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Specialty Box Office: ‘Marigold’, ‘Bernie’ Shine As Newcomers Disappoint

By | Sunday May 20, 2012 @ 10:55am PDT

Weekend openers in the specialty arena did not impress once again, taking an unfortunate cue from their studio brethren apart from The Avengers juggernaut. Even so, some holdovers including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Bernie undoubtedly received a champagne santé by their execs today at the (very wet) Cannes Film Festival.

Among specialty newbies, Zeitgeist Films’ Elena led the per-theater race, although it opened at just one location, taking in over $9K. Sony ClassicsHysteria bowed in five theaters, averaging just over $8K, nabbing the second best of the newcomers. More disappointing were Sundance SelectsPolisse, which rolled into three theaters, averaging under $6K, while eOne’s Virginia squeaked out a $1,262 average from five locations.

Pantelion/Lionsgate’s Girl In Progress grossed $460K in its second weekend, down steeply from its debut of $1.35 million in its opener, a gross decline of 67%, while the number of theaters held at 322. Girl averaged $1,429 ($4,193 last week) and has cumed just over $2.1 million. Also in its second weekend, Where Do We Go Now? added nine locations, averaging $2,174 from a $26K gross. In its debut, the film averaged $5,592 from three theaters.

The Best Exotic Marigold HotelNow in its third weekend, Fox Searchlight’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel took the No. 6 spot in the overall national box office — pretty impressive considering it’s in only 354 theaters. By comparison, The Hunger Games, which is in seventh place (although it’s been in release awhile) remained in 2,064 theaters. With a weekend gross of $3.25 million, Marigold has now cumed $8.2 million. By comparison, last year’s Midnight In Paris had taken in just under $7 million at the same point in release. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has started to draw from a wider audience who are interested in a film with interesting characters, a great story, and lots of laughter,” said Frank Rodriguez, Fox Searchlight’s SVP of Distribution. Searchlight will expand the film into 1,100 theaters heading into Memorial Day weekend. Also impressive is Millennium’s Bernie which had a 133% increase in gross over the previous weekend after adding 59 locations. The Richard Linklater-directed feature grossed $511K, averaging $5,380 vs last weekend’s $6,014.

NEW

1. Hysteria (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $40,829, Average $8,166

2. Polisse (Sundance Selects) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $17,680, Average $5,893

3. Elena (Zeitgeist Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $9,393

4. Virginia (Entertainment One) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $6,311, Average $1,262

5. American Animal (Screen Media) NEW [1 Theaters] Weekend $6K
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Specialty Box Office: ‘Elena,’ ‘Never Stand Still,’ ‘Polisse,’ ‘Virginia’

By | Friday May 18, 2012 @ 10:31am PDT

The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and at least two distributors are bowing their Cannes cache this weekend. Zeitgeist Films is debuting Elena in the U.S. The film won awards in Cannes and elsewhere before its long (and somewhat bizarre) road to the screen. Sundance Selects, meanwhile will roll out French César and Cannes winner Polisse in theaters and day-and-date VOD using some of its past offerings as a distribution template. Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut Virginia opens in limited release and documentary Never Stand Still starts its rollout in New York before heading to other cities.

Elena
Director Andrei Zvyagintsev
Writer: Oleg Negin
Cast: Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, Aleksey Rozin
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

Elena started as an English-language project spearheaded by a British producer who had an idea for a film about the Apocalypse. Four directors from four continents were attached, with Zvyagintsev set to represent Europe, but the project fell through. The director didn’t want to give up and pitched it to a number of Russian producers who declined, but finally met producer Alexander Rodnyansky. “It took me one night to read the script, call him back and say that I am ready to produce and finance it,” said Rodnyansky told Deadline. “It has been a very rewarding experience both from the creative and financial points of view.”

With Russian financing set and a Russian-language script, Zvyagintsev cast relative newcomer Nadezhda Markina as the lead, which was a risk. “She’s not a celebrity so to speak,” said Rodnyansky. “In fact, her filmography list is rather short — some minor roles in a few films or TV series.” But the choice turned out well, Rodnyansky said, praising her “nuanced” and “multi-dimensional” approach to the role, which also garnered her some acting nods including the Durban International Film Festival and the Festival Nouveau Cinema Montreal. Also in the cast is Andrey Smirnov, a big name in Russia, having directing some Soviet-era classics. Forced to take a hiatus from filmmaking, he took up acting and appeared in Elena, though even that almost come together due to a conflict with his own return behind the camera after a nearly three decade absence. After a latenight persuasion session aided by a bottle of Calvados, Zvyagintsev along with his wife and son convinced the director/actor to stay on board. “They managed to arrange a special shooting schedule for Smirnov so that he could have fewer shooting days and not to have a long break in his editing,” noted Rodnyansky. Read More »

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