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Specialty Box Office: ‘Ex-Machina’ Explodes To Year’s Best Indie Debut; ‘Clouds of Sils Maria,’ ‘Dior and I’ Also Strong

Specialty Box Office: 'Ex-Machina' Explodes To Year's Best Indie Debut; 'Clouds of Sils Maria,' 'Dior and I' Also Strong

A24 sure is having a good few weeks. Less than a month after Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young” had 2015’s best limited debut so far, the distributor’s last film “Ex-Machina” eclipsed it.

Directed by Alex Garland, the British sci-fi thriller managed to gross a stunning $250,000 from just 4 theaters, averaging $62,500. That tops the $56,922 “While We’re Young” averaged to become the best per-theater-average for a 2015 release.

“‘Ex Machina’ catapulted into the weekend by selling out Thursday sneaks and maintained that trend throughout Friday and Saturday,” A24’s Heath Shapiro said. “Audiences were blown away by visionary storyteller Alex Garland’s critically acclaimed science-fiction film, making it the highest limited release opening of the year.”

A24 said they would be expanding the film “aggressively” in the coming weeks, where surely they hope the film holds on as nicely as “While We’re Young” has. That film went from 34 to 246 theaters in its third weekend and jumped into the overall top 10 with a 185% increase in grosses. Taking in $1,377,000, “Young” averaged $5,698 and took its total to $2,355,000.

“‘While We’re Young’ is hitting its stride as it continues to expand very strongly into theaters nationwide,” Shaprio said. “The movie continues to perform very well in arthouses and crossover commercial complexes all over the country.”

The film has already outgrossed Baumbach’s “Margot at the Wedding” and should easily top “Greenberg” and “Frances Ha” in the next few weeks. It stars Baumbach regular Ben Stiller alongside Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Stiller and Watts play a couple in their 40s who begin hanging out with a pair of twentysomethings (Driver and Seyfried).

Though it didn’t quite hit “Ex-Machina” or “While We’re Young” opening numbers, IFC Films had a very nice first weekend from “Clouds of Sils Maria.” Directed by Olivier Assayas, the French import stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz and has been garnering acclaim since it debuted at Cannes almost a year ago (Stewart became the first American actress to win a César Award back in February). That helped bring in $70,000 from 3 theaters this weekend, averaging a strong $23,333. The film will expand in the coming weekends.

Another new release that showed strong opening numbers was “Dior and I.” The fashion documentary, released by The Orchard, first found acclaim when it premiered almost a year ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. The movie pulled in $50,573 from two New York theaters for a $25,287, which bodes well as it gears up for an expansion to Los Angeles and Toronto this week followed by as many as 150 theaters by May 1.

Also from IFC Films, “5 to 7” — a romantic drama starring Anton Yelchin, Berenice
Marlohe and Olivia Thirlby — expanded from 2 to 21 theaters in its second weekend, taking in $31,000 for a so-so $1,476 average. The film has now taken in $55,000.

Classics’ “Lambert & Stamp” — a documentary that reveals how the
unlikely partnership between aspiring filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit
Lambert produced rock band The Who — also expanded in weekend two, going from 3 to 7 theaters. It took in $13,000 as a result, averaging  only $1,857 per theater. “Stamp” has now grossed $33,000.

Another documentary from Sony Classics had a much better weekend. Wim
Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s Oscar nominated “The Salt of
the Earth” went from 18 to 27 theaters and grossed a solid $82,000.  Portraying the works of the
Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, the film averaged $3,037 and took its total to $259,635.

Expanding nicely in its fourth weekend was the first release from Bleecker Street
Films, which was formed last year by former Focus Features Co-CEO Andrew
Karpen. “Danny Collins” stars Al Pacino as an aging rocker, with
Annette Bening and Jennifer Garner heading up the supporting cast. It
managed a $1,600,000 gross from 739 theaters (up from 83), averaging a very respectable $2,165. The film has now grossed $2,497,000 and is turning into a nice little performer for the new company.

Also in its fourth weekend
was Eugene Green’s “La Sapienza,” the
first film from Green (an American who has been living and making films
in France) to hit US theaters. The film dropped from 6 to 3 theaters, taking in $7,000 and bringing its total gross to $83,622 . Expansion to numerous markets on both coasts is in the works
for the coming weeks.

Finally, David Robert Mitchell’s buzzy horror flick “It
Follows” continued its success story as RADiUS-TWC saw it drop 22 theaters to 1,633 but lose only 19% of its weekend-to-weekend gross.  The film — which premiered back in Cannes last
May — managed to place eighth on the overall box office chart, grossing
$2,027,000 and averaging $1,241.  Following a
group of teenagers pursued by a supernatural entity after having sex,
RADiUS had decided to hold back the film’s VOD release and expand it
wide first, and the strategy has paid off. “It Follows” has now grossed $11,798,000 — the second specialty release of 2015 to cross the $10 million mark after “Still Alice.”  

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. This article has been updated to include figures for “Dior and I.”

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