A 'Kingdom' of four screens
While big-budget blockbusters were dueling it out at the multiplex this weekend, an independent film quietly made history at the box office.
"Moonrise Kingdom,"Wes Anderson's quirky 1960s-set dramedy about two kids who run off into the wilderness, grossed $669,486 over the four-day Memorial Day holiday. But by Sunday, the film had already racked up a per-location average of $130,752 while playing in four theaters — the highest average ever for a non-animated film, said the film's distributor Focus Features. Previously, that record was held by 2006's "Dreamgirls," which debuted with an average of $126,317 at three cinemas.
The enthusiastically reviewed picture was the opening-night movie at the Cannes International Film Festival earlier this month. The film stars a handful of well-known veteran actors, including Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton, along with some fresh faces as the kids.
Anderson, a two-time Academy Award nominee, has had a mixed track record at the box office. His biggest hit to date was 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums," another ensemble comedy featuring the likes of Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow, which sold over $50-million worth of tickets in the U.S. But his most recent films have been less successful, including his last film, the animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which included the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep but only made $21 million.
This weekend, "Moonrise Kingdom" played in two theaters in New York and two more in Los Angeles. Focus will expand the movie to several hundred theaters through June.
— Amy Kaufman