Amidst A Number of Summer Openers, "Whale Rider" Continues Strong
by Brian Brooks
The box office mudslinging continued at the weekend box office with a newcomer, "Dirty Pretty Things," making its way onto the top spot of the indieWIRE: BOT as measured by per screen average. Last weekend's number one, "The Holy Land" continued well on three New York area screens as a heavy current of audiences maintained their flow into theaters for "Swimming Pool." And "Cremaster Cycle" muscled its way back in the top tier of the chart after bows on the West Coast.
Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things" migrated to the top spot of the iW: BOT on its debut weekend, landing on five screens with a weekend gross of $100,512. The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou, in fact, was bathed in cash, taking the highest per screen average of any film this weekend, even beating "Bad Boys II," with a $20,102 per site take. "Dirty Pretty Things" also had the second highest opening per screen average in the specialty market this summer after "Capturing the Friedmans," according to Miramax. The release will expand on August 1st to the other top ten markets except San Francisco, which will be added on August 25th.
CAVU Pictures' "The Holy Land" continued its run at the Angelika once again taking in the highest grosses at the downtown Manhattan theater. The film also played two New York suburban sites taking in $27,730, or a heavenly $9,243 per screen average in its second week and is second on the iW chart. The film has totaled $58,745.
Focus Features once again scored with Francois Ozon's "Swimming Pool," capturing the third spot on the BOT with a $6,198 average on 137 screens, up from 52 last weekend ($10,617 per screen average last week). The film grossed $849,166 in week three of release for a cume of over $2.35 million.
"Whale Rider" is moving closer to breaching the $8 million mark with a total gross after the weekend of slightly under $7.75 million. The New Zealand film screened in 442 sites with a take of over $1.35 million in its 14th week of release.
"[We're] expanding further with 442 this week and maybe 500 to 525 this [coming] weekend," said Newmarket Films head Bob Berney in a conversation with indieWIRE about the film. "I feel great, especially since [getting] summer playtime is competitive." Berney continued to say that the release of "Seabiscuit" next weekend may be a variable in how the film continues to expand in the short term, "The next few weeks, [we'll] have to decide how far to go or hold [for awhile]." Berney added that the film's success at the box office was aided by "great reviews and parents and grandparents taking [their] kids." He disparaged, however, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decision to not allow Newmarket to say, "Roger Ebert said, 'take the kids,'" because of the film's PG-13 rating. Still the film is one of the biggest in the specialty market this summer. "For this small New Zealand film," concluded Berney, "it's really astounding."
Coming back once again to the top tier of the iW: BOT was Matthew Barney's "Cremaster Cycle." The Palm Pictures release opened in Portland and encored in Boston. Grosses increased 47% in its second weekend in Seattle. "Cremaster" played a total of four screens for a $23,348 weekend gross and a per screen average of $5,837. Since release eleven weeks ago, the film has cumed $357,749. "Part of the release plan is to pick the right weekends for "Cremaster" because it is a cultural event and we know there's a level of interest for films [like these]," commented Palm's head of theatrical distribution Ryan Werner.
Meanwhile, Palm's "The Housekeeper" spent its second weekend on six screens for a $31,013 take and a neat $5,169 average for a sixth place finish on the iW: BOT.
"The Embalmer" bowed on two screens over the weekend grossing $10,313, resting with an average of $5,157 and a number 7 spot on the chart, while fellow opener "The Anarchist Cookbook," from American World Pictures/Innovation Film Group played two screens, grossing $6,251 ($3,126 average).
Meanwhile, the door slammed on "Garage Days" in its opening weekend, with a $20,600 gross and an small $896 average.
TLA Releasing's "KM.0," mistakenly left off the BOT last week in its bow, came in 12th on the iW BOT with a $20,068 gross and a $4,014 average. The Spanish film directed by Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda Garcia Serrano has cumed $31,786 in its second week of release.
This weekend, look for the debuts of Carles Bosch & Josep M. Domenech's doc "Balseros" (Cuban Rafters), Gregor Jordan's controversial dramatic look at a bad group of U.S. military, "Buffalo Soldiers," Todd Graff's teen musical "Camp," Antonio Serrano's "Lucia, Lucia" with Cecilia Roth, Larry Charles' "Masked and Anonymous" with Bob Dylan, and Fernando Leon de Aranoa's "Mondays in the Sun."