Specialty pair earn top per-screen averages

While wide releases target aggregate box office, the specialty biz prizes per-screen average. A pair of pics over the March 9-11 weekend registered noteworthy numbers by that measure, led by Sony Pictures Classics’ Oscar-nommed “Footnote,” which scored the year’s highest per-screen opening to date.

The Israeli pic bowed at two locations in New York (Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika), averaging $23,764 per screen. Magnolia docu “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” averaged $21,018 — the year’s third-highest per-screen average — from the same number of playdates.

By this time last year, however, the top specialty openers had better per-screen averages than this year’s top crop.

Focus Features’ “Jane Eyre” led the pack of specialty releases after bowing this same weekend, with a per-screen of $45,721 from four engagements. Last year’s No. 2 specialty opener at this point, “Bill Cunningham New York,” averaged $33,677 — but from just one opening location.

The debut success for “Footnote” and “Jiro” should help both films as they expand over the coming weeks. SPC added theaters in Los Angeles and Chicago for “Footnote” during its second frame domestically, while Magnolia expanded “Jiro” to L.A. on March 16, with additional U.S. markets to come March 23.

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