Independent Box Office: ‘Stoker’ Debuts to $22K Average

“Stoker,” the psychological thriller from director Park Chan-wook, averaged an impressive $22,689 per theater in its specialty box-office debut this weekend.

Fox Searchlight released the film, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman, in seven theaters and its grossed $158,822 over the three days. In "Stoker," a mysterious and charming man comes to live with a young woman and her unstable mother after her father dies.

Also read: 'Jack the Giant Slayer' $28M Box Office Is Beans Compared to Budget

Also debuting was “Leviathan,” the documentary about the commercial fishing trade in the North Atlantic. It took in $10,018 on one screen at New York's IFC Center, distributor Cinema Guild reported.

Tribeca Films' “War Witch,” the Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominated tale of a 14-year-old African girl telling her unborn child the story of her life amid a war, opened to $10,260 on two theaters.

Also opening was "Hava Nagila," a documentary on the history, mystery, and meaning of the ubiquitous Jewish standard that follows the around-the-world journey of the song from Ukraine to Youtube. Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis and Leonard Nimoy appear in the film, which took in $9,521 from a single New York theater for International Film Circuit.

The Weinstein Company expanded “Quartet,” Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut set in a retirement home for musicians, from 356 theaters to 725. It took in $1.7 million, an average of $2,428 and raised its domestic total after eight weeks to $8.9 million.

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‘A Place at the Table’ Ticket Sales to Help Feed Children in Need (Video)

"A Place at the Table," a documentary produced by Participant Media and distributed by Magnolia Pictures, will do more than just explain America's hunger crisis. The movie's opening-weekend ticket and digital sales will provide food for children affected by it.

Plum Organics has partnered with the two film companies behind the doc, as well as the Perseus Books Group, to donate one organic "Super Smoothie" pouch to a baby or toddler in need for every ticket, online download and copy of the companion book or e-book purchased March 1-3.

Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush directed the documentary, which follows three people struggling with food insecurity in America. It includes interviews with Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

“At Plum, we believe each and every little one in our country deserves to be nourished to his or her full potential,” Neil Grimmer, CEO of the organic baby-food producer said. “'A Place at the Table' illustrates how we as a nation are falling short on this basic commitment to our children. We're excited to provide people with the opportunity to take one action against food insecurity by helping us donate a Super Smoothie to a baby or toddler in need."

Here's the trailer:

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Roadside Attractions, Sony Acquire Lake Bell’s ‘In a World’

Roadside Attractions has acquired domestic distribution rights to “In a World,” the directorial debut of actress Lake Bell that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has taken the international rights.

Bell also wrote the movie and won Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screen Writing Award for her script. Past winners of that award include Christopher Nolan for "Memento" and Noah Baumbach for "The Squid and the Whale."

The tale immerses the viewer in the world of movie trailer voice-over artists, as Carol (Bell) competes against a series of men to voice the new trailer of a blockbuster trilogy. The trailers are known for their catchphrase, "In a world…"

Also Read: Sundance Awards: 'Fruitvale,' 'Blood Brother' Sweep Top Prizes 

Ken Marino and Rob Corddry, Bell's co-stars in Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital," star in the movie, as does Fred Melamed.

“In a world where everyone loves a good laugh, Lake’s film represents the introduction of a major new comedic voice — a 21st Century Carole Lombard,” Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside, said in a statement. “We think audiences around the country are going to love it as much as we and the audiences at Sundance did.”

Roadside, which was an aggressive buyer at the Toronto Film Festival, stayed out of the fray for most of Sundance. Cohen made this deal with UTA and plans a summer 2013 release. A troika of Sony executives negotiated on the studio's behalf.

Eddie Vaisman and Mark Roberts of 3311 Productions produced "In a World" alongside Jett Steiger and Bell. 3311's Sean O'Grady and Ross Jacobson executive produced.

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Relativity Snatches Up Pablo Escobar Script, ‘Silver or Lead’

Relativity Media announced on Tuesday that it has picked up the rights to "Silver or Lead," a screenplay by Piers Ashworth, which tracks the manhunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Enrique Urbizu is attached to direct the story of how General Hugo Martinez risked his life as the head of  the elite task force responsible for bringing the godfather of the Medellín cartel to justice for his crimes. The film's title is derived from the antagonist's famous phrase, "Plata o Plomo," meaning take his silver or take his lead.

Also read: Relativity Media and MediaWeaver Sign Production Deal

Relativity, which will produce in partnership with Atmosphere Entertainment MM, has already secured Martinez's life rights, as well as those of DEA agent Joe Toft, who was also involved in the pursuit, capture and death of Escobar in 1993.

Simon Strong's award-winning book “Whitewash: Pablo Escobar and the Cocaine Wars" was acquired by Relativity to provide the source material for Ashworth's script, which he developed from an original draft by Michael Kane.

Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley will serve as producers on their project with Mark Canton, Donald Kushner and Leigh Ann Burton. Atmosphere’s David Hopwood will co-produce.

“Relativity is proud to attract such a dynamic team to help tell Pablo Escobar’s life story. We have been fans of Enrique’s award-winning work and Piers’ powerful script and are thrilled to have them on board," Tooley said in a statement. "This has been a long coveted project and we look forward to working with people who are as passionate about the story as Mark, Donald, and Leigh Ann.”

This is the second Escobar-related feature film of late to come to fruition. Benicio Del Toro is attached to play portray the infamous criminal in writer/director Andrea di Stefano's "Paradise Lost," which stars Josh Hutcherson as a young surfer who falls for Escobar's niece.

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Cuban Women Filmmakers to Make Groundbreaking U.S. Trip

Four prominent Cuban female filmmakers will screen their films in the United States as part of a tri-city program to promote the work of Cuban women and empower women in the film industry. A bevy of organizations, including the Women In Film Internatio...

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Dominates the Indie Spirit Awards

(See TheWrap's Complete Oscars Coverage)

The Film Independent Spirit Awards embraced the mainstream hit over the scrappy indie on Saturday afternoon, with David O Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” winning the Best Feature award in a field that also included the Sundance sensation and Oscar nominee “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

With additional wins for director, screenplay and lead actress (Jennifer Lawrence), the show marked a triumphant return for writer-director David O. Russell, who won the Spirit Award for Best First Feature 19 years ago for his debut, “Spanking the Monkey.”

“Silver Linings Playbook,” which is up for eight Academy Awards at Sunday’s Oscars show, became the second consecutive Spirit Awards winner for the Weinstein Company, which also released last year’s Spirit and Oscar champ, “The Artist.”

The eligibility of both films was questioned when they were nominated; “The Artist” was made by French director Michel Hazanavicus and its two lead actors were French, which would have put it in the International Film category had its not qualified because of its director’s permanent residency status.

With a reported budget of $21 million, “Silver Linings Playbook” is $1 million over the stated limit for Spirit Awards qualifying, but the jury that decides nominations has the discretion to add films that don’t fall within the strict limits.

Also read: Oscar PowerGrid Face-off: Jessica Chastain vs. Jennifer Lawrence

Other nominees for the top prize included Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” and Ira Sachs’ “Keep the Lights On.”

Since 2000, 10 of the 13 Spirit Awards winners, and nine of the last 10, have also been Best Picture nominees at the Oscars – though only “The Artist” has won both awards, leading to the phrase “win on Saturday, lose on Sunday.”

The "SLP" producers said they expected that the Spirit Award would go to "Beasts of the Southern Wild." "We were sure that we were going to lose today, and we're sure we're going to lose tomorrow [at the Oscars]," said producer Bruce Cohen in the press room afterwards.

“Beasts,” which drew loud applause in the room every time it was mentioned, did not go home empty-handed. It won an award for Ben Richardson's cinematography.

And Russell's film didn't completely run the table: John Hawkes won the Lead Actor role for "The Sessions" over Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings."

Matthew McConaughey won the Supporting Male award for playing the strip-club owner in "Magic Mike," and began his speech by crooning, "I had to take my pants off to win a trophy."

Helen Hunt, the one Oscar nominee in her category, won the Supporting Female award for her role as a sex therapist in "The Sessions."

Michael Haneke's "Amour," a prohibitive favorite for the Oscars' foreign-language award, was named Best International film. The 70-year-old Haneke, who just arrived in town from directing an opera in Madrid, said "I think I'm the oldest man in the room."

Kirby Dick's and Amy Ziering's "The Invisible War" was named Best Documentary.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was named Best First Feature, while Derek Connolly won the first award of the night, Best First Screenplay, for "Safety Not Guaranteed." Connolly appeared sedated during a long, rambling acceptance speech that drew hoots from the audience, and ended when actor Bryan Cranston came onstage and poured Connolly a shot of whiskey. 

A few minutes later, Connolly was escorted out of the Spirit Awards tent by security.

The show also presented some awards that had previously been announced. The Robert Altman Award, which goes to a film's director, casting director and ensemble cast, went to Sean Baker's "Starlet."

Four sponsored awards, which come with cash grants, were given to Mynette Louie for "Stones in the Sun," Adam Leon for "Gimme the Loot," Peter Nicks for "The Waiting Room" and Laura Colella for "Breakfast With Curtis."

The show was hosted by Andy Samberg, whose tepidly-received monologue included the observation that it is "the only awards ceremony watched by more people at the actual show than on television."

It will be televised on IFC at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Best Feature: “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Director: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Screenplay: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best First Feature: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Best First Screenplay: Derek Connolly, “Safety Not Guaranteed”
John Cassavetes Award (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000): "Middle of Nowhere"
Best Female Lead: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Male Lead: John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Best Supporting Female: Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
Best Supporting Male: Matthew McConaughey, "Magic Mike"
Best Cinematography: Ben Richardson, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Documentary: "The Invisible War"
Best International Film: "Amour,"  Michael Haneke
Robert Altman Award (Given to one film's director, casting director, and its ensemble cast):
“Starlet”
Director: Sean Baker
Casting Director: Julia Kim
Ensemble Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone

Piaget Producers Award: “Stones in the Sun,” Mynette Louie
Someone to Watch Award: “Gimme the Loot,” Adam Leon
Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award: “The Waiting Room,” Peter Nicks
Jameson Find Your Audience Award: “Breakfast With Curtis,” Laura Colella

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Sundance Selects Picks Up Alexandre Moors’ ‘Blue Caprice’

Sundance Selects has acquired the North American and Latin American rights to Alexandre Moors’ "Blue Caprice," the company announced on Tuesday.

Moors' directorial debut investigates the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks from the point of view of the two killers, John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo.

Isaiah Washington stars as Muhammad; Tequan Richmond plays Malvo.

Also read: Beltway Sniper Film ‘Blue Caprice’ at Sundance: ‘Killers Aren’t Born, They’re Made’

The drama, set to open Film Society of Lincoln Center and MOMA’s 2013 New Directors/New Films Festival later this month, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

April Yvette Thompson, who has a brief part as Malvo’s mother, summarized the film's hypothesis by telling the audience at Sundance that "killers aren’t born, they’re made."

R.F.I. Porto wrote the screenplay for the film; it was produced by Isen Robbins, Aimee Schoof, Ron Simons, Stephen Tedeschi, Brian O’Carroll, Kim Jackson and Will Rowbotham.

"Alexandre Moors has made one of the most distinct and haunting American independent films of the year featuring unforgettable performances by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond," Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said in a statement. "We're thrilled to be able to release this and look forward to working with the producers and Cinetic to make this a big success.”

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