Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's martial arts biopic The Grandmaster topped a subdued weekend at the specialty box office, grossing $132,259 from seven theaters for a location average of $18,894, the best of the weekend for any film.
The bigger test of the movie's strength, based on the life of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, comes next weekend when it expands into a total of 600 theaters or more. The epics stars Tony Leung opposite Zhang Ziyi, and made its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival this year. The Weinstein Co. acquired distribution rights to the film from Megan Ellison's Anapurna Pictures.
Grandmaster did best at the AMC Empire theater in New York City, a promising sign for the film's expansion, since the theater plays to both a commercial and arthouse audience. Otherwise, the film played in arthouse theaters. In recent days, Harvey Weinstein's company recruited Martin Scorsese and Samuel L. Jackson to present Wong's latest offering.
Grandmaster certainly fared the best of the new films opening in limited runs.
Festival favorite Short Term 12, from director Destin Daniel Cretton, opened to $60,137 from four locations for a location average of $15,034. Cinedigm is releasing the film in the U.S.
French drama Therese, starring Audrey Tautou and based on Francois Mauriac's novel, opened to a dismal $21,040 from six theaters for a location average of $3,507. Distributed in the U.S. by MPI Media, Therese was the closing night film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Among holdovers, Keri Russell starrer Austenland continued to struggle in its second weekend as it expanded into a total of 23 theaters. Produced by author Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame, the female-skewing movie grossed $125,978 from 23 theaters for a location average of $5,477 and cume of $185,471. Sony Pictures Classics acquired rights to the film, about a woman who travels to a Jane Austen theme park in England, during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where the movie sparked a bidding war.