'Shopgirl,' 'Kiss Kiss' post hearty bows

Four wide openers, including the adaptation of the hit vidgame “Doom,” weren’t enough to reverse the gloom at the B.O., but several specialty pics were able to rev up solid per-screen averages over the weekend.

With Universal’s actioner coming in at the low end of expectations — $15.4 million on 3,044 screens — and no other pics topping $10 million, weekend was 15% off last year’s total, when “The Grudge” made a killing.

But Warner Independent saw “Good Night, and Good Luck” almost break into the top 10 on just 225 screens, and Disney’s “Shopgirl” and WB’s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” posted hearty bows in limited release.

DreamWorks’ “Dreamer” was No. 2, ponying up $9.3 million on 2,007 screens.

Warner Bros.’ Charlize Theron starrer “North Country” debuted in fifth place with $6.5 million on 2,555.

As expected, Fox thriller “Stay” couldn’t even get audiences to sit, opening out of the top 10 with $2.2 million on 1,277.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit” continued to hold strong, declining just 24% to take the No. 3 spot with $8.7 million. Cume on the Aardman Animations-produced claymation toon is $44 million.

Revolution and Sony’s “The Fog” declined 38% to $7.3 million, good enough for fourth place. Cume is $21.5 million.

Other pics with legs included Disney’s “Flightplan,” which descended just 27% to $4.7 million in seventh place, and New Line’s “A History of Violence,” which fell 25%, taking in $2.7 million in the No. 9 spot. Cumes are $77.3 million and $26.3 million, respectively.

“Dreamer” and “North Country” both drew excellent aud responses, leading studios to hope pics will go the distance. Ninety percent of parents said they would recommend DreamWorks family pic, while 99% of kids said the same. As a result, studio decided to accelerate its screen expansion. Previously planned to grow gradually over next several weeks, film will now hit around 2,500 screens next week.

“North Country’s” aud was 62% female and 68% over 30.

“It was a little shy of expectations, but we expect word of mouth to help it grow,” WB distrib topper Dan Fellman said.

While not thrilled with the “Doom” perf, U distrib chief Nikki Rocco was as concerned with the overall state of the biz, which is down 6% for the year after this weekend, according to Nielsen EDI.

“I’m please we’re No. 1, though of course I wish it was bigger,” she said. “But you worry about the business overall. We keep saying the best is yet to come, and yet each weekend that’s not what we’re reporting.”

“Doom” auds were 69% male and 61% under 25. Indicating strong appeal to the core aud, 59% had previously played the vidgame.

News was better for limited releases, with one pic seeing a very strong expansion and two enjoying solid debuts.

Warner Independent’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” upped its screen count to 225, up from 68 last week, to take in $2.3 million for a per playdate average of $10,244. Cume is $4.6 million. It next moves to between 400 and 700 screens on Nov. 4.

Auds were in a buying mood for Disney’s “Shopgirl.” Adaptation of the Steve Martin novella opened on eight screens and averaged $29,749 for a total of $236,000 in its first weekend. Pic expands to 45 playdates next week.

WB’s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” also launched strongly on eight screens, bringing in $174,000, or $21,796 per play. Next Friday, Shane Black-helmed thriller will hit around 40 screens.

Thinkfilm’s “Protocols of Zion” debuted on four screens in New York and L.A., making $24,280, or $6,070 each. Banner also debuted “Three of Hearts” with a single Gotham play, making $5,085 for the weekend and $7,922 since its Wednesday opening.

Samuel Goldwyn and Sony’s “The Squid and the Whale” drew $322,000 on 40 screens for a weekend take of $322,000 and cume of $922,000. Per screen average was $8,050. Next week it adds 20 plays in 10 new markets.

Sony Classics’ “Capote” stayed strong in its fourth week, making $659,000 on 52 screens for $12,682 per play. Cume is $2.2 million.

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