A Spring Chill? Specialty Box office Ho-hum; "Look at Me" Opens Solid
by Brian Brooks
Sony Pictures Classics debuted French comedy "Look at Me" last weekend, grabbing the specialty box office spotlight with a half-dozen runs, while Wolfe Releasing's "Girl Play" opened in second place on the chart, calculated on a per screen basis. IFC Films' doc "Dust to Glory," meanwhile, rounded out the top three 'indie' releases. The iW BOT's overall performance continued to lag with the combined gross and number of screens falling in the three-day period ending Sunday, April 3, in addition to a decline in the overall per screen average. Other openers and second week releases were quiet in an indie line up that seems to be facing an early spring cold. One exception, however, is Newmarket's "Downfall," which has remained solid now more than six weeks since its initial roll out.
Agnes Jaoui's "Look at Me" debuted on six screens over the weekend, eyeing the specialty box office summit with a solid $11,598 per screen average from a $69,587 gross. "It's a great opening," commented Sony Classics co-president to indieWIRE yesterday who added that the film performed well in both its New York and Los Angeles engagements.
"We're very happy, and the word-of-mouth is strong for this picture. [We have] three or four-star reviews." Barker said the film's opening weekend attracted an educated audience with a broad age range. "College graduates of all ages came to see the film. People were drawn to ['Look at Me'] because [director] Agnes Jaoui is a real talent." Additionally, he also credited the film's opening on the word-of-mouth generated from being the opening night film at last October's New York Film Festival. Sony Classics will open the film in "all major cities" across the United States in the next several weeks.
Wolfe Releasing's "Girl Play" debuted at one theater in New York, taking in a respectable $8,441 for the lesbian-themed romantic comedy, directed by Lee Friedlander. "Girl Play" placed second in the iW BOT. "I'm very pleased, [this] proves the power of grassroots marketing, and I [also] want to credit the director," said Orly Ravid, head of acquisitions at Wolfe. Ravid said that the company used "standard marketing" for the film, including outreach to lesbians and the Jewish community. "Distributors are [often] fearful of lesbian films, [but] it just takes some work," commented Ravid who added that it "takes more effort" to reach the gay female audience, but that it is possible to have a successful lesbian release.
Wolfe will target some theaters in San Francisco and possibly Florida as well as "some markets little by little" going forward, but will be careful how it releases the feature. "No one benefits if the film is over-released," said Ravid. "We want to have the film find its audience in a responsible way."
Dana Brown's Baja California race doc "Dust to Glory" also opened this weekend at two locations. The IFC Films release took in $15,757 for a tepid $7,879 per screen average, while THINKFilm's "Kontroll" also debuted on two screens, grossing $10,098 for a $5,049 average, and a fifth place on the chart. Think's wine doc "Mondovino," meanwhile, added two screens in its second weekend in theaters, grossing just under $13,000 for a $4,312 average, a 56% decline from last week's debut $9,840 average from one engagement.
Fox Searchlight's "Millions" sailed well passed the $1.5 million mark in its fourth weekend of release, grossing $483,815 from 128 screens ($3,780 average, a 40% decline from the previous week). The film was the third highest iW BOT weekend grosser, just behind number one earner, "Melinda and Melinda" and "Downfall."
Searchlight's "Melinda" grossed $558,707 on 197 screens, averaging $2,836, a rather steep 64% decline. Following closely by gross was Newmarket's "Downfall," which has had a solid six-week run. The film's $3,167 average was 27% below the previous week's $4,325 figure. Newmarket added 40 runs over the weekend, grossing a total of $531,980 on 168 screens, and the film has cumed over $3.05 million.
The chart's fourth highest earner, "Sideways," meanwhile is closing in on the $71 million threshold after 25 weeks of release. The film took in $321,271 from 304 sites for a $1,057 average. The top four earning films on the chart represented nearly 45% of the entire weekend specialty gross of over $4.26 million. A total of seventy-five films are included in the chart, playing 2,892 screens. The iW BOT average calculated to about $1,473, a 14% drop from the previous weekend's $1,704 (from a $6.66 million gross on 3,908 screens).
Minus the top four grossers, the remaining 71 'indies' grossed a combined $2.36 million for a $1,129 average (23% below the iW BOT average). Industry-wide, 127 titles took in about $105.88 million on just over 37,000 screens for a $2,859 average, a gain of 3% from last week, and 48% greater than this week's iW BOT average.
This coming weekend's openers include Warner Independent Pictures' "Eros," and Wellspring's "Palindromes." Also debuting are Sony Classics' "Kung Fu Hustle," Dark Forest's "Smile," and Paramount Classics' "Winter Solstice."