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Specialty Box Office: ‘Loneliest Planet’ Leads Newcomers; ‘Sessions’ Holds Nicely

Specialty Box Office: 'Loneliest Planet' Leads Newcomers; 'Sessions' Holds Nicely

Julia Loktev’s Gotham Award nominated “The Loneliest Planet” led a generally uneventful weekend at the indie box office, topping fellow newcomers “The Other Son” and “District of Corruption.”

Also of note this weekend was decent second weekends for “The Sessions” and “Holy Motors,” while “Middle of Nowhere,” “Smashed” and “The Paperboy” all continued to struggle.

Full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“The Loneliest Planet” (Sundance Selects)
Recent Gotham Award nominee “The Loneliest Planet” found the best per-theater-average of any debut film this weekend, and the second best of any film in release save “The Sessions.” Directed by Julia Loktev, the film stars Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg. It managed a $20,400 gross from 2 screens, averaging $10,200.

“‘The Loneliest Planet’ got off to a great start for the opening weekend in Los Angeles and New York City,” Sundance Selects’ Mark Boxer said. “We will expand the film to the top 15 markets within the next tow weekends”

“The Other Son(Cohen Media Group)
Lorraine Levy’s French drama “The Other Son” — about ywo young men, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who discover they were accidentally switched at birth — opened on an aggressive 41 screens this weekend. Starring Emmanuelle Devos, Pascal Elbé and Jules Sitruk, the film took in $125,000, averaging $3,000 per theater.

“District of Corruption(Rocky Mountain Pictures)
“District of Corruption” — the lastest doc from right wing filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon (the director of Sarah Palin film “The Undefeated”) — opened on 3 screens in The Villages, Florida, Columbus, Ohio and Houston this weekend and managed respectable results. The film took in $22,123 for a $7,374 average. “You’ll be able to see for yourself a comprehensive exposé of the Obama administration’s current scandals,” the film’s website notes of “Corruption.”

For a full report on more than a dozen holdover releases — including “The Sessions,” “Middle of Nowhere,” “The Paperboy,” “The Master,” “Arbitrage,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“The Sessions” (Fox Searchlight)
Ben Lewin’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner “The Sessions” held on nicely this weekend.  Based on the true story of Mark O’Brien — a poet (played by John Hawkes) paralyzed from neck down due to polio who hired a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to lose his virginity — the film went from 4 to 20 theaters for distributor Fox Searchlight. In addition to openings in Toronto, San Francisco, Boston , Wash DC, and Chicago, there were also a few theatres added in New York and Los Angeles. The Oscar hopeful managed a $230,723 gross as a result, making for a very respectable $11,536 per-theater-average.

“This is a little better than we expected and we are very encouraged by the overall numbers,” Frank Rodriguez, SVP Fox Searchlight Distribution, said. “We will open 13 new markets on 11/2 while expanding in the already opened markets. Word of mouth is starting to build and we are obviously hearing a lot of buzz in regards to the performances of John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy”

The film’s total now stands at $390,366.

READ MORE: ‘The Sessions’ Star John Hawkes On the Negative Side of Fame

Watch “Breaking Lessons,” the documentary about “The Sessions” subject Mark O’Brien, below:

“Holy Motors(Indomina)
One of the most buzzed-about films at the Cannes Film Festival held on 2 screens in its weekend care of Indomina. Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” — starring Denis Lavant, Édith Scob and Kylie Minogue — managed a decent $15,296 gross, averaging $7,648 (and notably its grosses increased at New York’s Film Forum). Since opening last Wednesday, the film has totalled $56,208.

“Brooklyn Castle(PDA)
Katie Dellamaggiore’s documentary “Brooklyn Castle” — which premiered at SXSW — was expanded from 2 to 8 screens this weekend. John Sloss’s Producers Distribution Agency (which also released “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and “Senna”) found a $30,093 gross as a result, averaging $3,762. Its total stands at $53,965 after two weekends.

“The Flat” (Sundance Selects)
Sundance Selects expanded Arnon Goldfinger’s Israeli doc “The Flat” from 2 to 9 screens in its second frame. The result was a $42,300 gross for a $4,700 average. The film’s total stands at $75,600.

“Middle of Nowhere” (AFFRM)
 Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” — coming off two major Gotham Award nominations — expanded from 21 to 24 screens in its third frame. Released by the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) and Participant (after debuting at Sundance), the film grossed $30,134 for a disappointing $1,255 per-theater-average.  The film’s total stands at $166,935. It will expand to San Francisco, New Orleans and Cleveland next weekend.

READ MORE: Gotham Awards Announce 2012 Nominations

“Smashed(Sony Pictures Classics)
Another Sundance alum also struggled this weekend as James Ponsoldt’s “Smashed” went from 20 to 21 screens care of Sony Pictures Classics. The acclaimed film — which Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul as a couple dealing with alcoholism — grossed $44,436 in its second frame for a $2,116 per-theater-average. Though thats a weak number, it did represent a 0% drop from last weekend, which is hopeful. The film’s total now stands at $149,949.

“The Paperboy(Millennium)
Lee Daniels’ Southern gothic flick expanded from 74 to 76 screens in its fourth weekend care of Millennium Entertainment and found more disappointing numbers.  Dropping 8% in grosses, “The Paperboy” grossed $102,106 for a $1,,344 average. Considering its starry cast (Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack and Nicole Kidman), one might have thought it could manage a lot better, even with its generally negative reviews. The film’s total stands at $551,131.

READ MORE: REVIEW: Is Lee Daniels’ ‘The Paperboy’ So Bad Its Good? Only If That’s What You Want From It.

“The House I Live In(Abramorama)
Also in its fourth weekend was Eugene Jarecki’s highly acclaimed doc “The House I Live In.”  Going from 4 to 12 screens, the film — which looks at the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy — grossed $25,029, averaging $2,085 Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for a U.S. doc at Sundance, the film has now totalled $110,637.

“Wuthering Heights(Oscilloscope)
Oscilloscope expanded Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” from 11 to 12 screens in its fourth weekend. The result was a $10,000 gross for a weak $833 per-theater-average. Its total now stands at $62,117.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower(Summit)
Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — adapted from Chboksy’s own 1999 novel — had a healthy sixth weekend, though it seems that it’s peaked overall.

Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as a trio of teenage misfits in 1990s Pittsburgh, Summit Entertainment dropped the film from 745 to 736 screens and saw the film lose 35% of its grosses. That meant a $1,400,000 weekend count, making for a very respectable $1m902 per-theater-average. The film’s total so far stands at $11,207,679. The $15 million mark seems like a likely final cume.

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

“The Master(The Weinstein Company)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s veiled take on Scientology — which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams — dropped from 412 to 201 theaters in its seventh weekend and took another hit.

Falling 48% in grosses, “The Master” took in $269,000. Its $1,338 average helped it find total gross of $15,219,382. That makes competing with the $40.2 million Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” grossed (or half that) seem unlikely.

“Arbitrage” (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate)
Also in its seventh weekend, was “Arbitrage.” Going from 167 down to 125 screens across North America, the film — which stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon — grossed $176,000. That made for a $1,408 average and an official new cume of $7,349,263 (impressive considering it was release day and date on VOD).

The tenth weekend of “Samsara” continued to impress. The non-narrative film — created by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson — is a sort of sequel or continuation of the acclaimed 1993 “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. Dropping from 70 to 67 screens, “Samsara” managed an impressive $94,202, averaging $1,406 per screen. The film’s total now stands at a very impressive $2,178,675 making it the highest grossing Oscilloscope release ever. Back in 1993, “Baraka” grossed $1,254,237. “Samsara” has already nearly doubled that. 

“Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Finally, Sony Pictures Classics dropped Malik Bendjelloul’s doc “Searching For Sugar Man” 23 screens down to 114 screens in its 14th 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 $159,022 over the weekend, down just 19% and averaging a strong $1,395 (eleven consecutive weekends averaging over $1,000 is not too shabby). Its total now stands at  $2,213,934.

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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