Specialty box office: Docs beat Gosling and Wiig

A scene from one of the musical numbers in the grim experimental documentary "The Act of Killing." Credit: Drafthouse Films

Two thought-to-be surefire indie hits with big stars stumbled this weekend, eclipsed by two grim documentaries. First off, the good news: According to Indiewire, “The Act of Killing,” an experimental doc that hangs with members of an old Indonesian death squad, had the best non-fiction debut of the year. That’s saying something, considering past hits “The Gatekeepers,” “56 Up” and “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” all of which opened strong and had long legs. This is even more impressive given the nature of the film: The subjects are almost comically remorseless about their crimes, which involves the gory slaughter of half a million liberals and Communists between 1965 and 1966 after a failed coup. In addition to this, the film, by Joshua Oppenheimer, also includes sequences where each man interprets their killings in a genre movie format, with murder reinterpreted as a gangster film, a western, even an oversized musical. “The Act of Killing” made $28,067 from a single theater in New York City, and expands into other cities (including Philadelphia and Boston) next weekend.

Also doing very well was “Blackfish,” a controversial expose of inhumane practices by SeaWorld and other venues that hold animals in captivity. SeaWorld has fought back against the accusations, which involve multiple deaths by killer whales, but that perhaps inevitably led to greater awareness of the film. “Blackfish” $66,500 from four theaters, for a $16,625 average.

Now for the less good and pretty bad news. “Only God Forgives,” the once-heavily anticipated second joint venture from Ryan Gosling and “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn,” opened to only $315,000 from 78 theaters, for a so-so $4,039 average. Less than stellar, even hostile reviews didn’t help, nor did awareness of the rather gory and unpleasant happenings in the film (rape, mutilation, sinister karaoke).

But at least it didn’t do as poorly as “Girl Most Likely,” Kristen Wiig’s first starring role since “Bridesmaids.” Confidently opening in 353 theaters, it grossed only $736,005 for a sad $2,085 average. Again, less than stellar, even hostile reviews may have done turned people away from a film that would have otherwise coasted on name appeal.

Back to good news: “Fruitvale Station” expanded and continued to score among viewers. It jumped from 7 to 34 theaters and grossed $1,334,000, for a $21,824 average. And “The Way, Way Back,” this year’s other super-pricey Sundance pick-up, grew from 225 theaters to 304 and grossed $2,240,000, for $7,368 average. It expands nationally on Friday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…