Focus Features' Helen Mirren drama-thriller The Debt got off to a strong start at the domestic box office on Wednesday, grossing an estimated $958,670 -- in line with the $929,000 earned by The Constant Gardener, another Focus title released on the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend.
The Debt placed No. 2 for the day behind The Help. Focus is using the midweek lunch to build buzz going into the long holiday weekend.
Adults flocked to the movie, directed by John Madden and a remake of the 2007 Israeli film of the same name by Assaf Bernstein. The Debt, debuting in 1,768 theaters, also stars Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson.
Focus hopes the indie film will lure adults looking for counterprogramming, just as box office hit Constant Gardener did. So far, Focus is meeting its goal -- 95% of Wednesday night's audience was over the age of 25. Moviegoers gave the film a B CinemaScore.
The opening day gross bodes well for a strong five-day opening. Constant Gardener grossed $12.7 million by the end of the long Labor Day weekend, a good haul for a specialized film opening nationwide.
The Debt had a long road to theaters. Miramax originally planned to open the drama-thriller in December 2010, but when Disney sold Miramax, the title was orphaned. Focus Features came on board to distribute the film domestically.