Judging from the weekend box office estimates reported by Variety, David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises was the greatest beneficiary of positive buzz generated by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Earning $36,851 per screen, the film known alternately as "the Russian mobster movie" or "the one where Viggo Mortensen fights naked," Cronenberg's latest soared to the top of the specialty charts. You can catch up by reading the review by Cinematical's Ryan Stewart and listening to James Rocchi's interview with the director. As I noted yesterday, Eastern Promises won the People's Choice Award at TIFF.

Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, driven by the music of The Beatles, drew some of the harshest reviews of any gala presentation at TIFF, though some, like Roger Ebert and Anne Thompson of Variety, vigorously defended it. Audiences flocked to see it, to the tune of an estimated $29,783 per screen. Trailing behind in third place, another TIFF gala presentation, Paul Haggis' war-themed drama In the Valley of Elah, still averaged a strong $16,666 per location. James Rocchi was not very enthusiastic, though: "You can tell everyone involved wanted to make an important statement. What they would end up making was a fairly indifferent movie."

Two other films that screened at TIFF also opened this weekend, though neither generated much buzz coming out of the festival. Mike Cahill's comedy King of California, with Michael Douglas and Even Rachel Wood, played at five locations and averaged $7,411 at five locations. While that's not terrific, it's far better than Francois Girard's period film Silk, with Keira Knightley, which tanked, earning just $1,058 per screen at 122 locales.