By Indiewire | Indiewire May 28, 2003 at 2:0AM
A Holiday at the Box office for "Respiro," "Winged Migration," "Cremaster," "Espagnole" and "Spellbound"
by Brian Brooks
Sony Pictures Classics released "Respiro" over the 4-day holiday weekend, topping the indieWIRE per screen average chart in its debut. Memorial Day weekend brought in expected larger audiences, increasing per screen averages for many specialty films already in release. "Winged Migration," "The Cremaster Cycle" "L'Auberge Espagnole" and "Spellbound" padded their averages from the previous week, rounding out the top tier on the box office chart.
Sony placed first and second on the indieWIRE box office list's venue average ranking with "Respiro" and "Winged Migration" respectively. Emanuele Crialese's "Respiro," which won the Critics Week Grand Prize and the Young Critics Award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, played on 7 screens during its first weekend grossing $94,452 for a memorable $13,493 average. "Winged Migration" meanwhile played on 25 screens earning $295,745 for a celestial $11,830 average (compared to $10,761 the previous weekend). The Oscar-nominated film has cumed $866,036 since its release six weeks ago.
Cedric Klapisch's "L'Auberge Espagnole" traveled through 28 screens, earning $252,577 for a grande average of $9,021. It was at number five on the indieWIRE chart. Steve Gilula, president of distribution at Fox Searchlight, told indieWIRE that the film's average climbed in ten of the eleven holdovers since its opening the previous week, playing particularly well in the nation's capital with $36,568 in grosses at the Avalon theater alone. "In addition to traditional foreign film audiences, [there are] also a lot of college-aged groups [seeing the film]" commented Gilula. "The film played very well in Palo Alto [CA] and Cambridge [MA] with word of mouth spreading among students interested in study abroad programs." Gilula revealed that the film had been promoted among students wanting to spend time abroad, and the film's "great view of Barcelona" was a plus in driving audiences in university areas. "Espagnole"'s cume is $340,899. The film will open in eight additional markets this week, to about 50 theaters.
Matthew Barney's "The Cremaster Cycle" played on 5 screens, opening up in San Francisco, Berkeley and Chicago, while continuing its spectacular run at the NuArt in Los Angeles. The Palm Pictures release, which is at number three on this week's chart, grossed a total of $47,839 for a $9,568 average. "These are some of the most challenging and subversive films to be commercially released in recent memory, and it's incredibly rewarding to see them doing so well," Ryan Werner, head of theatrical distribution at Palm Pictures told indieWIRE. The film reigned as the top exclusive in L.A., bringing in $24,795, up 34% from the previous weekend's tinsel town take. The film has totaled $124,485 since its New York debut 5 weeks ago. Next week, "Cremaster" moves to the Arclight in Hollywood.
Screenings for ThinkFilm's "Spellbound" nearly doubled, playing 24 venues for an A+ $9,448 per screen average from a weekend gross of $226,760. The previous weekend's average was $6,342. Since its release 4 weeks ago, the film has earned $431,087 -- it was at number four on the indieWIRE chart.
Memorial Day openers also included Cowboy Pictures' "Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns" by AJ Schnack, grossing $6,411 on one screen, while Wellspring's "Friday Night" played 3 venues in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. taking in $11,981, for a $3,994 average.
Wellspring, meanwhile, continued to see magic with Aleksandr Sokurov's "Russian Ark." In its 24th weekend of release, the film, about a 19th century French aristocrat's journey through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, grossed $46,135 on 20 screens ($2,307 average). The film is now just shy of $2 million. "We never thought it would do $2 million, it's out performed our expectations," said Wendy Lidell, V.P. of theatrical releasing at Wellspring in a conversation with iW. "We're delighted people have re-discovered Sokurov." Lidell said that the film continues to roll out in secondary markets, and has even played longer in smaller areas such as Cary, North Carolina and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. "[Playing] six weeks in Ft. Lauderdale for a rarified Russian film [is something we] wouldn't have thought," commented Lidell. Upcoming releases for "Russian Ark" include Houston and Orlando.
In New York, self-distributed film "Cinemania" played its second weekend at Cinema Village, taking in $4,792 for the four-day holiday, compared to opening weekend's 3-day gross of $3,948. The film, by Angela Christlieb and Stephen Kijak, has so far cumed $11,305.