By Indiewire | Indiewire May 20, 2003 at 2:0AM
Blame it on The Matrix? Specialty Openers Go Slow
by Brian Brooks
"The Matrix" ruled the weekend, even showing on three screens at the usually un-Hollywoodish Angelika in Manhattan. The specialty box office openers fared comparatively slimmer. A couple of exceptions, however, were the debut of Ken Loach's "Sweet Sixteen" and the Los Angeles bow of Matthew Barney's "Cremaster Cycle," which showed strength. Meanwhile, box office stalwarts "Winged Migration" and "Nowhere in Africa" continued with winning numbers, while others showed signs of slowing.
Lions Gate's "Sweet Sixteen" opened in the U.S. in three venues grossing $26,667 for the weekend. Loach's film about a boy determined to try and build a "normal" home for his mother returning form prison averaged $8,889 per screen.
Also debuting last week was, "Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary," from Zeitgeist Films, which took in $4,784 over the weekend one one screen. The Guy Maddin-directed feature has earned $7,312 since opening Wednesday.
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur's latest, "The Sea" screened at New York's Landmark Sunshine, grossing a shallow $4,191, while fetish doc "Beyond Vanilla" made $5,761, also on one screen.
Palm Pictures rolled out Matthew Barney's "Cremaster Cycle" at L.A.'s NuArt Theatre over the weekend, taking in $13,487 from eight screenings. Including its one Manhattan screening (one nightly showing), the film earned $14,509 for a per-screen average of $7,255 and a $59,162 total gross since opening in New York one month ago.
"Winged Migration" flew against the pack of slow numbers averaging $10,761 on 13 screens for a $139,896 gross in its fifth weekend (compared to an $11,272 average last week). So far the film has totaled just over a half million dollars.
"Nowhere in Africa" is still making the scene on its 11th weekend of release, taking in $244,645 on 78 screens for a respectable $3,136 average. The film's total to date is just under $3.5 million.
Spelling bee doc "Spellbound" opened outside its previous exclusive home at Film Forum, screening in 12 additional venues earning $82,444 for a $6,342 per-screen average. The film has grossed a total of $157,393.
"Bend it Like Beckham" meanwhile shed two venues this week, earning $1.37 million on 553 screens, bringing the film's total past the $15 million threshold in its nine-week run. The film averaged $2,481, down from the previous weekend's $3,128.
Self-distributed "Cinemania," about a group of cinemaholics, opened in New York at Cinema Village over the weekend. The doc, winner of the 2002 Hamptons Film Festival's Golden Starfish Award, earned $3,948 in the 72-seat theater where it screened with only one 7 p.m. showing in the evenings. "It was a great turnout," said the film's co-director Stephen Kijak in a conversation with indieWIRE. "We're going to try to keep it in NYC as long as possible -- the press has been amazing and the audiences love it, so hopefully the word of mouth will start to spread." Kijak said the film will also roll out in Boston and Portland with more cities to follow. "Stickers, flyers, emails, and interns. Coffee, coffee, coffee. It's 24/7. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it seems to be paying off," Kijak concluded.
Next week's openers include "Respiro," "Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns," and "Friday Night."