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Independent Box Office: ‘Salinger’ Strong, ‘Winnie Mandela’ Soft in Debuts

Independent Box Office: 'Salinger' Strong, 'Winnie Mandela' Soft in Debuts

Shane Salerno's documentary about the reclusive author averages $22K on four theaters

“Salinger,” Shane Salerno‘s long-awaited documentary about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, got off to a strong start at the specialty box office.

The Weinstein Company opened it in two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles, and it brought in $90,969 for a $22,742 per-theater average. That was the best opening among a slew of small films that were released seeking to capitalize as Hollywood's summer blockbusters faded, and TWC plans to expand it into around 175 theaters in 60 markets next weekend.

TWC had hoped to release “Salinger” prior to the release of the Salerno's nine-years-in-the-making book of the same name, but it wasn't completed in time. That may actually have helped, as the docu has received a ton of publicity following its premiere in Telluride last weekend. Most of that centered on the movie's explosive claim that the reclusive author wrote five more books after going into seclusion.

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“Winnie Mandela,” starring Jennifer Hudson as the wife of South African icon Nelson Mandela (Terrance Howard), took in a soft $2,174 per-theater average with $69,584 from 32 locations for RLJ Entertainment.

It's the first of two films about the Mandelas scheduled to arrive in theaters this year. The Weinstein Company has set “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” which features British actors Idris Elba as Nelson and Naomie Harris as Winnie, for Nov. 29.

It was a busy weekend for TWC at the specialty box office. It also opened the French romantic comedy “Populaire” – about competitive speed typing – and it brought in $16,662 from three theaters for a $5,554 per-locations average.

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“Good Old Freda,” Magnolia Pictures’ documentary in which Freda Kelly looks back at her career as lifelong secretary for The Beatles, took in $8,000 from a single theaters in New York.

Magnolia also rolled out “Touchy Feely,” about a massage therapist unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact, in two theaters. It took in $4,000.

Writer-director Lynn Shelton‘s R-rated comedy premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and is her follow-up to last year's “Your Sister's Sister,” which also starred Rosemarie DeWitt.

Both the Magnolia releases were also available on video on demand.

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“The Ultimate Life,” a faith-based drama from High Top Releasing, brought in $650,000 from 412 mainly Heartland theaters for a $1,578 per-screen average. It's director Michael Landon Jr.'s follow-up to the “The Ultimate Gift” and stars Jason Bartholomew as a billionaire with questionable priorities who re-examines his life after discovering his grandfather's journal.

More to come…

  • Yeshuratnam

    My daughter’s doctoral thesis is on Salinger’s
    works. I learnt quite a lot from her about this enigmatic American author,
    Salinger.Salinger has continually enjoyed major critical and popular acclaim
    with The Catcher in the Rye (1951), the story of Holden
    Caulfield, a rebellious boarding-school student who attempts to run away from
    the adult world that he finds “phony.” In many ways reminiscent of
    Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Salinger's only
    novel finds great sympathy for its wayward child protagonist. Salinger's lasting distinction rests largely upon the enormous popularity of The Catcher in the Rye, a perennial favorite that continues to exert an indelible influence on adolescent readers a half-century after its first publication. Though widely recognized as having attained the status of a literary “classic,” Salinger's novel has endured a
    history of censorship and is still banned by some public libraries, schools,
    and parents organizations for its profanity, sexual themes, and alleged
    antisocial message. Frequently compared to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye is distinguished among critics for having captured the mood and sensibility of its era.