"A Tout de Suite" is Grand Dame of the Specialty Box office; "Enron" Increases its Stock
by Brian Brooks
French film "A Tout de Suite" by Benoit Jacquot stormed the box office over the weekend, giving The Cinema Guild release the specialty throne, the first time a French-language film has held the position since Miramax's "The Chorus" opened in January. Another non-English title, meanwhile, captured the chart's second position in its debut. Lucrecia Martel's "La Nina Santa" (The Holy Child) opened in limited release from Fine Line and HBO Films.
Also opening in the top five was Roadside Attraction's recent Tribeca Film Festival feature "Ladies in Lavender." Last week's number one film on the chart, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" remained solid in its second weekend following a sizeable screen expansion with both a high ranking on the chart, as measured on a per screen basis, as well as a top tier overall gross. The weekend, however, saw a decline in the iW BOT's combined screen average.
Benoit Jacquot feature "A Tout de Suite" debuted number one on the specialty chart last weekend, opening on one screen. The Cinema Guild release debuted over the three-day period covered in the chart ending Sunday, May 1 with $15,637.
"We're very pleased with the film's opening. We knew there was an audience out there who still loved the French New Wave, and all those great crime films, so we tried to tap into that audience as much as possible," said Ryan Krivoshey, director of feature distribution at the Cinema Guild in a conversation with indieWIRE Tuesday. "In a way we almost marketed the film like it was a re-release, but always emphasizing that this was an original take on the genre."
Krivoshey commented that the audience was primarily in their 20s and 30s, but also a sizeable number of older people who "follow French cinema." He also credited the recent Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series in New York, sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the French Film Office of garnering attention for the film. "We got a fantastic boost out of Rendez-Vous, and that allowed us to get a good amount of press coverage for Jacquot and [star] Isild Le Besco, who were in town helping promote the film." The Cinema Guild maintained the momentum through grassroots outreach and marketing up to its opening.
Next month, the company will open "A Tout de Suite" in Los Angeles followed by other cities. "We open in L.A. next month, and will then do a slow roll-out to other markets, in some cases, following screenings of the film in local festivals."
Fine Line and HBO Films opened "The Holy Girl" at a pair of locations last weekend, taking the second position on the iW BOT. The film, by Lucrecia Martel, grossed $28,327 for a $14,164 per screen average.
Magnolia Pictures' "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" placed third on the chart in its second weekend release. The doc played 49 sites (up from its initial three), taking in $411,960, which also gave the film the third highest absolute gross on the chart. "Enron" averaged $8,407, down 67% from its initial $25,546 average in its initial debut on three screens.
Roadside Attractions' "Ladies in Lavender," meanwhile opened at 22 sites giving the drama a fourth ranking at $6,783 per screen. The film, directed by Charles Dance, grossed $149,224. "Funny Ha Ha," meanwhile rounded out the debuts in the top ten, placing sixth with a $10,555 weekend take ($5,278 average).
In other weekend openers, Sony Classics debuted "3 Iron" at seven locations, grossing $20,084 ($2,869 average), and TLA Releasing launched "Death of a Dynasty" at 16 sites with $28,107 ($1,757 average). "The Tunnel" from Avatar Films, meanwhile, played two locations, grossing $3,127 ($1,564 average).
Sony Classics' "Kung Fu Hustle" continued to earn the lions share of the iW BOT, taking 49% of the entire weekend gross of just over $6.67 million. The Stephen Chow action-comedy grossed nearly $3.32 million from 2,440 screens, 63 fewer then the previous weekend, and averaged $1,360, or 49% below the previous reading of $2,697. In one month, the film has cumed just over $12.65 million.
The weekend's overall iW BOT gross fell 35% from the previous weekend's $10.2 million, mostly reflecting a decrease from "Kung Fu Hustle." The chart's combined gross fell about 32% to $1,386 compared to the previous week's $2,041. Factoring out "Kung Fu Hustle," however, the remaining 83 titles included in the chart averaged 2% higher at $1,413 from grosses of over $3.35 million on 2,374 screens. Industry-wide, 128 films averaged about 40% higher at $2,292 from $90.37 million screening at 39,418 locations.
This weekend's specialty openers include IFC Films' "Brothers," as well as Freestyle Releasing opens, "Fighting Tommy Riley." First Run Features debuts "Le Grand Role," and Tartan Films USA and TLA Releasing roll out "Mysterious Skin."