Box Office (Specialty): Alexander Payne's 'Nebraska' Boasts Solid Start

10:20 AM PST 11/17/2013 by Pamela McClintock

The critically acclaimed film nabs the top location average of the weekend; "Charlie Countryman" bombs, marks worst start of Shia LaBeouf's career.

The long lead-up to the release of Alexander Payne's bittersweet dramedy Nebraska paid off as the critically acclaimed film and awards contender opened to solid numbers in New York and Los Angeles.

Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, grossed $140,000 from four theaters for a location average of $35,000, the best of the weekend. The film didn't start out as large as some of Payne's other films, but it also is the first movie he has shot in black and white.

Produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sushine), Nebraska made its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Dern won the coveted best actor award. Paramount and the producers used Cannes and other festival screenings to build critical support and word of mouth.

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A Paramount Vantage release, Paramount's partners on Nebraska are FilmNation, Blue Lake Media and Echo Lake Entertainment, along with Yerxa and Berger's Bona Fide. The film, a passion project for Payne, cost $12 million to produce and will expand into an additional 10 markets on Nov. 22. June Squibb, Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk also star.

From a script by Bob Nelson, Nebraska tells the story of a cantankerous father who thinks he's struck it rich and embarks on a road trip with his son across America's heartland to claim his fortune.

Fredrik Bond's action comedy Charlie Countryman, starring Shia LaBeouf, bombed in its debut, grossing $8,579 from 15 theaters for a location average of $572. The poorly reviewed film, distributed by Millennium, marks the worst opening of LaBeouf's career so far.

Charlie Countryman also stars Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint, Mads Mikkelsen and Til Schweiger.

Faith-based pic The Christmas Candle, based on the book by Max Lucado, saw OK results in its debut, grossing $75,584 from five theaters for a location average of $15,117.

Italian film The Great Beauty, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, opened to $23,000 in one theater in New York.

Among holdovers, Fox's The Book Thief expanded into a total of 29 theaters in nine markets in its second weekend, grossing $425,000 for a location average of $14,655, the top average of any film in the top 20. The film's domestic total is $568,518.

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