Fox Searchlight's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" roared out of the gate this weekend, grossing $169,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a spectacular $42,250 per-screen average.
It's an impressive start for director Benh Zeitlin's Sundance hit, the sixth-best platform release ever for a first-time filmmaker. With a cast of first-time actors, "Beasts" follows a young girl who, faced with her father's fading health and environmental changes that release an army of prehistoric creatures, leaves her Delta home in search of her mother.
The debut of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the year's third-best specialty bow, behind only "To Rome With Love" and Focus Features "Moonrise Kingdom."
Wes Anderson's tale of tween love expanded to 854 locations in its sixth week and took in $4.8 million for a $5,706 per-screen average over the three days.
Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love" expanded to 29 screens in its second week and brought in $750,348, a very impressive $25,875 per-screen average for the Sony Pictures Classic release.
Fox Searchlight plans to open "Beasts of the Southern Wild" in New Orleans on Wednesday, then Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C, Chicago, and Dallas next Friday.
Meanwhile, Searchlight's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" crossed the $40 million mark, upping its overall U.S. gross to $40.3 million with another $1 million from 534 locations. Its worldwide gross is $122.5 million.
Film District's "Safety Not Guaranteed" expaned to 164 theaters in its fourth week and made $38,000, a $2,317 per-screen average, to raise its U.S. gross to $1.6 million.