As "Men in Black 3" knocked "Marvel's The Avengers" off its record-breaking throne and nabbed the title of #1 film in America over Memorial Day weekend, Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" broke its own box-office records. The Wes Anderson-directed film, which opened in two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles, grossed more than $669,000 this weekend. It raked in an average of $130,752 per location, setting a new record previously held by 2006's "Dreamgirls."
"Wes Anderson films always open in limited release with very high averages as his fanbase is very loyal," says Box Office Guru editor Gitesh Pandya, "but the 'Moonrise Kingdom' numbers were eye-popping. You'd think Iron Man was in the film."
Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations also attributes the success to Anderson's "ardent" fanbase.
"[His fans] have seen him produce just a handful of films over the course of his entire career, which began with 1996's 'Bottle Rocket.' Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and 'Moonrise Kingdom' is Anderson's first live-action film in five years, so there was no doubt a burning desire to see his latest whimsical dramedy," he says. "Filmmakers with unique and authentic voices are far and few between, and Anderson is something of a national treasure for the hipster collective."
"Moonrise Kingdom" takes place in the summer of 1965 and follows the search for two 12-year-olds who flee their hometown in New England for a wilderness adventure. The film's success follows its debut in Cannes, France, where it opened the city's famous film festival. Bock believes its premiere at such a large venue contributed to the buzz, keeping it in the mind of audiences — despite an influx of blockbusters hitting cinemas around the globe.
"There is always room for a small, original tale amongst the blockbuster giants of summer, and 'Moonrise Kingdom' may just be this summer's 'Midnight in Paris,' " he said, referencing the Woody Allen film that won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. "The big test for ['Moonrise'] will be when it debuts in moderate wide release (400-plus theaters), reaching smaller markets that probably haven't seen a film of his since his biggest hit, 2001's 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' which grossed $52 million. While Anderson's films are revered by critics and cinephiles, wide audiences haven't exactly embraced the kooky sensibilities and eccentric outlook he emotes in his films."
But Phil Contrino of BoxOffice.com believes an A-list cast including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton will help bring the film to a broader audience — though he does think widespread popularity may be limited.
"If you don't like Wes by now, this movie won't change your mind," Contrino said. "He's burrowed very deep into his own style eccentricities."
"Moonrise Kingdom" was too late to earn any Movie Awards nominations at this year's show, but tune in this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET to celebrate your other favorite films, including "Hunger Games," "Bridesmaids" and the final "Harry Potter" film.