Zach Braff’s ‘Wish I Was Here’ Decent in Debut, but ‘Boyhood’ Steals Show at Specialty Box Office

Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making tale averages a strong $35,230 in expansion to 34 theaters for IFC

Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded “Wish I Was Here’ opened in 68 theaters and did decent this weekend, but Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” stole the show at the specialty box office with a very strong second week.

Expanding from five to 34 theaters, “Boyhood” brought in nearly $1.2 million for an impressive $35,230 per-screen average, according to distributor IFC Films.

“This film is the real deal,” said Mark Boxer, sr. vice-president of sales and distribution at IFC. “It’s at 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and the word of mouth is through the roof as reflected by eye-popping exit polls this weekend and minimal drop at last weekend’s opening theaters.”

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“Boyhood,” which Linklater wrote and directed over a period of 12 years, follows a young boy as he goes from preschool to high school graduation. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke co-star as the parents of newcomer Ellar Coltrane; the cast and crew reconvened for a few weeks each year to shoot new scenes, which were then assembled into a casual but singular portrait of a life.

Focus Features rolled out “Wish I Was Here” in 69 theaters and it brought in $495,000 for a $7,279 per-screen average. That’s not great, but not bad for a film that isn’t well-reviewed (37 percent Rotten Tomatoes) and has endured some controversy over Braff’s high-profile crowd-funding campaign.

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“Wish I Was Here” stars Braff, who co-wrote with his brother Adam, as a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity. Donald Faison, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons, Ashley Greene, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin and the late James Avery co-star. It made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Wish I Was Here” is Braff’s second feature, following “Garden State” in 2004, which took in $26 million.

Fox Searchlight opened the drama “I Origins” on four theaters in New York and Los Angeles and it took in $28,700 for a per-screen average of nearly $7,200.

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“I Origins” was written and directed by Mike Cahill and stars Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Steven Yeun in the story of a molecular biologist whose study of the human eye leads to implications regarding our scientific and spiritual beliefs.

The plan is to add 18 markets and expand in NY and LA, bringing the theater count to 60-70 locales.

Elsewhere, “Begin Again” took in $2.7 million after the Weinstein Company expanded it from 939 to 1,302 theaters. That’s a $2,121 per-location average for the romantic musical comedy starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine. Its domestic total is at $9.4 million.

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Open Road’s Jon Favreau food truck comedy “Chef” crossed the $25 million mark in its 11th weekend. The only other indie film to do that this year is “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” “Chef” added $1.1 million from 552 theaters, just a 10 percent drop from last week, and has now grossed $25.9 million.

The Dinesh D’Souza documentary “America” added $1.7 million from 1,030 theaters for distributor Lionsgate. That lifts the domestic total for the year’s highest-grossing documentary to $11.4 million.