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Independent Box Office: ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Gets Oprah Boost

Ava DuVernay’s independent drama “Middle of Nowhere” averaged an impressive $13K per screen over the weekend, the best of any film in theaters

Writer-director Ava DuVernay’s drama “Middle of Nowhere” averaged an impressive $13,000 per screen over the weekend, the best of any film in theaters.

“Middle of Nowhere” opened on six screens and brought in $78,000.

Emayatzy Corinealdi stars in the film as Ruby, a woman who drops out of medical school when her husband is sentenced to 8 years in prison, in order to focus on his well being. David Oyelowo and Lorraine Toussaint co-star in the film, which cost less than one million dollars to make.

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"Middle of Nowhere" premiered at Sundance in January and DuVernay became the first African-American to win the Directors Prize.

The film got a pre-release boost from Oprah Winfrey. She tweeted twice about the film recently and posted a message on her Facebook page, which read in part:

"Saw the film 'Middle of Nowhere.' Powerful and Poetic. It opens this weekend in NY, LA, ATL, DC and Philly. So many women — a disproportionate number of them African American women — have to cope with a spouse in jail. This movie, 'Middle of Nowhere,' poignantly represents all the drama and feelings involved. I saw the film and was so moved by it. I think you will be too."

Participant Media, which is distributing the film along with DuVernay's African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, is trying to start some Academy Award buzz on its own. The studio allowed Oscar-voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to see the film free at a theater in New York and two in Los Angeles.

The plan is to expand the release into 19 more theaters next week with runs in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Berkeley, Miami and Seattle.

There were two significant expansions this weekend.

Summit had "Perks of Being a Wallflower" in 725 locations, up from 221. The film, starring Emma Watson, averaged $2,983 per screen and brought in $2.1 million to finish No. 10 overall and raise its overall gross to $6.1 million after four weeks.

Millenium Entertainment jumped "The Paperboy" from last week's 11 theaters into 49, where it grossed $103,995. That's a soft $2,122 per-screen average for the Lee Daniels-directed erotic thriller starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack and Nicole Kidman.

The documentary "Samsara" became Oscilloscope's highest-grossing film ever. In its eighth week, the non-narrative film from Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson took in $112,944 from 48 screens, down from 52. Its overall domestic gross is at $1.8 million, well beyond that of the $1.2 million rung up by the duo's previous film, "Baraka," in 1993.

The Weinstein Co.'s "The Master" took in $823,000 after dropping from 864 to 682 theaters in its fifth weekend. That's a weak $1,207 per-screen average for Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology-inspired drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

"Arbitrage," from Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate, upped its overall domestic gross to $6.6 million with $363,350 after dropping from 245 theaters to 195. That's a $1,863 per-screen average for the film, which stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.

Loki Films' documentary "Detropia" took in $16,215 from 11 screens over the weekend, a $1,474 per-screen average.