Cannes gives lift to ‘Moonrise’

Focus release set per-screen box office record

Memorial Day weekend was lackluster for wide releases “Men in Black 3” and “Chernobyl Diaries,” but for the specialty players — notably, “Moonrise Kingdom” — holiday box office shined.

“Moonrise,” which is Focus Features’ first Memorial Day release and first collaboration with helmer Wes Anderson, scored the best-ever per-screen average ($130,749 over three days) for a live-action film. The pic launched at four locations, including Gotham’s Union Square and ArcLight Hollywood, the latter of which was the weekend’s No. 1 theater overall through May 28.

“Moonrise” marks the latest pic to have opened the Cannes Film Festival and then to have gone on to achieve notable box office success in limited release. “Midnight in Paris” turned the trick in 2011, registering last year’s highest per-screen average, approximately $99,800, the weekend before Memorial Day. “The Tree of Life,” which won the Palme d’Or last year, bowed over the holiday with an equally impressive $93,000 per screen.

The correlation between Cannes and Memorial Day success is not coincidental, as the mid-May festival carries considerable clout among arthouse auds — the core constituency for pics like “Moonrise.”

The film, which tells the stylized story of young love between two pre-teens who run away and become the focus of a search party, toplines Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton.

Focus added 12 locations for the pic on June 1, in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

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