Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty opened Wednesday with the highest-ever midweek per-theater debut at $24,969 and 5-theater opening-day total of $124,848 and it’s having a great pre-Christmas weekend. Sony’s decision to delay the movie’s release until after the presidential election and to go with a limited debut appears to have paid off. The controversial but critically praised heavyweight grossed a whopping $410K at only five locations and handily won the highest per screen average of any film in theatrical release with $82,000. That is just shy of Lincoln’s $85,846 average when it opened in 11 theaters in early November and it is well ahead of Bigelow’s Oscar winner The Hurt Locker‘s $36,338 average when it opened in 4 theaters in June of 2009. Named Best Picture by a slew of critics groups including The New York Film Critics Circle, Zero Dark Thirty will head to wide release January 11th, the day after Oscar nominations are announced.
Sony Pictures Classics’ Palme d’Or and LA Film Critics winner Amour bowed solidly this weekend — the only new title among specialty films to fare so well. Amour averaged $23,554 in three theaters in its platform debut. Smaller audiences went along for the ride with IFC Films’ On The Road despite its star power. Road averaged $10,800 in 4 locations. Lionsgate-Summit’s The Impossible averaged a middling $9,250 from 15 theaters, while Paramount Vantage’s Not Fade Away took an average of $6,333 in three runs.
Amour’s arrival had momentum with its Cannes Film Festival win and other accolades, but its tough subject matter – a husband and wife confronting mortality – nevertheless made it a challenge. Its weekend average topped director Michael Haneke’s previous Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon, which opened with a $19,949 average in three theaters in 2009 and far outpaced his $11,402 opening average for Cache in 2005. SPC co-president Michael Barker (more…)