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Roger Ebert Doc ‘Life Itself’ Shows Promise in Specialty Box Office Opening

It averages $6,000 on 23 theaters for Magnolia; ”Begin Again“ expands strongly in second week for Weinstein Company

“Life Itself,” a documentary about iconic movie critic Roger Ebert, got off to a promising start at the specialty box office, and holdovers “Begin Again” and “Snowpiercer” also impressed this weekend.

Directed by Oscar nominee Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”), the film is based on Ebert’s 2011 memoir by the same name.

Distributor Magnolia Pictures debuted “Life Itself” in 23 theaters in 14 markets and it took in $138,000 for a solid $6,000 per-screen average. It was also available for viewing on digital platforms and via video on demand.

Also read: Roger Ebert Remembered in ‘Life Itself': 15 Excerpts From His Most Legendary Reviews

Magnolia’s plan is to expand by another 25 theaters next week and up to 100 theaters in two weeks.

The Weinstein Company expanded “Begin Again” from five to 175 theaters in its second week and it connected.

The musical romance starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine grossed $1.3 million for a strong $7,520 per-screen average. That was better than any film in the market except for “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Also watch: Adam Levine and Keira Knightley Make Up, Break Up in ‘Begin Again’ Lyric Clip (Video)

“It’s playing great in limited runs with very strong exit polls as it gets ready to expand nationwide next week,” TWC’s distribution chief Erik Lomis told TheWrap. “This is definitely a great choice for discerning moviegoers who are looking for quality films this summer.”

The critics are sold on the film, written and directed by John Carney. It has a glossy 95 percent positive rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Joon-ho Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” from TWC’s specialty label Radius, performed solidly in its second-week expansion. The environmental sci-fi thriller brought in $998,325 from 250 theaters, up from eight, for a $3,872 per-screen average.

Also read: Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ Tries to Turn Up Box-Office Heat in Crowded Comedy Kitchen

Open Road’s Jon Favreau foodie comedy “Chef” crossed the $20 million mark in its ninth week at the domestic box office. It brought in $1.6 million from 686 theaters for a $2,446 per-screen average.

That film’s not to be confused with “Le Chef,” the French import directed by Daniel Cohen and starring Jean Reno and Michael Youn. It took in $118,268 from 18 theaters for Cohen Media Group.

Janus Films’ 50th anniversary re-issue of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” opened to $160,000 from 102 theaters for a $1,569 per-screen average. The plan is to expand into 30 cities next weekend.

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