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Specialty Box Office: ‘Perks’ Pops With Huge Debut; ‘The Master’ Strong In Expansion

Specialty Box Office: 'Perks' Pops With Huge Debut; 'The Master' Strong In Expansion

While the overall box office continued a slump thanks to underwhelming debuts from “Trouble With The Curve” and “Dredd 3D,” the specialty box office had a very hopeful debut care of teen drama “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which had the fifth best limited debut of the year. It led a slew of debuts this weekend, which also included very strong numbers care of doc “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel.”

Of course, the year’s best debut remains Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” which expanded from 5 to 788 screens in its second weekend to very strong numbers. But the question remains whether its early release date will hinder the possibility of taking in “There Will Be Blood”-style numbers in the end.

Full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower(Summit)
Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — adapted from Chboksy’s own 1999 novel — got off to an excellent start this weekend.

Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as a trio of teenage misfits in 1990s Pittsburgh, Summit Entertainment released the film on 4 screens. The result was a stellar $244,000 gross, which made for a $61,000 per-theater-average. That’s the fifth best limited debut of 2012 (behind “The Master,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “To Rome With Love” and “Sleepwalk With Me”), and one of the 50 best limited debuts of all time. It’s also the highest per-theater-average for any film released by Summit.

Summit’s exit data notably suggested 60% of the film’s audience was under the age of 25, and 70% were female. Summit plans to expand the film significantly next weekend.

READ MORE: Ezra Miller On His New Role, Queer Representation in Cinema and the ‘Perks’ of Being Honest About Your Sexuality

“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel” (Samuel Goldwyn/EPIX)
Also opening very strongly was Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s doc “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel,” which looks at the life and work of the influential fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland.

The film opened in New York and Los Angeles in 3 theaters and earned a very strong $64,238, or $21,413 per location. The film will expand into theaters in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC and Boston on September 28th.

“How To Survive a Plague” (Sundance Selects)
Another doc opening this weekend David France’s intensely acclaimed look at AIDS activism on New York, “How To Survive a Plague.” On four screens in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, the film took in $28,000 for a $7,000 average. The film will expand to the top 10 markets next weekend.

“My Uncle Rafael” (Rocky Mountain Pictures)
Rocky Mountain Pictures released Marc Fusco’s “My Uncle Rafael” — about a desperate TV producer who convinces an old Armenian Uncle to star in a new reality show — on 14 screens this weekend. The film managed a very respectable $100,210 gross as a result, averaging $7,158.

“Occupy Unmasked” (Magnolia/Magnet)
Stephen K. Bannon’s “Occupy Unmasked” — which looks at the anarchist roots of the Occupy movement — was released on 4 screens this weekend in the generally conservative markets of Phoenix, Dallas, Denver and Orange County CA. It took in $44,000, averaging $11,000.

“The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best” (Oscilloscope)
Oscilloscope Laboratories released Ryan O’Nan’s “The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best” — about a ainger-songwriter who hits the road with a self-appointed music revolutionary — on 2 screens this weekend. The result was a $6,537 gross and a weak $3,269 per-theater-average.

For news on holdover releases, including “The Master,” “Arbitrage,” “Detropia,” “For a Good Time, Call…” “Sleepwalk With Me,” “Samsara,” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“The Master(The Weinstein Company)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s veiled take on Scientology — which stars  Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams — expanded from 5 to 788 theaters in its second weekend, hoping to make good on the huge potential that came with its stunning $147,262 first weekend per-theater-average (a record).

READ MORE: ‘The Master’ Shatters Per-Theater-Average Record; ‘Arbitrage’ Also Very Strong

The result was pretty good. Jumping 579% in grosses, “The Master” took in $5,000,000 to land in 7th place in the overall top 10 (just behind the opening weekend of “Dredd,” which was on nearly 3 times the screens). Its $6,345 was by far the best in the overal top 10 and the best of any holdover.

By comparison, “There Will Be Blood” — Anderson’s top grossing movie ever with $40.2 million — expanded to 885 screens in its fifth weekend and grossed a similar $4,869,383, averaging $5,502. Though that film benefited from the fact that  “Blood” was nominated for 8 Academy Awards a few days beforehand.

“The Master” has now totalled $6,055,883. But the question remains whether opening this early in the season will end up being problematic for the film. Making it to the $40 million “Blood” took in will be tough without having the boost of December/January awards announcements. How it holds in the next few weekends will be telling, as another issue is that The Weinstein Company expanded it so aggressively, so quickly (“Blood” waited five weeks to go that wide). It could very well be that the film’s best weekend is this one.

“Arbitrage” (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Also scoring good numbers in its second weekned was “Arbitrage,” which was coming off the biggest opening ever for a film opening in both movie theaters and On Demand. Going from 197 to 244 screens across North America, the film — which stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon — grossed $1,283,900 for a $5,211 average, notably jumping 78% from Friday to Saturday (though also notably dropping .

The film’s total now stands at $3,952,407.

“Liberal Arts” (IFC Films)
Also in its second weekend was Josh Radnor’s “Liberal Arts,” which stars Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen. In 20 locations (up from 4 last weekend), the Sundance pickup managed a $40,000 averaging $2,000 per theater. Its total now stands at $78,000 as the film heads into a top 25 market expansion next weekend.

“Detropia(Loki Films Release)
“Detropia” — a doc directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady — expanded from 5 to 11 screens in its third weekend.

The film — self-released by Ewing and Grady — grossed $37,200 over the weekend, which included sold-out shows from new locations in Chicago and Boston. That made for a $3,382 average and a new total of $131,415

The film will open exclusive engagements in the SF Bay area next weekend before opening Los Angeles on October 5, with the balance of the top 25 opening throughout October and early November.

READ MORE: ‘Detropia’ Filmmakers Explain DIY Distribution and How the Sundance Institute Artist Services Program Works

Hello I Must Be Going(Oscilloscope)
Todd Louiso’s “Hello I Must Be Going” — starring Melanie Lynskey in an acclaimed performance as a divorced and depressed woman — held went from 2 to 15 screens in its third weekend care of Oscilloscope. It took in $22,937 as a result, jumping 168% as it averaged a weak $1,529. Its total stands at $67,314.

“Keep The Lights On(Music Box Films)
Also in its third weekend was gay relationship drama “Keep The Lights On.” On 8 screens (up from 5), the film grossed $22,561 for a $2,820 average. Its total now stands at $149,802 ahead of expansion in the coming weeks.

“For a Good Time, Call…(Focus Features)
Jamie Travis’ comedy “For a Good Time” — starring Lauren Miller (who also co-wrote) and Ari Graynor — dropped slightly from 107 to 105 screens in its fourth weekend care of Focus Features.  Dropping 45%, it took in $147,644 over the weekend, averaging $1,406. That helped the film cross the $1 million mark with a new total of $1,084,718.

“Sleepwalk With Me(IFC Films)
Mike Birbiglia’s semi-autiobiographical “Sleepwalk With Me” continued to find success in its fifth frame. Expanding from 118 to 135 theaters, the film scored a $297,000 gross, giving it a $2,200 per-theater-average and a new total of $1,697,000. That tops “Your Sister’s Sister” as the distributor’s highest grossing film so far in 2012, and its best since “Pina,” which came out last Christmas.

Also managing fantastic fifth weekend numbers this weekend was “Samsara,” the non-narrative film created by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson. The film is a sort of sequel or continuation of the acclaimed 1993 film “Baraka,” which also was directed by Fricke and produced by Magidson. “Samsara” was shot in about 100 locations in 25 countries and took four years to make. As described on the film’s website, it “explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, ‘Samsara’ takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation.”  

While that synopsis definitely doesn’t scream “blockbuster,” it has clearly appealed to many folks. Going from 62 to 59 screens, “Samsara” lost just 18% to gross $197,821 and average $3,353. The film’s total now stands at $1,155,761. Back in 1993, “Baraka” grossed $1,254,237.

Robot and Frank(IDP / Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Also in its fifth frame was Sundance Film Festival alum “Robot and Frank,” whihc dropped from 209 to 156 screens. Grossing $198,120 over the weekend, the film averaged $1,270.

Starring Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon, the comedy follows an aging ex-convict (Langella), whose children hire a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to care for him. The film’s total now stands at an impressive $2,909,956.

“Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Malik Bendjelloul’s doc “Searching For Sugar Man” from 34 to 38 screens in its ninth 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 $100,868 over the weekend, jumping 1% and averaging a strong $2,654. Its total now stands at $1,193,669.

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus Features)
Finally, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” crossed the $45 million mark in its whopping 18th weekend. On 120 screens, the film took in $128,961 to average $1,075. For a film to average over $1,000 for 18 consecutive weekends is a remarkable feat. “Moonrise” has now grossed $45,162,705. That’s just under the $46,221,676 that “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — the year’s top grossing specialty release — has taken in so far.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Editor and box office analyst. 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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