Juno: Youth Comedy Finds Its Audience

Several specialized films, all awards contenders found their stride at theaters during the holiday frame, including Fox Searchlight’s “Juno,” which was the fifth highest grossing film of the New Year’s weekend.

Meanwhile, “Atonement” remained strong and “There Will Be Blood” had a great bow on only a few screens.

“Juno” saw an estimated three-day weekend gross of $10.6 million and a five-day gross of $15.7 million from 998 runs, according to Rentrak. Cume is $31 million through New Year’s Day. Picture registered an impressive weekend-to-weekend bump of 209% on the same theater count.

According to Searchlight head Peter Rice, the film recorded the best weekend haul ever for a crossover specialty release, besting “Brokeback Mountain,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Sideways.”

“It’s playing well all over the country,” Rice said. “Two of our highest-grossing theaters are in Ohio and Minneapolis.”

Searchlight will add another 900 theaters this weekend.

Another specialty title keeping up momentum is Focus Features’ “Atonement,” which posted a per-screen average of $10,058 over the weekend, grossing an estimated $3.1 million from 310 runs.

Picture grossed an estimated $4.9 million for the five days; cume is $13 million.

Paramount Vantage reported strong opening numbers for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Daniel Day Lewis starrer “There Will Be Blood.” The film, co-produced by Vantage and Miramax, opened in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles and logged a whammo per-location average of $95,370–the highest of 2007–as it grossed an estimated $190,739 over the weekend.

The film’s five-day gross is an estimated $297,655. Cume is $421,833 in its seven days since opening December 26, 2007.

Vantage distribution topper Rob Schulze said the specialty unit also held sneaks of the movie over the weekend in 14 markets, garnering strong reaction. This weekend, the film will expand to 50 theaters in 10 markets.

The Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” passed the $40 million mark over the weekend, marking the brothers’ highest gross to date. The film, in its eighth frame, grossed an estimated $2.2 million from 960 theaters. The five-day take is an estimated $3.4 million; cume is $42.2 million.