‘Drake’ takes the B.O. cake

Limited Leigh pic has a cume of $78k

As the fall Oscar derby continues, two new releases left the gate at full gait this weekend.

In its first full weekend of release, Fine Line’s “Vera Drake” grossed $43,000 from two Gotham screens, giving it an impressive per screen average of $21,500. And Sony Pictures Classics’ “Being Julia” counted $130,840 in receipts from nine screens, an average of $14,538.

Since “Drake,” helmed by Mike Leigh and starring Imelda Staunton, opened last Sunday following its play in the New York Film Festival, pic has a cume of $78,000.

Distrib is looking to drum up political controversy around the film’s subject, an British homemaker who unbeknownst to her family provides abortions, but so far, the film has been as warmly embraced by pro-life reviewers, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as it has been by pro-choice groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

Among the holdovers, Focus Features kept “The Motorcycle Diaries” in the top 10, placing ninth with $1.7 million from 250 screens, an addition of 83 from last week. The expansion helped increase the gross by 12% in the Che Guevera biopic’s fourth frame. Cume is $5.7 million.

‘Heart’ out of top 10

Fox Searchlight’s “I Heart Huckabees” finished just out of the top 10 in its third frame, bringing in $920,000 from 65 screens, an average of $14,153, and boosting cume to $2.6 million. Searchlight also saw “Napoleon Dynamite,” now playing in its 19th week, cross the $40 million mark over the weekend. Booked at 619 theaters, pic brought in $870,000 to bring cume to $40.4 million.

Other films bowing in the frame include three from Innovative. “Hair Show,” playing on 38 screens, grossed $202,000, for an average of $5,315. “Stephen King’s Riding the Bullet” debuted with $101,000 from 100 screens, an average of just $1,010 per screen. And “Spin” unspooled on nine screens, grossing $13,600, or an average of $1,511.

Thinkfilm’s “Primer” added $63,460 in its second week, playing on 19 screens (up 15 from last week), giving it an average of $3,340 per screen. Cume is now $100,366.

‘Final,’ ‘Eulogy’ bow

Lions Gate also bowed multiple titles. “The Final Cut,” which was distribbed digitally, grossed $235,000 on 117 screens, an average of $2,008. “Eulogy” picked up $45,000 from 22 screens, giving it an average of $2,045.

Distrib’s holdover “Stage Beauty” grossed $95,000 from its 21 engagements, expanded from three last week, giving it a screen average of $4,523. Cume now stands at $156,000.

Warner Independent’s “Around the Bend,” now in its second week, picked up $33,900 from 27 screens (an expansion of 23), averaging $1,511 per screen and bringing cume to $59,000.

Magnolia’s “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” dropped 37% in its third week to $720,000 from 434 screens, bringing cume to $5.1 million.

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