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'The Paperboy' Is Lee Daniels' Worst Box Office Opening Weekend Performer... But Not By Much

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 8, 2012 at 7:32PM

In so-called specialty box office for the weekend... 2 films that opened Stateside on Friday, in limited release.

In so-called specialty box office for the weekend... 2 films that opened Stateside on Friday, in limited release.

First... Lee Daniels' much anticpated return to the screen, the southern thriller The Paperboy, opened on 11 screens around the USA, and managed a $102,000 gross, for a $9,300 per screen average.

Of the 3 films Daniels has directed, this one, The Paperboy, registered the worst overall box office opening number; prior to Paperboy was Precious, which opened very strong on just 18 theaters, grossing almost $1.9 million, or about $104,000 per screen average.

Before Precious was his feature film directorial debut, Shadowboxer, which opened in 22 theaters with a $103,000 gross (adjusted for inflation, about $114,000) or $4,600 average.

But while Paperboy registers as his worst opening to date (films that he directed) in terms of box office gross, Shadowboxer's per screen average on opening weekend was about half that of Paperboy, playing on twice as many screens.  

And of the 3 films, Shadowboxer received the worst reviews, with a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (39% for Paperboy, 91% for Precious).

With a per screen average of over $9,000, even though that figure isn't super, especially when compared to Precious' opening weekend per screen average, I still expect that Millenium Entertainment, the film's distributor, will expand it to a few more screens this weekend, and ride it out for as long as they can.

Despite all the controversy the film attracted prior to its release, as well as its starring cast, it doesn't appear that there's a lot of interest from audiences to see this. Shadowboxer ended up with a total box office gross of $453,000 (adjusted for inflation), and Precious grossed almost $50 million. Huge difference - 100 times bigger. I suspect The Paperboy will fall somewhere in the middle, although likely much closer to Shadowboxer's numbers than Precious'.

And as for the British adaptation of Wuthering Heights, directed by Andrea Arnold - now forever to be referred to as "the one with the black Heathcliff" (provided there aren't any other film adaptations of the novel that feature black Heathcliffs), played by James Howson - it opened in just 1 theater in the USA, and grossed $8,900 (which was also its average obviously). Not exactly setting the box office on fire, but Andrea Arnold's films tend to do a lot better overseas than they do here in the USA - those that have been released in the States anyway.

Her last film, 2010's Fish Tank, was her best USA performer, grossing over $370,000, and $2 million overseas. I expect Wuthering Heights will experience a similar fate.

Her films do tend to be reviewed very well however.

I expect Wuthering Heights will expand this weekend, but nothing dramatic.

This article is related to: The Paperboy, Wuthering Heights, Lee Daniels, James Howson

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