It was a battle between heavyweights this past weekend as Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited and Ang Lee's Lust, Caution opened in limited release in Manhattan. Based on estimates compiled by Leonard Klady of Movie City News, it appears that The Darjeeling Limited walked away the winner, earning $141,600 at two locations for distributor Fox Searchlight, while Lust, Caution made $62,800 at its single location for Focus Features.

Both films played at the New York Film Festival, but neither received overwhelmingly positive reviews, so it seems a case where both movies had a very high "want to see" factor. Recent publicity about Owen Wilson may have piqued curiosity about The Darjeeling Limited, while news articles about the NC-17 rating assigned to Lust, Caution for its sexual content surely propelled additional viewers into the theater.

Our own Erik Davis described The Darjeeling Limited as "a tough film for audiences to grasp, in that there's not much of a story to hang onto," so it will be interesting to see if the film can draw an audience beyond the devoted Wes Anderson-ites and the curious. As to Lust, Caution, James Rocchi saw it at the Toronto festival and called it "a challenging piece of cinema that also thrills, a complicated bold work that's bigger than its problems," while Jeffrey M. Anderson concluded: "If only [Ang Lee] could ignore the 'Best Director' hype and focus, he could still contribute something worthwhile to the cinema." The film's lengthy running time, subtitles and rating all point to limited returns despite the sensational start.

Another new limited release, sex trade thriller Trade, failed to draw much interest, averaging just $1,266 at 90 locations, but two films that expanded in their second week performed well: Sean Penn's Into the Wild ($19,390 average at 33 locations) and the revisionist Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ($18,520 average at five locations).