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Box Office: "Amreeka" Leads Slow Labor Day Weekend (UPDATED)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 7, 2009 at 5:13AM

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Cherien Dabis’s “Amreeka” led a quiet batch of reporting limited releases for the four-day Labor Day weekend. On four screens, the National Geographic Cinema release - which follows a Palestinian woman named and her teenage son Fadi whose plans to resettle in the United States don’t quite go according to plan - grossed an estimated $70,000, averaging $17,500. The first narrative release from National Geographic - which released last year's "U2: 3-D," Sundance Film Festival alum "Amreeka" expands through September.
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According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Cherien Dabis’s “Amreeka” led a quiet batch of reporting limited releases for the four-day Labor Day weekend. On four screens, the National Geographic Cinema release - which follows a Palestinian woman named and her teenage son Fadi whose plans to resettle in the United States don’t quite go according to plan - grossed an estimated $70,000, averaging $17,500. The first narrative release from National Geographic - which released last year's "U2: 3-D," Sundance Film Festival alum "Amreeka" expands through September.

Last weekend's champ, R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue," expanded from 6 to 20 screens in the New York area after its massive opening haul and saw a significant drop in overall grosses, despite more than tripling its screens. The Roadside Attractions release - a doc on Vogue editor Anna Wintour - grossed $181,000, a 18% drop from is three-day numbers last weekend, averaging $9,050. There's a few things to take into consideration, though. For one, there's also an underwhelming tendency of moviegoing over Labor Day weekend. For another, the film didn't actually expand beyond the New York City area, it just added screens in commercial multiplexes opened on Long Island, northern New Jersey and Rockland County, NY. Had it's expansion been to major cinemas in new markets it would have held on much better (though this also suggests how the film plays outside city centers). Next weekend's major expansion to Los Angeles and 20 other markets (on somewhere between 95 and 120 screens), will be the film's true test. After 11 days, "Issue"'s gross stands at $507,000 - in just one market.

"We have now grossed over $500,000 in 11 days in just the New York market alone," Roadside Attractions' Howard Cohen told indieWIRE. "This weekend we tried a bit of expansion into NY market suburban pure commercial multiplexes, with mixed results, but we're still playing extremely well in our downtown and art screens. We're very excited about our expansion this coming weekend."

Also dropping off from a potent opening weekend was Robert D. Siegel's "Big Fan," which grossed $29,000 from 10 screens over the four day-weekend. Its $2,900 per-theater-average was weak, particularly in comparison to its $12,133 PTA debut last weekend. Though one must again keep in mind the weekend's weakness, and look to "Fan"'s six market expansion next weekend for a more significant display of its potential. Its total stands at $63,276.

IFC Films saw better results from the second weekend of Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Still Walking," which grossed $56,000 from 8 screens over the four-days, averaging a decent $7,000 and bringing its total to $87,076. While another IFC release - "In The Loop" - crossed the $2 million mark in its seventh weekend, grossing another $214,000 from 92 screens (for an -all things considered - impressive $2,326).

Unfortunately, there was nothing impressive about the sophomore frame of Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," which fell a hefty 47% in its second weekend of wide release despite an added day of grosses. On 1,395 screens, the $30 million budgeted Focus Features film grossed only $1,845,000. Its $1,323 average helped it top off at $6,47,000 so far.

Among other holdovers, the fourth weekend of Sony Pictures Classics' release of Davis Guggenheim's "It Might Get Loud" "Loud" - a doc which features rare on-the-road discussions with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White - expanded 26 screens to 56. It managed $211,634, averaging a respectable $3,779 and taking its total to $621,704 as it continues to expand.

And finally, the eighth weekend of summer 2009's biggest hit, Marc Webb's "(500) Days of Summer" saw its grosses rise 17.5%, grossing another $2,360,000 from its 935 screens. That took the Fox Searchlight release's total to a stellar $28,428,000. "Summer" seems like it could actually push the $40 million mark by the end of its theatrical run.

Check back with indieWIRE Tuesday its weekly box office chart with final numbers, and do check out our summer movie box office report, which was published Friday afternoon.

indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.