Indie Box Office: ‘The Descendants’ Ascends to Big $1.3M Opening

Alexander Payne's movie opens at only 29 locations, but is No. 10 at the box office

Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" already had Oscar buzz. Now it has box office credibility, as well.

Even though the Fox Searchlight film opened to a limited release of 29 locations, it was No. 10 at the weekend box office, with a remarkable $1.3 million.

That's a per-screen average of more than $44,800.

The R-rated film stars George Clooney as a lawyer and land baron — and descendant of one of Hawaii's original colonists — who is selling off a large chunk of his family's beachfront land.

When his wife is badly injured in a boating accident, he has to deal with his two difficult daughters.

Also read: 'Descendants' George Clooney, Alexander Payne Say There's Hope for Adult Dramas

For the weekend, "The Descendants" beat "Paranormal Activity 3," which was in 1,402 locations, and "Footloose," which was in 1,218.

"To get into the top 10 with 29 theaters … is really an amazing accomplishment for this movie," Sheila DeLoach, Fox Searchlight's executive vice president of distribution, told TheWrap Sunday.

DeLoach said she thought the movie would take 10th place on Friday night, but she wasn't quite certain.

"I was afraid to tell the filmmakers we were in the top 10 last night because I wasn't positive," she said. "I woke up this morning and I was … thrilled."

Also opening this weekend, Sam Levinson's "Another Happy Day," an R-rated movie about a wedding weekend at a family's estate in Annapolis, opened to a soft $9,200 on two screens.

The Phase 4 release stars Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Demi Moore, Thomas Haden Church and Kate Bosworth.

The weekend's other new limited release was "The Lie," the Joshua Leonard movie that Screen Media released on one screen. The R-rated film about a man who tells a lie to get out of work grossed just $3,000.

Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight's "Martha Marcy May Marlene — the Sean Durkin film starring Elizabeth Olsen as a girl breaking away from an abusive cult — dropped slightly from 183 locations to 180, but cracked the $2 million mark. It grossed $385,000, down about 20 percent from its $481,474 performance last weekend.

Meanwhile, Magnolia Pictures continued good results with its Lars von Trier movie "Melancholia." That R-rated film starring Kirsten Dunst went from 19 screens to 56 in its second week, grossing $350,000. (The film opened to $251,174 last weekend).

"Melancholia" stars Dunst as Justine, a newlywed who suffers from profound depression. Meanwhile, the planet Melancholia is on a collision course with Earth.

Among other holdovers, Paramount Vantage's "Like Crazy" increased from 79 to 109 locations in its fourth weekend, grossing $525,000 — a 4 percent revenue bump despite a 38 percent increase in location count.

Drake Doremus directed the Sundance award-winning film about a British college student who falls in love with an American. The PG-13 movie has grossed a total of nearly $1.8 million.

And the R-rated "The Skin I Live in," Pedro Almodovar's movie about a plastic surgeon who creates a synthetic skin — and uses a patient as a guinea pig for it — grossed $283,275 in its sixth weekend.

The Sony Pictures Classics movie starring Antonio Banderas has grossed a total of $2.1 million.