Siblings dealing with their dying father trumped a man who can only move one eyelid in a box office battle between two award-worthy independent films. On the face of it, just because of their subject matter, neither would seem likely to draw big crowds, but excellent critical response and festival buzz appear to have paid off.

The Savages opened last Wednesday in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles and earned a very good $38,250 per screen, according to estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman star as the siblings, with Philip Bosco as their father; Tamara Jenkins directed. Cinematical's Kim Voynar wrote: "There are no easy answers in dealing with aging and dying parents, and Jenkins doesn't try to give us one; she simply takes us into the story of her fascinating characters, and the integrity with which she handles it makes it ring true throughout."

The "one eyelid" movie, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, opened at three locations in New York and Los Angeles; weekend receipts reflect a strong per-screen average of $25,100. When he saw it at Cannes, our own James Rocchi said he found himself "on the edge of tears more than a few times ... [it's] a movie well worth seeing, with images and lessons that strike with power and don't let go."

Four other indies opened in one or two theaters in New York and/or Los Angeles, and Leonard Klady at Movie City News has their estimated per-screen earnings: Jessica Yu's doc Protagonist ($4,920; read Christopher Campbell's review); Miles Brandman's "darkly comic" Sex and Breakfast ($3,850), Robert Stone's doc Oswald's Ghost ($1,830; read my review), and Francesco Lucente's drama Badland ($1,220).

At least four other indies also opened, but financial results have not yet surfaced: ice hockey bio-pic The Rocket, prison escape thriller Chronicle of an Escape, foodie/lesbian romantic comedy Nina's Heavenly Delights and Christian Slater-starrer He Was a Quiet Man.