Arthouse Audit: 'Black Swan' Soars
Black Swan took center stage this weekend, scoring $1.44 million at 18 locations for what is arguably the most impressive limited debut of the year. Black Swan distributor Fox Searchlight's other major Oscar contender, 127 Hours, continued to lose steam, The King's Speech put up strong numbers again, and new releases I Love You, Phillip Morris and All Good Things had decent starts.

Black Swan's $80,212 per-theater average landed behind The King's Speech's $88,863 average last weekend, but Black Swan played at four and half times the theaters, making its feat more spectacular. The movie notched Fox Searchlight's highest per-theater average gross ever, and it ranked 21st on the all-time list (sifting out Disney animated movies, it would be in tenth place).

Black Swan also came out ahead of Up in the Air, which opened on the same weekend last year, as well as director Darren Aronofsky's last movie The Wrestler. While all of these comparisons make it seem like Black Swan is already a success, it remains to be seen how well a frightening, hyper-sexual ballet thriller can hold up outside of major cities. Black Swan is now scheduled to hit between 80 and 90 theaters this coming weekend, to expand again on Dec. 17, and then to move to over 1,000 locations Dec. 22.

127 Hours finished ahead of Black Swan overall with $1.6 million, though it averaged a middling $3,739 at 433 theaters. Through its fifth weekend, the Danny Boyle-directed movie has made $6.6 million.

Fair Game dipped 38 percent to $970,358 at 436 locations for a weak average of $2,226. While it doesn't look like the Naomi Watts-Sean Penn thriller has enough support for a nationwide release, it has earned $7.3 million thus far.

The King's Speech added two locations for a total of six but was off nine percent to $324,515. While its per-theater average of $54,086 was flashy, it's worth noting that that was down 39 percent from last weekend. In 10 days, The King's Speech has grossed $807,973.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest fell 38 percent to $243,159 at 176 locations. Through its sixth weekend, the conclusion of the Millennium trilogy has earned $4.41 million.

Aside from Black Swan, a few other noteworthy limited releases opened over the weekend. I Love You, Phillip Morris drew $112,520 at six locations for a decent $18,753 average. "Considering the behemoth that is Black Swan, who took away a nice chunk of our hipster, gay and specialty audience, we think we came through with shining colors," wrote Howard Cohen, Co-President of distributor Roadside Attractions. The Jim Carrey comedy is set to play in the Top 50 markets throughout December before a planned nationwide expansion on Jan. 7.

All Good Things, which stars Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella, debuted to $37,172 at two locations in New York City. According to distributor Magnolia Pictures, the movie has already made millions on Video-on-Demand and will soon become Magnolia's most-successful VOD release ever. Also from Magnolia, Night Catches Us caught a less impressive $13,562 at four locations.

Documentary Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie notched $10,976 at three theaters, while Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale scared up $9,281 at one location. Documentary Bhutto launched to $8,275 at two venues, and foreign drama Come Undone grossed $2,030 at one theater.

Dead Awake and Meskada, both of which star Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines's Nick Stahl, also opened this weekend, though numbers are not currently available for either release.

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