'Black Swan' has bravura debut in limited release
Director Darren Aronofsky's psycho-sexual drama about the world of competitive ballet starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis took in nearly $1.4 million from 18 theaters in eight cities, according to an estimate from distributor Fox Searchlight.
Its per-theater average of $77,459 is the second highest for any film this year, behind only last weekend's "The King's Speech." But that British drama opened at only four locations, making the debut of "Black Swan" arguably more impressive.
Its strong performance, despite negative reviews from a few prominent publications including the Los Angeles Times, demonstrates that audiences in big cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago have a strong interest in the picture. Searchlight hopes that will continue as the movie expands nationwide over the next several weeks.
"The King's Speech" also continued to play very well, taking in $325,874 at six theaters on its second weekend.
Strong performances for both movies indicate that audiences are excited for the bounty of low-budget films aiming for awards voters' attention coming out at the end of the year.
Also in limited release, the romantic comedy "I Love You Phillip Morris," starring Jim Carrey and Ewan MacGregor, had a solid if not great opening of $113,200 at six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Since debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2009, the oddball movie has had trouble making it to commercial screens, losing a distributor and pushing back its release date along the way.
"All Good Things," another film that has labored to make it into theaters, had a similarly good debut at two theaters in New York, grossing $40,000. Originally set to be released by the Weinstein Co., director Andrew Jarecki last year bought back the rights and is now putting it out through Magnolia Pictures, which already has made the fact-based murder mystery starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst available on video-on-demand.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Natalie Portman, foreground, and Mila Kunis in "Black Swan." Credit: Niko Tavernise / Fox Searchlight