Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsThe Weinstein Company has managed to hit the zeitgeist on plenty of occasions, but this is one has eerie timing. The same weekend that the Trayvon Martin verdict was read, the company also happened to release its Sundance Film Festival ’13 winner Fruitvale Station in 7 theaters, pulling in a broad reach of audiences even as the Twittersphere linked the film with last night’s George Zimmerman verdict. Director Ryan Coogler’s drama, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was picked up by TWC at the festival, tells a story that draws parallels with the Martin case which has gripped the 24 news cycle the past couple weeks. Fruitvale Station grossed $377,285 for a stellar $53,898 average in its opening weekend.

Related: ‘Fruitvale Station’ Star Michael B. Jordan Almost Cancels Q&A After Zimmerman Verdict

TWC’s president Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis acknowledged the timing of the film’s release, though he chalked most of the film’s success to its quality rather than timing Sunday morning: “It’s a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It’s a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we’re proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves.” Relating it to the Martin verdict he noted: “It’s a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn’t plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible.” Lomis noted that the film played across the spectrum with a 43% white and 29% African American audience over the weekend.

Asked about the Martin case during a speaking event at the Film Society of Lincoln Center Thursday evening, Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler said: “There’s a million Americans that don’t see Trayvon’s potential, they look at him as a thug that got what he deserved, even though he’s a seventeen yeas old boy that couldn’t even vote yet, that had never been arrested never had a criminal record. And my question is why is that? Why do people look at him and see that. We look at him and see something else. We look at him and see us.”

The film should continue to play well, with exit polls giving it an 88% “definite recommend,” according to Lomis. Fruitvale Station will go to an additional 6 cities next weekend before opening wide July 26th.

India’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had the weekend’s biggest location count amongst the newcomers, opening in 139 theaters, which distributor Reliance Entertainment admitted was a “saturation point” for its core audience of India ex-pats. The film, about a legendary athlete who overcame the murder of his family and homelessness to star on the Olympic stage, opened with $670K and even placed 15th in the overall weekend box office, though it came in with a $4,820 average.

Michael Cera starrer Crystal Fairy, which debuted at Sundance in January bowed in 2 theaters this weekend. Also a winner at the festival, the Sebastián Silva-directed road trip grossed $24K for a slow $12K average, though the film was made on a bare-bones budget. “The shoot basically followed a guerrilla filming style, stopping at various locations and if the time seemed right, they’d break out the equipment,” said Cera this week. “Basically we were kind of always working. We’d drive in the car and shoot something as we were getting to where we were going.” Crystal Fairy will head to the top 20 markets within the next couple of weeks.

Magnolia Pictures‘ Danish feature The Hunt opened in 4 theaters. The film, directed by Lars von Trier protégé Thomas Vinterberg, was a big hit at home though its debut Stateside this weekend was more tepid. The film grossed $44K for an $11 PSA at Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika in New York as well as the Royal and Pasadena Playhouse in L.A. It will head to six more markets July 19th.

Also opening this weekend were Cinema Guild‘s Viola, grossing $6,275 in one theater; Samuel Goldwyn‘s Still Mine, which averaged a slow $5,250 in 4 theaters. Millennium‘s Killing Season bowed with 15 runs for ($1,709 average).

Fox Searchlight‘s The Way, Way Back held solid in its second weekend, adding 60 theaters, grossing $1.11 million in 79 locations, placing it 13th overall in the weekend’s box office. The film averaged $14K vs. its $30K PSA in its debut and has cumed $1.854 million. Noted Searchlight’s Frank Rodriguez Sunday: “We are pleased with the outcome this weekend and are expecting good word of mouth to help us reach a larger audience as we start to expand the film. Our hold was good in the same theaters from last weekend, and we can see that the expansions in already opened markets were very good as well.” Searchlight will add 34 new markets next weekend, bringing the film to about 250-300 locations.

NEW

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Reliance Entertainment) NEW [139 Theaters] Weekend 670K, Average $4,820

Crystal Fairy (Sundance Selects) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $24K, Average $12K

Dealin’ With Idiots (IFC Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $12K

Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company) NEW [7 Theaters] Weekend $377,285, Average $53,898

The Hunt (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $44K, Average $11K

Killing Season (Millennium) NEW [15 Theaters] Weekend $25,628, Average $1,709

Pawn Shop Chronicles (Anchor Bay Entertainment) NEW [15 Theaters] Weekend $4,670, Average $311

Still Mine (Samuel Goldwyn Films) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $21K, Average $5,250

Viola (Cinema Guild) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,275

Returning / 2nd Weekend

Stuck In Love (Millennium Entertainment) Week 2 [15 Theaters] Weekend $12,754, Average $850

The Way, Way Back (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 [79 Theaters] Weekend $1,110,000, Average $14K, Cume $1,854,000

Holdovers / 3RD+ Weekends

Byzantium (IFC Films) Week 3 [12 Theaters] Weekend $12K, Average $1K, Cume $63K

I’m So Excited (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [22 Theaters] Weekend $109,816, Average $4,991, Cume $473,966

The Attack (Cohen Media Group) Week 4 [55 Theaters] Weekend $167,703, Average $3,049, Cume $714,912

Unfinished Song (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [91 Theaters] Weekend $248K, Average $2,725, Cume $793,486

20 Feet From Stardom (RADiUS-TWC) Week 5 [131 Theaters] Weekend $497,378, Average $3,797, Cume $1,770,517

The Bling Ring
(A24) Week 5 [97 Theaters] Weekend $150K, Average $1,546, Cume $5,450,245

Much Ado About Nothing (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) Week 6 [139 Theaters], Weekend $263,700, Average $1,918, Cume $3,411,901

The East (Fox Searchlight) Week 7 [71 Theaters] Weekend $94,800, Average $1,335, Cume $2,127,052

The Kings Of Summer (CBS Films) Week 7 [56 Theaters] Weekend $70K, Average $1,250, Cume $1,204,705

Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8 [154 Theaters] Weekend $313,714, Average $2,037, Cume $7,090,383

Fill The Void (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8 [64 Theaters] Weekend $136,839, Average $2,138, Cume $1,406,184

Frances Ha (IFC Films) Week 9 [57 Theaters] Weekend $96,900, Average $1,700, Cume $3,796,000

Stories We Tell (Roadside Attractions) Week 10 [28 Theaters] Weekend $24,800, Average $875, Cume $1,483,205

What Maisie Knew (Millennium Entertainment) Week 11 [13 Theaters] Weekend $9,615, Average $740, Cume $1,044,576

Mud (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) Week 12 [110 Theaters] Weekend $134,300, Average $1,220, Cume $20,980,839

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