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Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy Comedy ‘St. Vincent’ Connects in Limited Box-Office Debut

It plays younger than expected and averages $30K on four screens. Miles Teller’s ”Whiplash“ averages nearly $24K on six

The Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy comedy “St. Vincent” is off to a good start at the specialty box office, and played younger than might be expected.

The Weinstein Company opened the Chernin Entertainment comedy in two New York and two Los Angeles theaters and it brought in $121,054 for a per-screen average of $30,263.

Also opening strongly was the Miles Teller jazz drumming tale “Whiplash,” which took in $143,503 from six theaters for Sony Pictures Classics. That’s a $23,917 per-screen average for writer-director Damien Chazelle’s Sundance hit about a music student and his abusive teacher, played by J.K. Simmons.

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The big Friday-Saturday jump – 67 percent – for “St. Vincent” was encouraging for TWC distribution chief Erik Lomis, as were solid exit polls and the demographic breakdown.

The audience was 60 percent women and 38 percent under the age of 35. It’s only one weekend and four theaters, but the former number suggests that women were drawn by the presence of McCarthy, and the latter suggests it could play well with younger audiences.

“Women scored this film higher than any other group,” said Lomis. “This is a really satisfying movie that can really touch people, and we think it’s going to play and play.”

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He said TWC will expand “St. Vincent” into 25 new markets and add about 60 theaters next week before going nationwide the following weekend.

The Jeremy Renner thriller “Kill the Messenger” disappointed, taking in $939,000 from 374 theaters for Focus Features. That’s a soft $2,511 per-screen average for the fact-based tale of a reporter who uncovers CIA secrets while covering the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. Michael Cuesta (TV’s “Homeland”) directed.

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Two high-profile films failed to gain traction in their second weeks.

Reese Witherspoon’s “The Good Lie” remained in 461 theaters and took in $550,000, a soft $1,193 per-screen average and a 35 percent drop from last week for the Warner Bros. release.

Meanwhile, Jason Reitman‘s “Men, Women and Children” added 11 locations and tallied $44,000 from 28 theaters. That’s a weak $1,193 per-screen average for the Paramount drama, which has an ensemble cast that includes Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer and Ansel Elgort.

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