Specialty Box Office: 'Atlas Shrugged III' Sees Soft Start Despite Ron Paul Cameo
Among other limited offerings, Kristen Wiig's 'Skeleton Twins' prospers, while Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy's 'Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' enjoys a solid launch
The politically charged Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt? got off to a slow start at the U.S. box office despite cameos by former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and a raft of conservative commentators.
Opening in 242 theaters in select markets, the movie grossed between $355,000 and $455,000, well behind the $1.7 million debut of Atlas Shrugged: Part I from 299 locations in April 2011. The second film, launching to $1.8 million in October 2012, isn't an apples-to-apples comparison, since it rolled out in more than 1,000 locations.
John Galt marks the final film in the Atlas Shrugged trilogy, based on Ayn Rand's popular novel of the same name, which chronicles a dystopian future caused by government overreach and a bizarre strike waged by the most productive members of society.
The theme resonates with Libertarians and conservatives, so the filmmakers reached out to Paul and some others who lean to the right. Also appearing in the movie are Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, radio host Andrew Wilkow and Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist.
Atlas Shrugged producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro in part selected this weekend to open the film because of the upcoming midterm elections.
A number of other films launched in limited runs this weekend, including Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader's dramedy The Skeleton Twins, which nabbed the top theater average of the weekend. The well-reviewed film, directed by Craig Johnson and co-starring Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell, opened to $410,000 from 15 theaters for a location average of $27,284.
The Skeleton Twins, acquired at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate, stars Wiig and Hader as twins who cheat death on the same day. It will be playing nationwide by the end of the month.
Filmmaker Ned Benson's The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, got off to a solid start as well, as it opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $77,181 for a location average of $19,295.
From The Weinstein Co., Eleanor Rigby culls from two different films (known as The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him, both of which also will be released in theaters). The ambitious undertaking tells the story of a relationship from both sides, and hopes to be a player in this year's awards race.
Following its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, British dramedy My Old Lady debuted in 11 theaters in the U.S., grossing $133,601 for a location average of $12,146. Marking the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz, My Old Lady stars Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas and Dominique Pinon. Cohen Media is handling the film domestically.