‘Victoria and Abdul’ Leads Indie Box Office as Awards Season Kicks Off

“Stronger” and “Battle of the Sexes” also got releases this weekend

The indie box office got its biggest jolt in quite some time this weekend, as three releases from Toronto had limited rollouts. Leading the way was Focus Features’ “Victoria and Abdul,” which made $152,000 from four screens for the top per screen average of the weekend with $37,933.

The period piece stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal as Queen Victoria and Indian clerk Abdul Karim and explores the pair’s unlikely friendship during the later years of the British monarch’s rule. Stephen Frears directed from a script by Lee Hall, with Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Beeban Kidron and Tracey Seaward producing. The film has a 65 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also performing very well in limited release is Fox Searchlight’s “Battle of the Sexes,” which made $525,000 from 21 screens this weekend for a PSA of $25,000. The film stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and follows their famous inter-gender tennis match and the personal struggles they faced in the lead-up to the match. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris directed from a script by Simon Beaufoy, with Danny Boyle, Christian Colson and Robert Graf producing. The film has an 86 percent RT score and will release wide next weekend.

Getting a wider release this weekend is Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions’ “Stronger,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing who lost both legs in the attack. The film was released on 574 screens and made a solid $1.75 million. David Gordon Green directed from a script by John Pollono, Gyllenhaal produced with Michel Litvak, Scott Silver, Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman. The film has received critical acclaim since its Toronto premiere, earning 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Among holdovers, Amazon/Annapurna’s “Brad’s Status” expanded to 453 screens and added $1 million in its second weekend, bringing its total to $1.11 million. Meanwhile, IFC’s “The Trip to Spain” crossed the $1 million mark after seven weekends in theaters, earning $34,742 from 59 screens this weekend.