After a slew of festival accolades including prizes at Sundance and Cannes, Beasts Of The Southern Wild swarmed the box office. With no stars and a first-time feature filmmaker, the pic nevertheless resonated with specialty audiences in-the-know. In New York and Los Angeles, the Louisiana Bayou-set film averaged an impressive $42,309 in four theaters. It was apparent the feature struck some zeitgeist when its star, 8-year-old newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, made some of the talk-show rounds including The View and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno this week. Unless the universe realigns, the film should be a reasonable hit. Beasts opened last Wednesday and has taken in more than $220K so far.

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Fox Searchlight wasn’t shy about providing some interesting trivia. Beasts director Benh Zeitlin places 6th in the all-time limited release hierarchy for a first-time feature filmmaker. Searchlight had momentum with the title following its win at Sundance where it took the prize for best U.S. dramatic feature and then in Cannes taking the Camera D’Or, though Searchlight is being sanguine about its long-tail. “They were yelling Quvenzhané’s name out at the theaters,” Fox Searchlight’s SVP of distribution Frank Rodriguez said of the film’s young star (her name is pronounced ‘Kay-ven-zhaun-ay’). “But as you know in this business, that doesn’t necessarily win audiences. I think people are so far relating to the situations of struggle in this film. But look, it’s New York and L.A. [so far in release], so we’ll see how it expands, but from the indications and [feedback] we’re getting, we’re very hopeful.” Beasts will move into into Boston, S.F., Chicago, Dallas and the nation’s capital next weekend for a total of 19 locations by next Friday. Also heading out in theaters against the summer blockbusters was Take This Waltz by Canadian actor/filmmaker Sarah Polley. Magnolia Pictures debuted on 2 screens in New York and 28 in Polley’s native land on this Canada Day weekend. Waltz averaged $5K average per theater in North America, but a more impressive $26K when breaking out U.S. numbers. Magnolia will lead Take This Waltz to L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, D.C., Philadelphia and San Diego next Friday.

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Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love was the one to watch among the specialty holdovers. Last weekend the Sony Classics release debuted with a massive $75K average at 5 locations and the distributor expanded it to 29 theaters in its second round with a very solid result. The film averaged just under $26K and has cumed over $1.29M. Other second-weekend holdovers, notably The Invisible War and Kumaré did not report numbers this morning. The breakdown follows below.

NEW

1. Beasts Of The Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight) New [4 Theaters] Weekend $169K Average $42,309

2. Take This Waltz (Magnolia Pictures) New [30 Theaters] Weekend $150K Average $5K

3. Unforgivable (Strand Releasing) New [5 Theaters] Weekend $29,886 Average $5,977

4. Neal Young Journeys (Magnolia Pictures) New [3 Theaters] Weekend $13,280 Average $4,427

Returning / 2nd Weekend

1. To Rome With Love (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [29 Theaters] Weekend $750K Average $25,874, Cume $1.291M

Holdovers / 3RD+ Weekends

1. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) Week 6 [854 Theaters] Weekend $4.87M, Average $5,706 Cume $18.4M

2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [534 Theaters] Weekend $1.065M, Average $1,994, Cume $40.385M

3. Safety Not Guaranteed (FilmDistrict) Week 4 [164 Theaters] Weekend $380K, Average $2,317, Cume $1.684M

4. Bernie (Millennium Entertainment) Week 10 [166 Theaters] Weekend $322K, Average $1,941, Cume $7.26M

5. The Intouchables (The Weinstein Company) Week 6 [68 Theaters] Weekend $316K, Average $4,647, Cume $2.582M

6. Your Sister’s Sister (IFC Films) Week 3 [95 Theaters] Weekend $228K, Average $2,400, Cume $683K

7. Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (IFC Films) Week 4 [42 Theaters] Weekend $29K, Average $700, Cume $508K

8. Headhunters (Magnolia Pictures) Week 9 [22 Theaters] Weekend $25K, Average $1,136, Cume $1.042M

9. Dark Horse (Vitagraph Films) Week 4 [3 Theaters] Weekend $4,200, Average $1,400, Cume $61K

10. Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (Indomina Media) Week 3 [1 Theater] $3,200, Cume $289K.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...
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