Advance word has been positively gushing for Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead -- our own Erik Davis called it "a film that's exceptional in every way -- from its execution to its acting" while Jeffrey M. Anderson felt it deserves to be on "the list of the year's best American films" -- and New Yorkers flocked to the two Manhattan locations where it opened on Friday. It earned an average of $34,600, according to estimates compiled by Leonard Klady at Movie City News. ThinkFilm Company will expand it steadily over the next few weeks.

Klady says that "the bloom is definitely off the rose for documentaries," citing the poor returns for Jimmy Carter: Man From Plainsand How to Cook Your Lifeas evidence that "the industry has effectively killed the layer of the golden egg with too many non-fiction movies ... that cannot sustain even a niche crowd at the multiplex." Jimmy Carter pulled in just $1,320 per screen at seven locations for Sony Pictures Classics and How to Cook drew about the same ($1,480 per screen at four locations) for Roadside Attractions, according to Klady. Another doc did good business on just one screen for distrib The Weinstein Co. -- Pete Seeger: The Power of Song earned an estimated $12,500, per Box Office Mojo.

Distributor Roadside Attractions had more pleasant news for a fiction feature, however: Bella, the Audience Award winner at Toronto last year, finally opened on 165 screens and did very nicely, averaging $7,390 per locale, according to Klady's estimates. Other new limited releases struggled to find audiences: Music Within($2,790 average on 17 screens), Mr. Untouchable ($1,950 per-screen at 26 locations), Rails & Ties ($2,160 average at five locations), Black Irish ($1,650 average on four screens) and Slipstream ($970 at six locations).