"Après Vous" Bids a First Place B.O. Bon jour in a Dour Specialty Weekend
by Brian Brooks
Early summer doldrums beset the specialty box office last weekend, as the overall per screen average for "indie" releases continued to fall, and the much larger industry-wide screen average declined as well. Paramount Pictures' "Après Vous" lead the pack with a moderate screen average in limited release, while last week's number one, "Saving Face" from Sony Classics placed second.
"Mad Hot Ballroom," also a Paramount Classics release, was the weekend's largest single earner, placing eighth on the chart, ranked on a per screen average basis. The combined grosses for "Ballroom" as well as "Ladies in Lavender" and "Layer Cake" calculated to slightly over half of the entire weekend's iW BOT total of just under $2 million. The light figures, however, are fairly in step with last year's totals for the first weekend of June.
French director Pierre Salvadori's romantic comedy, "Après Vous" lead a weary list of specialty releases over the Friday - Sunday period, ending June 5. The film opened on three screens, grossing $25,504 for a lukewarm $8,501 per screen average, but topping the iW BOT. Representatives from Paramount Classics were not available for comment.
Last week's number one film, "Saving Face" by Alice Wu placed second on the chart, following a small expansion. The Sundance '05 feature took in $83,578 at 13 sites, averaging $6,429. Last week, the film opened on six screens, with a $16,513 average, a 61% decline. The film's two-week cume is $202,590. Rialto's "The Two of Us," meanwhile, remained on one screen, taking in $5,115, a 31% decline. The film's cume is $15,235.
Andrew Bujalski's "Funny Ha Ha," being released under the Goodbye Cruel Releasing banner, ranked fourth on the chart in a pair of theaters. The film grossed $8,648 for a $4,324 average. Last week, the film played one site, taking in $1,339. The film was buoyed with a strong showing at its Laemmle Sunset 5 engagement in Los Angeles, grossing $7,640.
In other openers, Empire Pictures' "Caterina in the Big City" played a pair of showings, grossing $9,352 ($4,676 average), placing fourth on the chart. Miramax's "Deep Blue" also played two screens, amounting to $8,373 ($4,187 average) coming in sixth, while Kino International's "Or (My Treasure)" took in $5,022 from two showings ($2,511 average). Tartan Films' "Milwaukee, Minnesota" debuted at three sites, grossing $7,517 ($2,506 average).
Finally, Picturehouse's first release, "Rock School" averaged dismally with an average of $879 per screen from 32 locations ($28,136 gross).
Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions' joint release, "Walk on Water" hit a box office milestone over the weekend, becoming the highest grossing Israeli film in the U.S., passing the $2 million mark. The film, directed by Eytan Fox, played 35 locations over the weekend, grossing $52,118 ($1,489 average). In 14 weeks, the film's cume is just over $2.025 million.
Paramount Classics' doc, "Mad Hot Ballroom" added 39 screens to its run, grossing $345,793, the largest single amount on the chart. The film averaged $3,602 from 96 showings (last week's average was $7,883, a 54% drop), and the film's one-month cume is over $1.154 million.
Along with Roadside Attractions' "Ladies in Lavender" ($315,047 gross, $3,282 average) and Sony Pictures Classics' "Layer Cake" ($345,603 gross, $1,728 average), the top three films represented just over 50% of the specialty chart's combined gross of just under $2 million. Seventy-four titles screened on 1,228 screens, a decline of one title and 118 venues.
The weekend's overall iW BOT average calculated at $1,628, a 35% decline from last week's $2,496. Industry-wide, 131 films grossed about $131.1 million on 30,902 screens, averaging $4,242, or 45% under last week's $7,646.
There is at least some precedent for the weekend's weak numbers. Last year's figures for the first weekend in June showed a dull $1,817 average, although the overall gross was much higher at about $3 million. "Control Room" dominated that weekend with a $25,320 average on one screen, while fellow doc, "The Corporation" came in second with $14,336 from two screens.
François Ozon's "5X2" from THINKFilm opens this weekend, while Palm Pictures will debut Fabrice Du Welz's "The Ordeal." And, Wellspring will open Sebastien Lifshitz's "Wildside" on Friday.