"Niche freshmen were in better shape" than Hollywood product this past weekend, according to Leonard Klady, who compiled box office estimates for Movie City News. He placed Chak De! India first among independent releases by virtue of its earnings of $390,000 at 75 locations, resulting in a per-screen average of $5,250. Chak De! India stars Shahrukh Khan as a disgraced field hockey player who returns to the game as coach of the national women's team. In a New York Times capsule (free registration required to read), Andy Webster said: "The film's greatest merit is its commentary on sexism in India."

Klady also gave kudos to Julie Delpy's2 Days in Paris for its performance; it reaped $20,510 per screen at eight locations, according to his figures. Our own Erik Davis raved about 2 Days when he saw it earlier this year. The critical response was good, rated at 85% positive by Rotten Tomatoes, so that bodes well for Delpy's future filmmaking projects. Recently Cinematical's Ryan Stewart talked with the writer/director/star in a far-ranging interview that touched on other scripts she's written as well as the challenges posed by 2 Days. The trailer, available at the official site, makes me laugh every time I see it, so I hope the film gets pushed out to a few more cities before heading to DVD.

The other notable indie release this weekend was Rocket Science, director Jeffrey Blitz's coming of age flick. Scott Weinberg reviewed it at Sundance, while Erik Davis took a more recent look and also interviewed director Blitz. Rocket Science made $9,390 per screen at six locations for an estimated total of $56,300. The film scored even higher than 2 Days in Paris, according to Rotten Tomatoes (89% positive), so we'll see if word of mouth builds the audience for next weekend.