Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Indie Films

More than one New York newscaster half-joked that former NYC mayor Ed Koch upstaged his own movie’s debut this weekend. Koch came in to lead the city at one of its lowest points in the late ’70s — it was on the verge of bankruptcy — but came to typify its brash in your face resilience and becoming a household name around the country via movies and television long after he left office. At 88, Koch died in the early hours Friday morning as the doc about Hizzoner bowed in two New York theaters later that day. It did solid business, but considering the windfall of media coverage on its own turf, the movie performed respectably with a $20K average. But the weekend topper in limited debuts belonged to Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers which opened in three theaters in New York and LA, averaging $22,226. And Dave Grohl’s Sundance doc Sound City followed up a slew of one-nighters around the country this week, opening in 16 theaters with a modest average of $4,375. Grohl planned to take the movie out quickly across multiple platforms following its Sundance premiere and fans apparently decided to access it outside theaters — it was the No. 1 documentary for the weekend on iTunes.

“When added to Thursday evening’s gross of $120,514 (Sound City played 50 special screenings across the country, many for one night only and mostly sold out, on 1/31), the cume gross to date is $190,514 after just 4 days,” according to Sound City’s theatrical distributor Variance Films. The company had its box office messaging in mind today: “We’re not playing the per-screen game on this one — per Dave’s orders, we’re bringing it to the people, no funny stuff — so that per screen includes everything from a $14,000 weekend gross at LA’s Sundance Sunset Cinemas with most of the shows sold out in advance to a $270 gross for a (also sold out) single screening in a 30 seat theatre in NJ.”

Magnolia Pictures continued its tradition of debuting Oscar-nominated shorts theatrically. The nominees averaged a modest $3,714, although the distributor deserves kudos for providing an outlet for these films. It also noted that since releasing the nominated shorts annually since 2006, the average has increased every year. “This per screen represents a jump over last year’s opening weekend per screen of $3,436 for the SHORTS. Our opening weekend PSA has increased every year since the program premiered in 2006 (in 2011 it was $3,165). It also helps that the group of nominated shorts this year, on the whole, is the best we’ve ever had.” In related Magnolia news, the distrib’s  A Royal Affair crossed the $1M mark. Over the weekend it grossed $103K in 37 North American theaters.

The Weinstein Company’s Quartet and Sony Classics’ Amour again held their own as they expanded. Oscar hopeful and French-language feature Amour added 30 theaters in its 7th weekend for an average of $5,288. Quartet added 39 locations in its fourth weekend, grossing $1.184M in 202 theaters, placing 21st among reporting theatrical releases with an average of $5,861.

NEW

2013 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [105 Theaters] Weekend $390K, Average $3,714

The Gatekeepers (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $66,677, Average $22,226, Cume $86,015 (includes qualifying runs)

Koch (Zeitgeist Films) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $40K, Average $20K

Sound City (Variance Films) NEW [16 Theaters] Weekend $70K, Average $4,375

RETURNING / 2ND WEEKEND

John Dies At The End (Magnolia Pictures) Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $7,500, Average $3,750, Cume $22,567

Yossi (Strand Releasing) Week 2 FIGURES NOT REPORTED

HOLDOVERS / 3RD+ WEEKEND

LUV (Indomina) Week 3 [8 Theaters] Weekend $5K, Average $625, Cume $151,089

Quartet (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [202 Theaters] Weekend $1.184M, Average $5,861, Cume $3,474,173

Amour (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [94 Theaters] Weekend $497,090, Average $5,288, Cume $2,487,950

The Impossible (Lionsgate/Summit) Week 7 [765 Theaters] Weekend $1.28M, Average $1,673, Cume $15,188,631

Hyde Park On Hudson (Focus Features) Week 9 [144 Theaters] Weekend $176,139, Average $1,223, Cume $5,575,460

Rust And Bone (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11 [80 Theaters] Weekend $78,841, Average $986, Cume $1,841,964

Anna Karenina (Focus Features) Week 12 [90 Theaters] Weekend $64,817, Average $720, Cume $12,538,788

Chasing Ice (Submarine Deluxe) Week 13 [20 Theaters] Weekend $20,679, Average $1,033, Cume $1,101,704

A Royal Affair (Magnolia Pictures) Week 13 [37 Theaters] Weekend $103K, Average $2,784, Cume $1,007,106

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (Summit Entertainment) Week 20 [37 Theaters] Weekend $14K, Average $378, Cume $17,738,248

The Master (The Weinstein Company) Week 21 [28 Theaters] Weekend $38K, Average $1,357, Cume $16,198,304

Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 28 [18 Theaters] Weekend $24,275, Average $1,349 Cume $3,216,849

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