‘Bad’ off to good start

'Education' gets all A's

Spanish helmer Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education” got straight “A’s” at the box office this weekend, as the Sony Pictures Classics reported $147,366 in its first weekend on three Gotham screens, averaging $49,122 per.

“This is by far Pedro Almodovar’s best opening,” said SPC distrib head Tom Prassis. “Not only are his loyal fans returning, but a new audience is discovering him for the first time.”

He attributed pic’s success to new fans won by 2002’s “Talk to Her,” which gained wide awareness with its Oscar for original screenplay.

While many specialty pics have been burning up screens in Gotham and L.A., no indie pic has yet been able to maintain that pace when it moved to a wider release pattern.

Sony Classics will roll out “Education” slowly, opening it in L.A. on Dec. 10 and then going to the rest of the top 25 markets on Christmas.

Among the holdovers, Miramax had a good second week with its Johnny Depp starrer “Finding Neverland.” Playing on 57 screens, up from eight on its opening last weekend, pic grossed $821,312, an average of $14,409.

Miramax will be looking to turn “Neverland” into a mainstream hit when it expands into around 800 theaters on Wednesday. Shingle sneaked the pic at a similar number of locations over the weekend, filling about 65% of its seats.

According to its polls, crowd was 60% female and the 21-35 age group was the strongest segment.

Among the holdovers, Fox Searchlight saw “Sideways” slow a bit when it expanded to 279 screens, up 135 from the previous week. The Alexander Payne-helmed pic grossed a respectable but not spectacular $1.81 million, an average of $6,487 per screen. Cume now stands at $6.02 million.

Focus Features’ “The Motorcycle,” playing on 233 screens in its ninth week, grossed a mellow $579,498 over the weekend, averaging $2,478, bringing its cume to $12.7 million.

Sony Classics’ “Being Julia” took the biggest leap in its run, adding 135 theaters to reach 233 in its fifth week; it mustered $400,260 over the frame, an average of $1,718. Cume now is at $2.2 million.

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