Edward Snowden Doc ‘Citizenfour’ Impresses at Specialty Box Office

Laura Poitras’ film about domestic spying averages $25K in debut at five theaters for Radius

Last Updated: October 26, 2014 @ 5:02 PM

The Edward Snowden documentary “Citizenfour” is off to a sizzling start at the specialty box office.

Laura Poitras’ documentary about the U.S. National Security Agency’s massive domestic and international spying program opened to $125,172 in five theaters over the weekend. That’s a very strong $25,721 per-theater average.

The debut by “Citizenfour” had Tom Quinn, co-president at the Weinstein Company’s niche label Radius, gushing.

Also read: Edward Snowden Doc Director on Taking ‘Staggering’ Risks, Angering Powerful People

“As one of the most transcendent, historic and thrilling pieces of cinema I’ve ever come across. I see no limits in how far we can take this,” he said.

Poitras is no stranger to controversial material. She made the Oscar-nominated 2006 documentary “My Country, My Country,” about the cost of the Iraq war on U.S. troops and Iraqis. That landed her on a government watch list, but also led Snowden to seek her out when he wanted to spill the beans on the spying program.

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Also debuting impressively in five theaters was Lynn Shelton‘s romantic comedy “Laggies.”

Starring Keira Knightley as a woman who returns home for her high school reunion and finds very little in her life has changed, “Laggies” brought in $78,500 for a $15,684 per-theater average for the A24 release.

Also read: ‘Laggies’ Review: Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz Star in an Exceptional Comedy

Chloe Garce Moretz and Sam Rockwell co-star in “Laggies,” which will open nationwide on Nov. 7.

Two films in their second week  — “Birdman” and “Dear White People” — both expanded successfully.

Fox Searchlight took “Birdman,” the dark comedy starring Michael Keaton, from four to 50 theaters and the Oscar hopeful directed by Alejandro Iñárritu brought in $1.43 million. That’s a very strong $28,700 per-theater average for the film, which has taken in $2 million in 10 days of limited release.

Also read: ‘Dear White People’ Takes Marketing Cue From Itself to Start Fast at Box Office

“Dear White People” went from 11 to 386 theaters in an aggressive play by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate, and the satirical comedy written and directed by Justin Simien took in $1,313,725 for a strong $3,403 average.