Arthouse Audit: 'Blue Valentine' Out-Pumps 'Heart Specialist'
After increasing its theater count from 40 to 230, Blue Valentine easily led all limited releases over the four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Newcomer The Heart Specialist was relatively lifeless, though it managed to edge out Bollywood movie Yamla Pagla Deewana by opening in five times as many locations. Further down the chart, Barney's Version had a solid initial session on the same weekend where it received a surprise award victory.

Blue Valentine earned $1.7 million for the four-day period, bringing its total to $3.2 million. Despite more than doubling its total from last weekend, it actually dipped from 16th to 17th on the overall weekend chart. With a decent per-theater average of $6,029, the movie's chances of substantial further expansion will likely be based on whether or not stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams earn Academy Award nominations next Tuesday.

Originally announced as a nationwide release, the long-delayed The Heart Specialist debuted to $581,516 at 422 locations for a low per-theater average of $1,378. Distributor Freestyle Releasing attributed the lethargic start to inclement weather in the northeast along with major playoff football games distracting their core audience, though the light marketing campaign surely played a part as well.

Yamla Pagla Deewana actually beat The Heart Specialist for the three-day period but fell behind on Monday, earning $563,042 at 84 venues. While it's far from the genre highs reached last year, the dramatic comedy's opening was a step in the right direction after months of poor showings for Bollywood movies.

Rabbit Hole and Somewhere each tripled their theater counts, though Rabbit Hole increased its audience by a more substantial amount. The Nicole Kidman-Aaron Eckhart drama was up 200 percent to $330,152 at 100 locations, while Somewhere improved by 85 percent to $301,473 at 53 theaters. Since opening in December, both movies have earned just north of $1 million.

Barney's Version led the way among the rest of the weekend's new releases with an estimated $85,200 at four theaters. Its $21,300 per-theater average was tops among all movies this weekend and portends decent potential. The movie also received some major publicity this weekend when star Paul Giamatti accepted the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Look for Sony Picture Classics to expand Barney's Version significantly in the coming weeks.

Comedy-drama Every Day landed much further down the chart with $11,633 at three locations. Kino International's re-release of 1925's Battleship Potemkin earned $7,403 at one theater, while martial arts import Ong Bak 3 debuted to $7,094 at three venues. Finally, documentary Plastic Planet earned a meager $889 at one theater.

Last Arthouse Audit

'Blue Valentine' Basks Atop Limited Releases

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