The quirky ensemble comedy brought in a stunning $800,000 for Fox Searchlight, from only two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles. That’s an eye-popping per-screen average of more than $200,000 per screen.
That’s easily the best opening weekend ever for writer-director Anderson, whose last film “Moonrise Kingdom” became a sleeper hit in 2012 after opening in four theaters with $522,000. That one went on to take in $68 million worldwide. “Grand Budapest” blew past the standard set by “The Master,” the Phillip Seymour Hoffman drama which averaged $147,000 on five theaters in 2012, and is among the top ten limited openings of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
“Grand Budapest” focuses on an urbane concierge in Europe between the two World Wars, and features Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan and Tilda Swinton. It’s a hit with critics and has a sterling 89 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Word-of-mouth clearly helped “Grand Budapest,” which was up 14 percent from its strong first-night showing Friday.
“Grand Budapest played at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and at the Landmark in L.A.; in Manhattan, it played at the Regal Union Square and the AMC Lincoln Square.
The plan for next week is to expand into 17 more markets and up the theater count to 65 or 70 theaters, Fox Searchlight’s distribution chief Frank Rodriguez told TheWrap.
“We knew the opening would be very good, but this performance is really above anyone’s expectations. This really seems to have come together because of a collaboration. Wes and his team have worked really hard to promote it, the theater owners embraced it and our publicity and marketing people hit it out of the park,” Rodriguez said. “All that and the great reviews added up to terrific weekend for us.”
Fox Searchlight was also celebrating “12 Years a Slave,” its Best Picture Oscar winner that returned to theaters and cracked the top ten with $2.1 million despite its release on DVD last week.