'The Descendants' has faster start than 'Juno,' 'Slumdog,' 'Black Swan'
The box-office results are early, but so far "The Descendants" is off to a faster start than any of Fox Searchlight's three biggest hits, eclipsing the $10-million mark faster than "Black Swan," "Juno" and "Slumdog Millionaire." Attendance for Alexander Payne's film has been so strong across the country that the studio this weekend is adding nearly 600 locations to the film's release, about 50% more theaters than was initially planned.
The returns are being driven not just by big art-house markets such as Los Angeles and New York. Among the Top 10 locations for "The Descendants" last weekend, the list included cinemas in Palm Springs, Phoenix and Seattle. "It's really the word of mouth on the film" that's behind the grosses, said Steve Gilula, president of Fox Searchlight. "The vast, vast majority of people love the movie. And it's playing well in cities, suburbs and small cities. There's no geographic limitation."
"The Descendants" crossed the $10-million mark in its 12th day of limited release, quicker than "Black Swan" (its 16th day of release), "Juno" (22nd day of release) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (39 days). The studio said "The Descendants" crossed the $10-million mark even faster than "Precious," "No Country for Old Men" and "American Beauty."
Payne's movie has so far grossed about $13 million, leaving it far behind "Juno" ($143.5 million overall), "Slumdog Millionaire" ($141.3 million) and "Black Swan" ($107 million). If "The Descendants" continues to draw awards attention, including a possible best picture and best actor Oscar nomination for George Clooney, the drama about a disconnected dad could play into the spring.
Photo: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Merie Wallace