Box Office (Specialty): 'The Book Thief' Overcomes Mixed Reviews to Post $27,000 Average

The Nazi drama -- from "Downton Abbey" director Brian Percival -- scores the top location average of the weekend; "The Armstrong Lie" could use box office enhancing drugs.

Word of mouth propelled Fox 2000's The Book Thief to a solid opening at the North American box office despite mixed reviews.

The Nazi drama, from Downton Abbey director Brian Percival and based on Markus Zusak's novel, grossed $108,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $27,000, the best of the weekend.

The movie got off to a soft start Friday but recovered to some degree when traffic shot up 80 percent on Saturday, compared to the expected 40 to 45 percent. "Word of mouth is clearly kicking in," said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.

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The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse) when she goes to live with her German foster parents (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson), who harbor a young Jewish refugee after World War II breaks out.

The drama will slowly expand and be playing in roughly 400 to 500 theaters by Thanksgiving weekend.

The weekend's other high-profile opening was The Armstrong Lie, Alex Gibney's documentary about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. The film fared poorly in its debut, grossing a tepid $20,904 from five theaters -- including one in Austin, Armstrong's hometown -- for a location average of $6,181. Sony Pictures Classics is distributing the film domestically.

Among holdovers, Focus Features' awards contender Dallas Buyers Club did solid business in its second weekend, grossing $692,038 as it expanded into a total of 35 theaters for a location average of $17,973 and cume of nearly $1 million. The AIDS pharmaceutical drama stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

Roadside Attractions' All Is Lost, directed by J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford, continued to hold its own as it expanded into a total of 401 theaters, grossing $1.2 million for a domestic total of $2.9 million.