"Bad Education" Perched Atop the BOT for One Month; THINKFilm's "Born into Brothels" Debuts Strong
by Brian Brooks
Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" continued to excel in limited release, dominating the iW: BOT for the fourth straight weekend with the highest per screen average in a specialty class that swelled by 11 additional titles from the previous week. Newcomer "Born into Brothels" from THINKFilm emerged the leader of the latest indie offerings, taking the second position on the chart, calculated on a per screen basis. Last week's number two, "House of Flying Daggers" swiped the third position, while "A Very Long Engagement" remained entrenched in the chart's top tier on the same number of screens. The iW BOT's top three overall earners gobbled nearly two-thirds of the weekend's box office, down slightly from last count, while several other theatrical debuts scraped limited attention from audiences.
The Almodovar film maintained its tour de force in limited runs, adding two additional screens in its fourth weekend, ace-ing the box office test once again with $135,015 on five screens for a $27,003 average. Last week, the film's per screen tally came to $29,619 from three sites, a decrease of just under 9%. "Bad Education" has cumed almost $700,000. so far.
"House of Flying Daggers," another Sony Classics release, took in $205,416 from 15 locations for a $13,694 average. The feature's per site calculation decreased by almost 49%, remaining on the same number of screens, and has totaled $723,017 in two weeks.
THINKFilm unveiled Sundance 2004 audience award-winning film "Born into Brothels" by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman at one location, capturing the second chart placement with a $14,605 weekend.
"We are extremely encouraged," commented THINKFilm, head of U.S. theatrical to indieWIRE yesterday about the film's opening. "The competition at this time of year couldn't be tougher, and the amounts of money being lavished on most of the other films' campaigns couldn't be higher. But we had a very solid weekend." Urman added that the theaters at Film Forum, where it played in New York, are small, yet the film was "one of the highest single screen grosses of any so-called specialty film in all of Manhattan."
Urman said crowds were motivated in part to see the film due to positive word-of-mouth, describing audiences who showed up over the weekend as a "typical metropolitan crowd" without any definite ethnic or age bias. "From the outset, this film has won both jury prizes and audience awards at the numerous festivals it has played, so we always knew that acclaim would work hand-in-hand with a certain crowd-pleasing quality."
In promoting the film, Urman indicated that THINKFilm emphasized the film on its own merits rather than exploiting it on a socially conscious level. "We were very wary of selling the film in what I call a 'UNICEF-style.' We didn't want people to think it was good for them -- we wanted themm to think it was good," Urman said, continuing, "We emphasized the film's visual beauty and warmth in our trailer, and we have a very pretty and colorful poster and ad-look that doesn't at all trade in pathos or despair. This film has won so many prizes and has garnered so many critical plaudits, that we have an embarrassment of riches."
Film Forum has extended "Born into Brothels" stay, and THINKFilm hopes to remain in New York through awards season -- the end of February. Urman said that the company has "intentionally held back any additional cities until Oscar time" since the film is short-listed in the doc category. "We have hopes for an Academy Award nomination, [so] we aim to use that distinction as the chief element in propelling the film nationally."
In other weekend debuts, Indican Pictures opened "Fabled on three screens, taking in $9,642 ($3,214 average), and Kino International released "A Talking Picture" in two locations with $5,325 ($2,663 average). Palm Pictures opened "Dolls" with $2,067 on one screen, while Newmarket Films debuted "Green Butchers" at two sites with $2,483 ($1,242 average). Added together, the openers as a group represented .6% of the overall specialty take for the weekend of over $5.284 million on just .3% of the screens devoted to "indie" releases.
On the other side of the spectrum, "Finding Neverland," multiple Golden Globe-nominees "Sideways," and "Kinsey" grossed 65% of the entire specialty take (down slightly from 67% last week). The big three took in more than $3.45 million on 1,179 screens. The iW BOT's remaining 68 films grossed nearly $1.83 million from 1,577 location for a $1,160 combined average a 25% decline from last week's $1,552 on 1,665 screens using similar calculations.
Industry-wide, 114 films played 35,356 sites, taking in over $106.75 million for an average of about $3,019. Last year, Peter Weber's "The Girl With a Pearl Earring" reigned number one on the iW BOT with a $12,782 average on seven screens for the weekend ending Sunday, December 14. During that period, 43 films reported 1.79 million from 1,168 screens.
Get ready for a big weekend. Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" opens with limited runs this weekend, along with Dan Harris' "Imaginary Heroes." Also debuting are Till Shauder and Chris Valentien's "Santa Smokes," Kevin Spacey's "Beyond the Sea," Gerardo Herrero's "The Archimedes Priniple," Giada Cologrande's "Open My Heart," Alejandro Amenabar's "The Sea Inside," Maria Lidon's "Whore," Kim Jee-Woon's "A Tale of Two Sisters," Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades," and Gianni Amelio's "The Keys to the House."