Everyone wants a little comedy these days — even adults.
For specialty pics, this fall is proving particularly tough for angst-driven storylines about human relations and politics. Could dramedies be having an easier time at the box office?
Take this weekend: “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” a twisted, quirky tale about suicide, posted the top per-screen average among limited bows, and the second-best per-screen average overall among specialty pics after the Weinstein Co.’s “Control.”
“Wristcutters,” a 2006 Sundance entry that has taken almost two years to get to the bigscreen, debuted at an estimated $38,443 from three runs for a per location average of $12,814, according to Rentrak. After Dark Films is distribbing.
That easily outperformed Terry George’s Mark Ruffalo-Joaquin Phoenix starrer “Reservation Road,” which also toplines Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino. Opening in 13 runs in select markets, the Focus Features drama grossed an estimated $36,821 for a per-screen average of $2,832.
In its second weekend, MGM and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment’s quirky Ryan Gosling starrer “Lars and the Real Girl” saw a 120% bump in business as it expanded from seven to 21 theaters. Dramedy grossed $185,000 for a per-screen average of $8,810 and a cume of $312,615.
And in its fourth weekend, Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” from Fox Searchlight, grossed an estimated $1.3 million as it expanded from 95 to 202 theaters for a per-screen average of $6,535 and a cume of $3.9 million. That’s an 18% gain.
That’s not to say that some serious-minded titles aren’t doing business of their own.
For the second weekend, TWC’s “Control” clocked in with the best per screen average among limited releases. Film, a biopic of the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, grossed an estimated $36,500 for a cume of $91,000 and a per-screen average of $18,226 as it added a Los Angeles theater to its one Gotham run.
Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution,” from Focus, posted a per-screen average of $4,687 as it expanded from 77 to 125 runs for an estimated gross of $585,900 in its fourth frame and a cume of $2.1 million.
Among those pics platforming, Paramount Vantage took the biggest leap of the weekend with Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild.” Expanding from 153 to 658 theaters, film grossed an estimated $2.1 million for a per-screen average of $3,267.
“Into the Wild,” starring Emile Hirsch, came in No. 14 for the weekend overall, ahead of the wide debut of DreamWorks-Paramount’s Halle Berry-Benicio Del Toro starrer “Things We Lost in the Fire,” which grossed $1.6 million from 1,142 screens.
Vantage said the film is showing strength in a “very congested” marketplace, and that it opened strongly in markets including Anchorage, Austin, Buffalo and Salt Lake City, as well as a stable increase in core markets.
Warner Bros. didn’t have as much luck when expanding Brad Pitt-Casey Affleck starrer “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” from four runs to 301 theaters in the film’s fifth frame.
“Jesse James,” which has struggled to find an aud, grossed an estimated $560,000 for a per-screen average of $1,860.
Among other limited openings over the weekend, Samuel Goldwyn Films’ “O Jerusalem,” about the creation of the state of Israel, grossed an estimated $33,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a per-screen average of $3,000.