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'Anna Karenina,' 'Silver Linings' find love at the specialty box office

Moviegoers got into the holiday spirit over the Nov. 16-18 frame, as a pair of pics, “Anna Karenina” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” found love at the specialty box office.

Both films bowed in limited release, at 16 domestic locations apiece, though the Weinstein Co.’s “Playbook” played slightly better, with an opening per-screen average of $27,688, and a $443,003 three-day total. Focus Features’ “Anna Karenina” managed to crack the $20,000 per-screen benchmark thanks to higher revised weekend totals of $320,690.

There was some cannibalization over the weekend, since both pics launched at some of the same theaters, including the Landmark in Los Angeles. “Playbook,” however, drew a more commercial crowd, driven largely by stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The pic scored strong results in Philadelphia, where the film is set.

“Anna Karenina” saw its biggest returns from upper-crust theaters such as New York’s Lincoln Square and the Village. And while “Anna” drew low- to mid-sized grosses from locations in Chicago and Boston, the film saw massive upticks in those cities Friday to Saturday, with Boston at more than 100% and Chicago at 90%.

“The art crowd, no question, was the driver this (past) weekend,” Focus distribution prexy Jack Foley says.

Weinstein plans to expand “Silver Linings” to some 400 locations Nov. 21 (modified from the pic’s originally planned wide release), while “Anna Karenina” broadens to approximately 300 engagements Nov. 30. Both pics will continue to roll out through awards season.

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