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Specialty Box Office: ‘Joe’ and ‘Ruby’ Lead Debuts; ‘Beasts’ Crosses $4 Million

Specialty Box Office: 'Joe' and 'Ruby' Lead Debuts; 'Beasts' Crosses $4 Million

A diverse quartet of new indie releases made their way to theaters this weekend —  Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s “Ruby Sparks,” William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe” and Sundance docs “Searching For Sugar Man” and “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.” All posted respectable numbers alongside a slew of holdovers that continued to post strong numbers, most notably “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which expanded beyond 200 screens and crossed the $4 million mark.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“Killer Joe(Magnolia)
Despite its NC-17 rating, LD Entertainment saw a good start from its release of William Friedkin’s crime thriller “Killer Joe.” Starring Matthew McConaughey (who is having an incredible year) in the title role, the film took in $37,864 for a $12,621 per-theater-average. That’s the best average of any film in release save “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Ruby Sparks(Fox Searchlight)
Debuting on a more aggressive 13 screens was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s long-awaited follow up to “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Ruby Sparks.” Fox Searchlight released the film — which stars Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script) — on Wednesday to decent mid-week grosses (it took in $39,836 before Friday).  Over the weekend, “Sparks” managed $151,881, averaging $11,683 and taking its total to $191,717.

The film performed best in Los Angeles and New York where it was out-grossed only by ‘Dark Knight” in the Landmark LA, the Arclight Hollywood, and the Lincoln Square in New York. Fox Searchlight will add 20 new markets next week as well as increasing the total theatre count to between 65-70 theatres.

“Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics released Malik Bendjelloul’s doc “Searching For Sugar Man” on 3 screens this weekend. The film — which won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year — follows two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez. It took in $28,533 over the weekend, averaging $9,511.

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry(Sundance Selects)
Another documentary alum of the Sundance Film Festival, Alison Klayman’s “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” was released on 5 screens this weekend care of Sundance Selects and posted similar numbers to “Sugar Man.” The film —  which chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government — grossed $45,000 for a $9,000 per-theater-average. The film will open in the top 15 markets this coming weekend

For a report on holdover releases, including “The Queen of Versailles,” “The Imposter,” “Farewell My Queen,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “To Rome With Love” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“The Queen Of Versailles(Magnolia)
Magnolia expanded Lauren Greenfield’s much-discussed Sundance doc “The Queen of Versailles” from 3 to 23 screens this weekend to respectable results. The film — which won the best directing award at Sundance — jumped 169% in grosses to take in $138,000. That made for a $6,000 per-theater-average and a new total of $223,097.

“Queen” follows a couple building the second largest and most expensive single-family house in the America, and the crisis they’re going through as the US economy goes down. It will expand to approximately 25 more markets on August 3rd.

Shut Up And Play The Hits(Oscilloscope)
Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace’s LCD Soundsystem doc “Shut Up and Play The Hits” opened last week for a “one night only” screening on 160 screens across North America. The result was successful enough to expand the film’s release in a few markets.  This weekend “Hits” screened in 15 theaters, taking in $22,400 for a mild $1,493 average. However, its new total gross of $452,592 is pretty impressive considering its release strategy.

“The Imposter” (Indomina)
Indomina expanded acclaimed Sundance doc “The Imposter” from one to two screens in its third weekend.  The film — directed by Bart Layton — centers on a young Frenchman who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing for 3 years. Indomina saw a $13,526 gross from the film, averaging $6,763 per screen. Its total stands at $61,017.

“Farewell My Queen” (Cohen Media Group)
Benoît Jacquot’s “Farewell My Queen” — a look at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers during the final days of the French Revolution — went from 11 to 33 theaters in its third weekend care of Cohen Media Group. The result was quite strong as the film took in another $133,000 for a $4,030 per-theatre-average. The film’s total now stands at $370,000.

“2016 Obama’s America” (Rocky Mountain Pictures)
The anti-Barack Obama documentary “2016: Obama’s America” — written and directed by John Sullivan and “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” author Dinesh D’Souza — expanded from 4 to 6 screens in its third weekend (via Rocky Mountain Pictures, or the same folks that brought you “Atlas Shrugged, Part I” and “An Inconsistent Truth”). The result was a decent $36,572 gross, averaging $6,095. The film’s total now stands at $132,341.

“The Obama Effect” (ARC Entertainment)
Another Obama-themed film didn’t manage so well in its second weekend.  Arc Entertainment’s narrative film “The Obama Effect — directed and starring Charles S. Dutton — was released exclusively through AMC theaters two weekends ago, and dropped from 21 to 2 screens this weekend.  The film grossed just $2,000 as a result, averaging only $1,000. The film is a fictional account of the “Obama fever of 2008,” focusing on the life of one man (Dutton) who deals with the ups and downs of the campaign.

“Trishna” (Sundance Selects)
Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna” went from 16 to 37 screens in its third weekend through Sundance Selects. It took in $51,800 for a so-so $1,400 average. Starring Freida Pinto, the film follows the relationship between the son of a property developer and the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner. The film has now totalled $160,000.

“Easy Money” (The Weinstein Company)
The Weinstein Company expanded Swedish import “Easy Money” from 2 to 5 screens in its third weekend. Starring future “Robocop” Joel Kinnaman, the film took in $22,508 for a $4,502 average. The film’s total now stands at $84,112.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight)
Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” had a considerable expansion this weekend, going from 129 to 208 theaters in its fifth frame and crossed the $4 million mark in the process. The film took in a $914,000 gross over the weekend top place 13th on the overall chart, which also made for a strong $4,394 average. Its total now stands at $4,194,890 with a few more million likely en route.

“‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ had its best weekend since its release,” Fox Searchlight’s Frank Rodriquez, SVP Domestic Distribution, said. “The cumulative total now stands at $4,194,890. We have now passed such notable films as ‘Shame,’ ‘Vera Drake,’ ‘Requiem For a Dream,’ ‘Melinda and Melinda’ and ‘Like Crazy.’ Next week we will be in our national release, adding 12-14 new markets while playing this unique and inspiring film in between 250-300 theatres.”

“To Rome With Love” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics took Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” down to 492 screens from 552 in its sixth weekend. The result was a very respectable gross of $1,015,636 averaging $2,064.  The film’s total now stands at $12,925,478, and it should easily be heading for a gross north of $15 million.  While that’s not “Midnight in Paris” numbers, it would still make the third highest grossing specialty release of the year after “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” Its also now one of the top 13 grossing Woody Allen films, and his thrid best in the past decade after “Midnight in Paris” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus Features)
In its tenth weekend, Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” lost screens as it went from 895 to 853. lt still held on strong, dropping just 24% and taking in $1,387,359 (and placing in the overall top 10 yet again). Its $1,626 average helped the film find a new total of $38,593,858. It is the second highest grossing Anderson film, after 2001’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.” And at this rate, it should be set to easily pass the $40 million mark by next weekend — rivalling “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” as the highest grossing indie of 2012 so far.

“Take This Waltz” (Magnolia/Entertainment One)
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.”  In its fourth frame, the film expanded from 60 to 64 screens and took in $81,000 for a repsectable $1,266 average.

“Waltz” has grossed $978,280, and is notably also available on VOD.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” (Film District)
Film District’s Sundance Film Festival pickup “Safety Not Guaranteed” (starring Mark Duplass) jumped from 124 to 149 screens in its eighth weekend and saw a 4% jump in its grosses as a result. It took in $164,000, enough for a $1,101 average and an admirable new total of $3,194,267. Interestingly, this weekend saw Film District expand the film based on Facebook requests asking for the film to be released in their local theatres.
To respond to the requests, FilmDistrict launched a promotion with fans nationwide to answer their calls by releasing the film in six new cities and rewarding lucky fans with free tickets to the film’s screening in each location. The six cities were North Brunswick, NJ, Fairfield, CT, Farmington, NM, Hilton Head Island, SC, Las Vegas, NV and Tuscon, AZ.

“The Intouchables” (The Weinstein Company)
Finally, Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s “The Intouchables” expanded from 91 to 194 theaters for its tenth frame and held on very well. It jumped 63% in grosses to take in an estimated $512,000 averaging $2,639. That gave the film its best weekend yet despite over two months in release, and gave it a new total of $4,782,000. Including grosses from Canada, its North American total now stands at an impressive $7,768,568.

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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