Box Office: Woody Allen's 'Cafe Society' Feasts on Record 2016 Specialty Opening

Cafe Society-Still2-Photofest-H 2016

The period romantic comedy stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as young lovers in 1930s Hollywood; Stewart's second new film of the weekend, 'Equals,' bombs.

Woody Allen is once again enjoying (early) box-office success.

His newest film, Cafe Society, debuted to $355,000 from five theaters in Los Angeles and New York over the weekend for a screen average of $71,000 — the top number of any film this year and his personal best as a director since Blue Jasmine in 2013.

Allen's last two films, Irrational Man (2015) and Magic in the Moonlight (2014), both lagged after posting opening location averages of $25,045 and $24,241, respectively. (Irrational Man played in seven cinemas on its first weekend; Magic in the Moonlight, 17.)

Allen, among the world's most prolific independent filmmakers, is accustomed to seeing his box-office fortunes rise and fall. In 2011, he enjoyed the biggest success of his long career when Midnight in Paris earned $56.8 million in the U.S. and $151.1 million worldwide.

Cafe Society is no doubt being helped by strong reviews. The period romantic comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart boasts a 78 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Allen's highest since Blue Jasmine bloomed with a 91 percent rating and well ahead of Magic in the Moonlight (52 percent) and Irrational Man (44 percent.)

Also, the helmer agreed to aggressively promote Cafe Society after Amazon Studios made headlines when shelling out $15 million for rights to the film. Amazon quickly arranged for the movie — Allen's love letter to old Hollywood and also starring Steve Carell, Blake Lively and Parker Posey — to make its world premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where Allen participated in numerous press events.

Amazon partnered with Lionsgate on Cafe Society's theatrical release. (Sony Pictures Classics had released Allen's seven previous films). The big question now is how it will hold up as it expands.

“We’re really pleased about the initial weekend,” said Amazon Studios' marketing and distribution chief Bob Berney. “Woody Allen’s romantic trip to Hollywood and Manhattan of the '30s is a great film that audiences are adoring."

Cafe Society was the second new film of the weekend starring Stewart. Her sci-fi romance Equals, opposite Nicholas Hoult, bombed, grossing roughly $8,809 from three theaters.