The fortunes of Woody Allen go up and down. Right now they're up. According to Indiewire, "Blue Jasmine," his 43 1/3 directorial work, starring Cate Blanchett as a disgraced socialite, did predictably great business this weekend, as befitting its strong critical notices. (We think it's pretty terrific.) Less predictably, it had one of the highest screen averages in history. From only six theaters, "Jasmine" grossed $612,767, translating into $102,127 per screen. Only five other films have ever done that, namely "The Master," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Dreamgirls," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Precious." And of these, only "The Master" has failed to cross the $40 million line.
It's worth noting that "Jasmine" performed slight better than Allen's biggest recent hit, "Midnight in Paris," which made a $99,834 average (also from six locations) back in 2011. Of course, that was a warm, likable word-of-mouth hit, whereas "Jasmine," while often very funny (and often very not), is a more demanding, if still enjoyable work. Regardless, it's his third film in a row to score big with audiences, washing away the recent, bitter taste of such underperformers as "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger" (to say nothing of his oft-grim output during the first half of the naughts).
All in all, it's the best limited debut of 2013, besting the $87,667 average of "Spring Breakers" earlier this year. "Jasmine" expands in the coming weeks.
As for expansions, "Fruitvale Station" and "The Way, Way Back" both went nationwide, and both succeeded, if not as spectacularly as hoped. "Fruitvale," a docudrama about Oscar Grant, an African American youth recklessly murdered by hothead police (which isn't remotely similar to events looming large in the public's awareness), went from 34 to 1,064 theaters, and grossed $4,657,000, for a fine $4,377 average. That put it in the weekend's overall top ten. Its cume, after only three weeks, stands at $6,339,316.
The all-star I-was-never-the-same-after-that-summer romp "The Way, Way Back" expanded only to 886 (from 582) and grossed $3,300,000, for an acceptable $3,725 average. Its total gross stands at $8,931,441 — just over a million dollars more than Fox Searchlight paid for it when it played Sundance.