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Box office: 'Jane Eyre's' lofty numbers

The Focus Features offering starring Mia Wasikowska opens in limited release and generates the highest per-theater average of any film this year.

March 14, 2011

'Jane Eyre,' the film starring Mia Wasikowska that is based on Charlotte Brontë's novel, debuts in limited release in Los Angeles and New York and achieves the highest per-theater average box office of any film this year.

'Lofty 'Eyre'

Just like its strong-willed heroine, "Jane Eyre" is proving to be a quiet but powerful force.

The new Focus Features film based on the 19th century Charlotte Brontë novel debuted in only four theaters this weekend and generated the highest per-theater average of any film this year. The movie grossed a distributor-estimated $182,317 overall, averaging $45,579 at two theaters in Los Angeles and two more in New York.

Last year, best picture winner "The King's Speech" had the highest opening-weekend debut in limited release, with a theater average of $88,863 in November. This year, Fox Searchlight's Ed Helms comedy "Cedar Rapids" had held that record after opening to a $20,198 average in February.

"Jane Eyre's" ticket sales were driven by a broad audience, according to Focus domestic distribution President Jack Foley. An older audience filled theaters for the matinee showings, but an under-25 crowd showed up late into the evening to see the movie. The movie's receipts jumped 53% from Friday to Saturday, indicating that word of mouth on the well-reviewed "Jane Eyre" is positive.

Film adaptations of popular English literature often fare well at the box office. In 2005, Focus released a version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" starring Keira Knightley that ultimately grossed $121.1 million worldwide. The last feature film version of Jane Eyre, however, a Franco Zeffirelli-directed Miramax movie starring Anna Paquin, collected only $5.2 million in 1996.

The new "Jane Eyre," which stars Mia Wasikowska, will continue its slow rollout next week: It will play in about 23 theaters, opening in nine new markets including cities like Boston and Chicago.

— Amy Kaufman

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