Sunday, July 18, 2010

Indie Film is alive: "The Kids Are Alright" makes One Million

 With few new indie films hitting the marketplace (and the unusually intelligible studio film, “Inception,” raking more than $60 million), the specialty box office was once again all about “The Kids” as Lisa Cholodenko’s family dramedy expanded very nicely in its second weekend.  According to estimates earlier this afternoon, Focus Features released “The Kids are All Right” grossed $1,027,356 on just 38 screens (up from 7 screens last weekend).  That placed it 12th overall, beating out films playing in hundreds of screens more than it.

The warmly reviewed “Kids” - which seems like a bonafide contender for this year’s Oscar race - details a tempestuous summer in the lives of Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), a couple anticipating their daughter Joni’s move to college.  Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has just turned 18, and her younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) wants her to make use of her newfound status as a legal adult to seek out the sperm donor to which both of them were born from.  Enter Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who immediately hits it off with his newfound biological children and in turn begins to send the family into quite the emotional tailspin.

Its sophomore gross amounted to a strong $27,036 per-theater-average, obviously a big drop from last weekend’s mammoth average but a promising one as the film continues to expand. It was the best per-theater-average of any specialty release in its second weekend, grossing well beyond “The Ghost Writer,” which averaged $18,350 back in February, and “Cyrus,” which took in $17,719 a few weeks ago. “Kids” total now stands at $1,776,863.

Speaking of “Cyrus,” Fox Searchlight’s comedy went from 200 to 446 in this its fifth weekend, and appears to have peaked. Grossing $1,075,000, the improvised dark comedy actually dropped off 16% from last weekend despite nearly double the screen count. Its $2,410 per-theater-average was down from $6,875 last weekend.  Still, the $7 million budgeted film total now stands at $5,065,000 with a few more million sure to come, making it one of the year’s top indie grossers. It’s just clearly not becoming the $30 million+ hit Searchlight had with “(500) Days of Summer” last year.

After debuting on an aggressive 110 screens last weekend (one of the widest foreign film openings in some time), Music Box Films took Daniel Alfredson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire” to 141 screens and saw a 27% fall in grosses. “Fire” grossed $662,379 for a decent $4,698 average. The second film adapted from the popular book series, “Fire” was eleased just 4 months afters its intensely successful predecessor “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”  “Fire” (which has already grossed over $50 million overseas) has now already grossed $2,001,137, an impressive number for a foreign release.

Meanwhile, two summer success stories continued to perform well. In its fifth weekend, Luca Guadagnino’s critical darling “I Am Love” went from 110 to 140 screens and grossed $420,000, averaging roughly $3,000 per screen and taking its total to $2,666,939. The film, which details the refined world of a wealthy Italian family (led by Tilda Swinton, who learned to speak Italian for the role), is quickly becoming a significant success story for distributor Magnolia Pictures.  It should cross the $3 million mark by the end of next weekend.

Crossing that mark this weekend was another summer hit, Debra Granik’s Sundance prize winner “Winter’s Bone.” The film, which follows a young woman living in the Ozark Mountains played by Jennifer Lawrence, went from 106 to 120 screens and grossed a strong $361,720.  That gave the Roadside Attractions release a $3,014 average and took its total to a stellar $3,078,392.

Another big Sundance winner - Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning doc “Restrepo” -  went from 25 to 31 screens and grossed $94,262 for distributor National Geographic. That gave the film a decent average of $3,041 and a cume of $410,497.

Finally, in its fourteenth week in release, Sony Pictures Classics’ foreign language Oscar winner, “The Secret In Their Eyes,” passed the $6 million mark at the box office. The film drew $96,213 on 81 screens over the weekend. - Peter Knegt

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