By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 7, 2009 at 8:56AM
Big Beach Films is having a big year. Their latest production, Sam Mendes's "Away We Go," opened this weekend to a massive $143,260 on just four screens, according to estimates from Rentrak earlier this afternoon. That made for a $35,815 per-theater-average for the Focus Features-distributed film, the year's second best behind another Big Beach production - Christine Jeff's "Sunshine Cleaning."
"'Away We Go'' has established itself in the marketplace with a successful opening weekend, measured by the strong overall weekend box office, with impressive results in every theater," Focus' Jack Foley told indieWIRE. "The strong Friday and Saturday box office results reflect sell out conditions arising in every theater especially during the evening shows. Matinee and early evening business was also very strong with the older ticket buyer. Clearly, the film is playing effectively to a mixed age demo which is great for the ultimate box office potential."
While "Away" has a way to go to match "Cleaning"'s ultimate gross - $11,772,061 and counting - it's opening certainly suggests the road trip dramedy could find itself among the summer's specialty release bright spots as it expands in the coming weeks. It opens in 16 markets this Friday and also expand to select theaters in NY and LA.
Though it's not a hit in the vein of "Sunshine" and, likely, "Away We Go," another Big Beach effort - John Crowley's "Is Anybody There?" - has also performed well beyond expectations and continues to chug along under the radar. After 8 weeks, the Michael Caine starrer - distributed independently through Story Island Entertainment - has grossed $1,877,064 after adding another $66,067 this weekend. That makes it one of the problematically few 2009 limited releases to cross the $1,000,000 mark. At this point only nine initially limited 2009 releases have done so (last year at this point the number was over three times that): "Anybody," "Cleaning," "The Brothers Bloom," "Two Lovers," "Sin Nombre," "Rudo y Cursi," "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Gomorrah," and "Every Little Step" that saw their With "Away We Go" certain to join them within a week or two, Big Beach will have a disproportionately high number of inclusions on that list (though of note: there were also many 2008 holdovers that saw the great majority of their release in 2009 that crossed the $1 million mark, including IFC's "Gomorrah" and "Che," and Sony Classics' "The Class" and "Waltz With Bashir").
But Big Beach is not alone in its box office glory. With "Chorus Line" doc "Every Little Step" crossing the $1,000,000 mark this weekend, Jim Stern and Endgame Entertainment also have two films on that list, with a third on the way. "Step," which Stern also directed alongside Adam Del Deo, lost 3 screens this weekend but only 19% of its gross, taking in $101,000 from 54 screens and bringing its cume to $1,077,000 after eight weeks. That makes the Sony Pictures Classics release only $100,000 or so away from the year's biggest specialty division doc, "Valentino" (though that film is also continuing to do great business, falling just 15% this weekend despite losing screens).
Endgame's other million dollar baby is Rian Johnson's "The Brothers Bloom," which has cumed $2,037,941 in just four weeks. The caper comedy - released by Summit - grossed $425,000 this weekend, from 173 screens. Though while its $2,457 average remains respectable, the film is showing signs of slowing down. It lost 32% of its gross this weekend, despite adding 25 screens. Holding up better was "Easy Virtue," another Endgame production, which added 20 screens and saw its gross grow 32%. The Stephan Elliott period film, released by Sony Pictures Classics, grossed another $219,000, averaging $4,761 and taking its total to $628,000.
Like "Virtue," IFC's "Summer Hours" should hit the $1,000,000 mark within the next week or two. Olivier Assayas' highly acclaimed French family drama grossed another $164,000 this weekend, averaging $3,417 and totaling an impressive $791,000 after 4 weeks.
Here Media’s and Regent Releasing’s Academy Award winning “Departures,” which had the highest PTA of any specialty film last weekend, held up nicely in its second frame. On 16 screens the Japanese import grossed $88,102, finding a solid average of $5,506. The total estimated gross for pic so far after two weeks is $192,442.
Besides "Away We Go," other openers this weekend included Music Box Films' French import "Seraphine," which took in $39,500 from 6 screens. The Séraphine Louis biopic averaged a decent $6,583, but remained a far cry from Music Box's "Tell No One," which opened around this time last summer to a stunning $21,213 average on 8 screens. Similarly mild numbers met Oscilloscope's "Unmistaken Child" and Arthouse Film's "Herb & Dorothy." From its sole location at NYC's Film Forum, "Child" - which follows the 4-year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog - grossed $6,039 over the weekend and totaled $9,500 since Wednesday. "Herb" - the story of art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, launched on 2 screens and averaged a slightly worse $5,021.
Both films can be glad they didn't meet the fate of Aaron Woodley's "Tennessee." Long delayed and co-starring Mariah Carey, the film grossed only $10,000 from 15 screens. Its $667 average means the film will not even find "Glitter"-sized numbers. That 2001 film, infamous for its disastrous critical and financial reception, averaged $2,008 in its opening frame. At least "Tennessee" made it to theaters. Carey's 2002 effort "Wisegirls" went from Sundance to DVD. One can only imagine Oprah-backed fall release "Precious" will break Carey's cinematic losing streak.
Check back with indieWIRE for updated box office information in the coming days.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.