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Independent box office: Matthew McConaughey's 'Dallas Buyers Club' scores

Independent box office: Matthew McConaughey's 'Dallas Buyers Club' scores © AP / Matthew McConaughey Independent box office: Matthew McConaughey's 'Dallas Buyers Club' scores

By Todd Cunningham

The Matthew McConaughey-Jared Leto AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club" got off to solid start in its limited box-office debut, taking in $264,128 from nine theaters for a $29,347 per-screen average.

"Dallas Buyers Club" is the last Focus Features release before incoming CEO Peter Schlessel takes over the specialty label, which has merged with FilmDistrict, from founder James Schamus. The fact-based tale stars McConaughey as a homophobic Texas drug addict diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, who begins to smuggle anti-viral medications into Dallas from all over the world.

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The opening was below that of some other Focus films that dealt with issues of interest to the LGBT moviegoers, including 2005's "Brokeback Mountain" (a $109,485 average from five theaters), "The Kids Are All Right" ($70,282 from seven) in 2010 and "Milk," which averaged $40,385 on 36 theaters in 2008.

But Focus was pleased with the debut of the film, for which McConaughey and Leto are drawing acting awards buzz, and saw a second-day surge as significant.

"The film experienced a strong increase in box office on Saturday with a 71% overall bump from Friday to Saturday. Historically, smarthouse films increase in the upper 40% range from Friday to Saturday. Yesterday's increase is a strong indication that the film's popular and box office momentum is working well," said a spokesman.

"About Time" and "Diana," two movies from the U.K., landed softly in their limited release debuts.

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The time-travel tale "About Time," is the latest effort from writer-director Richard Curtis, the man behind romantic comedy hits "Love Actually," "Notting Hill" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." He's reunited with Working Title producers Tim Bev an and Eric Fellner for "About Time" which stars Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy.

Universal launched "About Time" on 175 screens ahead of its nationwide rollout next weekend. It brought in $1.1 million for a decent per-screen average of $6,045.

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Diana" brought in $69,914 from 38 theaters for eOne for a weak per-theater average of $1,754.

The biopic starring Naomi Watts tells the tale of the Princess Diana's secret love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. It has been savaged by the critics, and has just a 9 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Why Jared Leto Dropped His Guitar and Put on a Skirt for 'Dallas Buyers Club'

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