James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” has been anything but a box office disaster, launching impressively with $1.2 million at 19 locations for a $64,254 per screen average for A24.

Despite its small release footprint, “The Disaster Artist” was the 12th highest domestic grosser during the weekend. A24, which said exit polling showed “sensational” word of mouth, will expand the title to approximately 800 screens on Dec. 8.

The weekend also saw two other strong platform debuts with Fox Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water” grossing $166,800 at two theaters and Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” with $140,555 at five sites through Amazon.

“The Shape of  Water,” directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins, won the Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival and has earned a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%. Fox Searchlight plans to expand the film to between 40 and 50 locations on Dec. 8 and to between 700 and 800 sites by the Christmas holiday play period.

“Wonder Wheel,” starring Kate Winslet, will expand to the top 10 markets on Dec. 8 and go nationwide on Dec. 15. It’s the 48th film that Allen has directed.

Sony Classics continued to see a stellar performance from its second weekend of “Call Me By Your Name,” which posted $281,280 at four screens for a 10-day total of $908,175. The coming-of-age saga won best feature at the Gotham Independent Film Awards on Nov. 27. Sony Classics plans a gradual expansion into a few more Los Angeles and New York sites next weekend, then will add San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C, on Dec. 15.

“Call Me By Your Name” posted the best three-day limited opening of the year during the Nov. 24-26 weekend with $412,932 at four locations.

“The Disaster Artist” screened in March as a work in progress at South by Southwest, where it received a standing ovation. Critics were impressed with Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau in the film about the making of Wiseau’s so-bad-that-it’s-good film “The Room.” Franco won the best male actor award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote in his review: “Like such kindred spirits in quantity over quality as Tyler Perry and Joe Swanberg, James Franco has made a crapload of movies. Sooner or later, he was bound to deliver a good one.”

Franco directed “The Disaster Artist” from a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the book by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. The ensemble also features his brother Dave Franco as Sestero, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Ari Graynor, and Jason Mantzoukas.

Warner Bros. is handling the international release for “The Disaster Artist” and will begin the foreign rollout next weekend.

Focus Features’ second weekend of “Darkest Hour” took in $109,000 at four locations with a per theatre average of $27,150, lifting its 12-day total $412,000. The World War II drama, with Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill, will expand into 50 theaters in the top 10 markets on Dec. 8.