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Specialty Box Office: ‘Celeste and Jesse’ Scores Big Debut; ‘Moonrise’ Tops $40 Million

Specialty Box Office: 'Celeste and Jesse' Scores Big Debut; 'Moonrise' Tops $40 Million

Sony Pictures Classics could have a late-summer hit on its hands with Lee Toland Krieger’s “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” which scored a very strong debut in limited release. Its $28,003 per-theater-average blew away the much less impressive debuts of Millennium Entertainment’s “The Babymakers” and Magnolia’s “360.”

Notably, the weekend also saw Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” top the $40 million mark, inching toward replacing “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” as the highest grossing specialty release of 2012.

Check out the full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“Celeste and Jesse Forever(Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics’ Sundance pickup “Celeste and Jesse Forever” was released on 4 screens this weekend to one of the year’s best limited debuts. The film — written by real-life best friends Rashida Jones (who also stars) and Will McCormack — grossed $112,011, averaging $28,003. That gave it the fifth best average of the year, behind “Moonrise Kingdom,” “To Rome With Love,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Bernie” — all of which are not bad company to be associated with.

“Celeste and Jesse” stars Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts and Ari Graynor. It follows a separated couple (Jones and Samberg) who try and remain best friends after breaking up. Sony Classics will expand the film significantly through August.

360(Magnolia Pictures)
Led by an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Rachel Weisz, and Jude Law, Fernando Meirelles’s “360” debuted on 2 screens care of Magnolia Pictures this weekend.  The result was an unimpressive $12,600 gross, averaging $6,300.

“The Babymakers (Millennium Entertainment)
Broken Lizard comedy “The Babymakers” fared even worse than “360,” grossing just $5,783 from 10 screens this weekend.  Starring Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn and Kevin Heffernan, the film debuted at SXSW earlier this year. Its gross amounted to an average of just $578.

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

The Holdovers:

“Killer Joe(LD Entertainment)
Despite its NC-17 rating, LD Entertainment continued to see very good numbers 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 expanded from 3 to 14 theaters in its second weekend and saw its per-theater-average barely drop.  It took in $163,053 over the weekend for a $11,647 average. Its total now stands at $220,282. The film will continue to expand through August. 

Ruby Sparks(Fox Searchlight)
Also in its second weekend was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s long-awaited follow up to “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Ruby Sparks.” Fox Searchlight took the film — which stars Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script) — from 13 to 64 theaters. The result saw “Sparks” take in $400,115 — jumping 184% for a $6,252 average. While the film is tracking significantly behind the likes of “Sunshine” (which averaged $25,520 from 58 screens in its second weekend), it has still totalled a reasonable $642,885.  Fox Searchlight will add approximately 200 theatres in 35-40 new markets next week.

“Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Malik Bendjelloul’s doc “Searching For Sugar Man” from 3 to 7 screens in its second 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 $38,498 over the weekend, jumping 40% and averaging $5,500. Its total now stands at $81,848.

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry(Sundance Selects)
Another documentary alum of the Sundance Film Festival, Alison Klayman’s “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” went from 5 ro 26 screens this weekend care of Sundance Selects.  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 $65,000 for a $2,500 per-theater-average. The film’s cume is now $131,000.

“The Queen Of Versailles(Magnolia)
Magnolia expanded yet another Sundance doc, Lauren Greenfield’s much-discussed “The Queen of Versailles,” from 23 to 68 screens in its third weekend to very strong results. The film — which won the best directing award at Sundance — jumped 103% in grosses to take in $276,589. That made for a $4,067 per-theater-average and a new total of $563,478.

“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 seems likely the film will cross the $1 million mark.

“The Imposter” (Indomina)
Indomina expanded acclaimed Sundance doc “The Imposter” from 2 to 7 screens in its fourth 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 $33,320 gross from the film, averaging $4,760 per screen. Its total stands at $102,308.

“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 33 to 56 theaters in its fourth weekend care of Cohen Media Group. The result was quite strong as the film took in another $185,991 for a $3,321 per-theatre-average. The film’s total now stands at $621,956.

“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 6 to 10 screens in its fourth weekend (via Rocky Mountain Pictures, or the same folks that brought you “Atlas Shrugged, Part I” and “An Inconsistent Truth”). The result was a  18% drop in grosses, taking in $32,329 and averaging $3,233. The film’s total now stands at $190,952.

“Trishna” (Sundance Selects)
Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna” dropped from 37 to 25 screens in its third weekend through Sundance Selects. It took in $25,000 for a $1,000 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 $210,000.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight)
Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild” had a considerable expansion this weekend, going from 208 to 318 theaters in its sixth frame and inched toward the $6 million mark in the process. The film took in a $1,175,000 gross over the weekend top place 12th on the overall chart (its best showing yet), which also made for a strong $3,695 average. Its total now stands at $5,903,792 with a few more million likely en route. The film has now topped the grosses of recent Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Like Crazy” and should easily top “Winter’s Bone” in the next week or so.

“To Rome With Love” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Classics took Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” down to 382 screens from 492 in its seventh weekend. The result was a very respectable gross of $811,301, averaging $2,124 (a higher per-theater-average than last weekend).  The film’s total now stands at $14,291,718, and it should easily be heading for a gross close to $20 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 10 grossing Woody Allen films, and his thrid best in the past decade after “Midnight in Paris” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

“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” and saw it cross the $1 million mark this week.  In its sixth frame, the film dropped from 64 to 45 screens and took in $48,000 for a repsectable $1,067 average.

“Waltz” has grossed $1,076,876, 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) dropped from 149 to 121 screens in its ninth weekend and saw just a 8% drop in its grosses as a result despite the screen loss. It took in $155,000, enough for a $1,281 average and an admirable new total of $3,458,553.

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus Features)
Finally, in its eleventh weekend, Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” became the second indie after “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” to cross the $40 million mark this year.  It lost screens as it went from 853 to 687 but only dropped 14% as a result.  It took in another $1,231,690, averaging $1,793. That took its total to $40,771,004.  “Moonrise Kingdom” 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 $45 million mark — rivalling “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” as the highest grossing indie of 2012 so far (that film’s total now stans at $45,003,571).

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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