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Specialty Box Office: ‘This Must Be The Place,’ ‘Vamps’ and ‘The Bay’ Among Weak Openers In Sandy-Afflicted Weekend For Indies

Specialty Box Office: 'This Must Be The Place,' 'Vamps' and 'The Bay' Among Weak Openers In Sandy-Afflicted Weekend For Indies

While the studios boasted a very strong first weekend of November (thanks to “Wreck It Ralph” and “Flight”), the specialty market struggled. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, popular New York indie venues like the IFC Center, the Sunshine, the Angelika and the Film Forum were among those closed for part of the weekend. And only one film — Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Café de Flore” — estimated an average of over $10,000 — and that could easily change with final numbers, as “Flore” averaged exactly $10,000. And it was screening exclusively in a Miami suburb.

READ MORE: Legends (and Failures) of the Fall: Indie Box Office Winners and Losers

Among the openers that struggled were “This Must Be The Place,” “The Details,” “The Bay” and “Vamps,” though some hopeful news came care of holdovers like “The Sessions,” “The Flat” and the whopping 15th weekend of “Searching For Sugar Man,” which managed to jump 18% despite losing screens.

Full rundown below.

The Debuts:

“Cafe De Flore” (Adopt Films)
Jean-Marc Vallee’s Quebecois import “Café de Flore” opened on one screen — the 144 Coral Gables Art Cinema in surburban Miami — and ended with the best per-theater-average among new specialty titles.  It is estimated to gross $10,000 over the weekend, and will open in New York Friday and in LA on November 16th.

“A Late Quartet(Entertainmeny One)
“A Late Quartet” — starring Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Catherine Keener — managed a respectable $75,899 from 9 screens this weekend, averaging $8,433. Notably, the film managed a massive $31,123 at New York’s Lincoln Plaza alone and was hurt by The Sunshine’s closure until midday Saturday. The film will expand to 25 markets on November 9.

“This Must Be The Place(The Weinstein Company)
Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place,” starrring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, grossed just $7,052 from 2 screens for a $3,526 average. Again, one should keep in mind that one of its 2 screens was the Sunshine in New York.

“The Details(RADiUS-TWC)
Not faring better was the latest release from The Weinstein Company’s RADiUS label (which notably also releases on VOD), Jacob Aaron Estes’ “The Details.” Starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney, the film grossed just $19,981 from 14 screens, averaging a poor $1,427 (though one of those 14 screens was notably closed Friday due to Sandy).

“The Bay(Roadside Attractions)
Barry Levinson’s well-received Toronto pick-up “The Bay” opened on 23 screens (also including ones closed Friday), and took in only $21,400, averaging a dismal $930.

“Vamps(Anchor Bay)
Outdoing “The Bay” was Amy Heckerling’s Alicia Silverstone reunion “Vamps” (a vampire comedy that’s already been out on DVD, and oddly opened in theater the weekend after Halloween). The film grossed just $500 from a single screen.

For a full report on more than a dozen holdover releases — including “The Loneliest Planet,” “The Sessions,” “Middle of Nowhere,” “Searching For Sugar Man” and “The Master”  — continue to the next page.

The Holdovers:

“The Loneliest Planet” (Sundance Selects)
Recent Gotham Award nominee “The Loneliest Planet” expanded from 2 to 9 screens, the film grossed $21,600, averaging $2,400 per theater. That’s a big drop in its per-theater-average from last weekend, though the film was notably playing at New York’s IFC Center, which closed until Saturday morning. Directed by Julia Loktev, the film stars Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg. It has totalled $40,500 after 10 days of release.

“The Sessions” (Fox Searchlight)
Ben Lewin’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner “The Sessions” held on nicely in its third 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 20 to 60 theaters for distributor Fox Searchlight, and jumped 110% in grosses. The Oscar hopeful managed a $455,899, making for a very respectable $6,607 per-theater-average. The film’s total now stands at $930,817. Next week, the film will open 17 new cities and expand once again in the markets already playing it.

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

“Holy Motors(Indomina)
One of the most buzzed-about films at the Cannes Film Festival expanded from 2 to 5 screens in its third weekend care of Indomina. Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” — starring Denis Lavant, Édith Scob and Kylie Minogue — managed a $15,078 gross, averaging $3,016. Notably, its downtown NYC theater was closed until mid-Saturday. The film has totalled $83,509.

“Brooklyn Castle(PDA)
Katie Dellamaggiore’s documentary “Brooklyn Castle” — which premiered at SXSW — was expanded from 8 to 13 screens this weekend. John Sloss’s Producers Distribution Agency (which also released “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and “Senna”) found a $30,261 gross as a result, averaging $2,328. Its total stands at $90,392 after 17 days.

“The Flat” (Sundance Selects)
Sundance Selects expanded Arnon Goldfinger’s Israeli doc “The Flat” from 9 to 20 screens in its third frame. The result was a strong $74,000 gross for a $3,700 average. The film’s total stands at $161,000.

“Middle of Nowhere” (AFFRM)
 Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” — coming off two major Gotham Award nominations — went down from 24 to 8 screens in its fourth frame due to unexpected complications due to Hurricane Sandy. Released by the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) and Participant (after debuting at Sundance), the film grossed $16,317 for a $2,039 per-theater-average (notably up from last weekend’s average, though in large part due to the screen reduction).  The film’s total stands at $192,724. The film will return to Chicago, Atlanta and other key markets in its fifth frame 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” held steady on 21 screens care of Sony Pictures Classics. The  film — which Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul as a couple dealing with alcoholism — grossed $35,993 in its fourth frame for a $1,714 per-theater-average. That represented just a 9% drop from last weekend, which is hopeful. The film’s total now stands at $200,586.

“The Paperboy(Millennium)
Lee Daniels’ Southern gothic flick dropped from 76 to 42 screens in its fifth weekend care of Millennium Entertainment and found more disappointing numbers.  Dropping 42% in grosses, “The Paperboy” grossed $51,670 for a $1,230 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 $631,452.

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 fifth weekend was Eugene Jarecki’s highly acclaimed doc “The House I Live In.”  Going from 12 to 11 screens, the film — which looks at the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy — grossed $14,733, averaging $1,333. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for a U.S. doc at Sundance, the film has now totalled $133,535.

“Wuthering Heights(Oscilloscope)
Oscilloscope took Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” from 12 to 11 screens in its fifth weekend. The result was a $5,101 gross for a weak $464 per-theater-average. Its total now stands at $70,425.

“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 736 to 622 screens and saw the film lose just 13% of its grosses. That meant a $1,256,000 weekend count, making for a very respectable $2,018 per-theater-average (impressively up from last weekend). The film’s total so far stands at $13,073,350. The $15 million mark is all but assured.

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 201 to 238 theaters in its eighth weekend.

Falling 30% in grosses (relative to last weekend’s 48% drop, not bad), “The Master” took in $180,000. Its $1,304 average helped it find total gross of $15,510,795. That makes competing with the $40.2 million Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” grossed (or half that) seem unlikely.

The eleveth 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.” Dropping from 67 to 62 screens, “Samsara” managed an impressive $70,348, averaging $1,135per screen. The film’s total now stands at a very impressive $2,305,601 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” 9 screens down to 105 screens in its 15th 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 $162,675 over the weekend, impressivey rising 18% in grosses despite losing screns, and averaging a strong $1,549 (fifteen consecutive weekends averaging over $1,000 is not too shabby). Its total now stands at  $2,424,127.

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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