Jodie Foster took command of the U.S. box office last weekend, as her thriller The Brave One brought in $14 million.
The Warner Brothers movie attracted both men and women with its R-rated theme of vigilante justice. Its modest tally is about right for this time of year, when summer blockbusters make way for smaller, more serious film fare. "After the summer, your midweek business drops substantially and you become a weekend business," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros. "You need strong reviews to keep your motor going."
Three smaller films with Oscar ambitions finished out of the Top 10 last weekend, but still did well in limited distribution. David Cronenberg's Russian mob thriller Eastern Promises had a per-screen average of $36,845 playing on 15 screens.
Julie Taymor's Beatles-inspired Across The Universe enjoyed a per-screen average of $29,783, while the Iraq war film In The Valley Of Elah had a per-screen average of $15,333 on nine screens.
"We could be talking about all three of these films come Oscar time," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "The per-screen average indicates the intensity with which people are interested in these films and deservedly so. This is what the fall is all about."