CATEGORIES Comedy, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Independent, Romance, ThinkFilm, Box Office, Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, The Weinstein Co., Religious, Cinematical Indie, UK Box Office, Cinematical, UK Box OfficeSurprise! Jason Reitman's Juno, the most buzzed about teen pregnancy comedy of the fall, hauled in an overwhelming take of $60,000 per screen at seven theaters in New York and Los Angeles, according to estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo, easily topping the indie box office chart. It got a head start by opening on Wednesday, but it actually began building momentum when it screened at Telluride more than three months ago. Critical response has been nearly unanimous (93% positive per Rotten Tomatoes), with our own Kim Voynar leading the hosannas. Juno will be opening wide soon, so it will be interesting to see if it can cross over to mainstream acceptance.
Also widely praised since its debut at Venice, Atonement scored very well with a per-screen average of $25,531 at 32 theaters in major markets. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in director Joe Wright's adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel. Christopher Hampton scripted the screen version of an epic period romance. Cinematical's James Rocchi participated in a roundtable interview with McAvoy; you can read McAvoy's thoughts on Atonement and much more.
Other indies struggled to find audiences. Grace is Gone, starring John Cusack as a father having trouble telling his daughters that their mother has been killed, had the highest profile, but earned just $3,500 per screen at four theaters. Long on the shelf, The Amateurs may be heading quickly to DVD; despite the presence of Jeff Bridges and Ted Danson, it managed to earn only $4,000 per screen at three theaters in Los Angeles and Dallas. Bridges did all he could to publicize the film; he and Danson participated in a junket, which our own Patrick Walsh just wrote about, and was present for a post-screening Q&A on Friday night in Dallas.
Also debuting over the weekend: Maurice Jamal's comedy Dirty Laundry ($7,700 per-screen at two theaters), Paul Schrader's Washington drama The Walker ($5,533 per screen at three theaters), Guy Ritchie's crime drama Revolver ($2,316 per screen at 18 theaters) and David Wall's religious drama Noelle ($802 per screen at 203 theaters).