” made its way to theaters this weekend with a huge $169,000 gross from just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. That made for a $42,250 average — the third best of the year. It’s also the sixth best average for a limited platform release from a first-time filmmaker, a very notable feat.

“It has been an incredible opening weekend for these first-time filmmakers when you consider that the actors are all non-professionals who have distinguished themselves both on screen and off,” said Fox Searchlight senior VP Distribution Frank Rodriguez.

Since opening last Wednesday, “Beasts” has totalled $220,447. The film will open in New Orleans on Wednesday July 4, with an additional 5 markets (Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas) slated to open on July 6, which will bring the total number of theatres to 19 by next Friday.

“Take This Waltz” (Magnolia/Entertainment One)
On Canada Day weekend, Magnolia (who has US distribution rights) and Entertainment One (who has Canadian rights) teamed up to release Canadian icon Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz” on 30 screens this weekend. Overall, the results were mild. The film took in $150,000 — averaging $5,000 per theater. But notably 28 of those theaters were in Canada, including numerous small markets. On its two American screens — both in New York — the film took in $26,000, averaging a much more respectable $13,000. The film will expand to LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, DC, Philadelphia and San Diego on July 6th.

“Neil Young Journeys” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Speaking of Canada, Sony Classics released another Canadian icon-centric film — Jonathan Demme’s doc “Neil Young Journeys” — in 3 theaters this weekend and saw a $13,280 gross as a result, averaging $4,427 per theater.

“Unforgivable” (Strand Releasing)
Strand Releasing opened André Téchiné’s French-language drama “Unforgivable” on 5 screens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. The result was a $29,886 gross, giving it a so-so average of $5,977.

For a rundown of holdover releases, including “To Rome With Love,” “Your Sister’s Sister,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Bernie,” continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“To Rome With Love” (Sony Pictures Classics)
After a massive limited debut last weekend, Sony Classics expanded Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” from 5 to 29 screens. The film grossed a huge $750,348 as a result, averaging $25,874. That’s only slightly behind the second weekend of last year’s “Midnight in Paris,” which averaged $33,268 from 58 screens.

Last year, “Midnight in Paris” grossed over $56 million after a late May debut, becoming the highest grossing film of Allen’s career. Whether “Rome” — which received much weaker reviews than “Paris” — can gross even half that (which alone would make it a considerable success) remains to be seen. But its definitely off to a great start.

Kumare (Kino Lorber)
2011 SXSW Audience Award winner “Kumare” had a second weekend on a sole screen at New York’s IFC Center.  The doc —  about a man who impersonates an Indian guru and builds a following in Arizona — grossed $6,000 over the weekend, taking its total to $34,965 (this also includes five screenings in Boulder, Colorado). The film will open July 27th in Los Angeles.

“Your Sister’s Sister” (IFC Films)
Lynn Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister,” expanded from 47 to 95 screens in its third weekend care of IFC Films. Starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass, the film grossed $228,000, averaging $2,400. That gave the film a new total of $683,000,  surpassing the $407,377 that Shelton’s last feature, “Humpday,” grossed in its entire run.

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus Features)
In its sixth weekend, Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” had its biggest expansion yet as it headed from 395 to 854 screens. lt held on exceptionally strong, jumping 44% in grosses. The Wes Anderson film took in $4,872,878, placing in the overall top 10 and averaging a healthy $5,706.

“‘Moonrise’ had another great weekend in a very competitive marketplace,” Focus said in a statement. “The 45% increase in box office from Friday to Saturday is a clear sign of the film’s appeal in new markets and of its holding power (many of the house that opened last weekend had less than a 20% drop). Another sign of strength is the film’s #8 market rank — it remains competitive with titles on many more screens.”

The film is playing well in both major markets and suburbs (NY, LA, San Francisco, etc); regional smart-market art houses and suburban theaters (Austin TX, Rochester, Syracuse, San Antonio); sophisticated smaller markets with core art/smart houses (Ashville, Tucson, Norfolk); and in many college towns (Columbus OH, Columbia MO, Madison WI, Providence RI, Louisville and Lexington KY, Ithaca, Hanover NH, Baton Rouge).

“These market trends reflect the film’s appeal to a broader audience as it expands, and is a good sign that word of mouth is still a powerful driver,” Focus said.

The film’s new total is $18,411,995. It has now toppped the $11.9 million that Anderson’s last live-action film, “The Darjeeling Limited,” grossed in 2007, and with the Fourth of July holiday likely to boost grosses across the board, it should easily pass $30 million in the next few weeks.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” (Film District)
Film District’s Sundance Film Festival pickup “Safety Not Guaranteed” expanded from 129 to 164 screens in its fourth weekend to repectable results. It took in $380,000– down 20% from last weekend but still enough for a $2,317 average and a new total of $1,684,745.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, the “Safety” stars Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass (who had roles in two of the three films with the best per-theater-averages this weekend).

“Peace, Love and Misunderstanding” (IFC Films)
Despite the presence of Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener, IFC Films didn’t get particularly good numbers out of the fourth weekend of “Peace, Love and Misunderstanding” (though it’s likely to be enjoying better results from its VOD release). The film dropped from 64 to 42 screens and managed a weak $29,4000 gross, averaging $700. Its total now stands at $508,203.

“The Intouchables” (The Weinstein Company)
Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s “The Intouchables” dropped from 74 to 68 theaters for its sixth frame, but held on very well despite that. It lost only 9% of its grosses and took in an estimated $316,000, averaging $4,637 (down only slightly from last weekend’s $4,811 average). That helped it cross the $2.5 million mark, giving it a new total of $2,582,666.

The film is already a massive hit overseas, taking in over $343 million, with $166 million in its native France alone.

“Bernie” (Millennium Entertainment)
Millennium Entertainment continued to find legs via Richard Linklater’s dark comedy “Bernie.” Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, the film managed strong numbers in its tenth weekend. Dropping from 220 to 166 screens, the film took in another $322,326. That made for a average of $1,941 and new total of $7,262,640. The film has tripled the combined gross of Linklater’s previous two films, “Me and Orson Welles” and “Fast Food Nation.”

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)
Finally, John Madden’s older-audience skewing “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” impressively moved beyond the $40 million mark in its ninth weekend of release. The film continued to also prove itself one of 2012’s true indie breakouts this weekend care of Fox Searchlight, dropping only 35% despite losing a huge chunk of its theaters.

On 534 screens (down from 741last weekend), the film — which stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson as a group of seniors retiring in India — grossed a fantastic $1,065,000 over the weekend. That gave it a $1,994 per-theater-average and a new total of $40,385,894.

The film is by far the highest-grossing indie of 2012 and a final gross close to $50 million is looking likely. It’s already grossed well over $125 million worldwide (more on that here).

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior 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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