Joe Berlinger's doc "Crude" led a batch of newcomers at the specialty box office this weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The film - which tells the story of lawsuit against Chevron over contamination of the Ecuadorean Amazon - grossed $16,729 on a sole screen at New York's IFC Center. Since opening on Wednesday, the film has taken in $21,967. This comes amidst controversy in which Chevron attempted to discredit the movie as "long on emotion, and short on facts." "Crude" expands to Los Angeles on September 18th, which over 30 more markets scheduled to follow.
Also opening nicely this weekend was another environmentally conscious doc - Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein's "No Impact Man." Released through Oscilloscope, the film - which follows the Manhattan-based Beavan family as they abandon their high consumption 5th Avenue lifestyle and try to live a year while making no net environmental impact - grossed an estimated $17,000 from two screens. Its showing at the Angelika in New York - where the Beavans did a Q&A - did particularly well, grossing $13,000.
Other openers included Richard Eyre's "The Other Man," which stars Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, and debuted at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. On eight screens, "Man" grossed a mild $56,605, averaging $7,076. It narrowed beat the opening per-theater-average of Dave Boyle's "White on Rice" (though considering the star power of "Man," the two are incomparable). "Rice," starring Hiroshi Watanabe as a 40-year old man who lives at his sister's house, grossed $10,200 on two screens, averaging $5,1000 for Variance Films.
Focus Features opened its second major animated film of 2009 (after February's hugely successful "Coraline") in Shane Acker's "9." On 1,661 screens, the film opened on Wednesday (or 9/9/09) and has since grossed a decent $15,264,000. $10,856,000 of that came from the weekend, where "9" averaged $6,536. Though certainly not "Coraline"-sized numbers, it's my no means a disappointment considering both its modest budget, and the marketing challenged nature of its dark, post-apocalyptic premise. It stands as the fourth biggest opening for a PG-13 rated animated film (behind "The Simpsons Movie," "Beavis and Butthead Do America," and "Final Fantasy").
Among holdovers, R.J. Cutler's Anna Wintour doc "The September Issue" made an ambitious leap in its screen account, expanding out of the New York area and into 111 screens. The move found promising numbers, grossing $730,000 (a number that only a handful of 2009 docs have surpassed in their total grosses). The Roadside Attractions release only saw its average drop from $7,303 to $6,577.
"We're very happy with our expansion," Roadside Attractions' Howard Cohen told indieWIRE. "The film shows strength in lots of markets and in both urban and suburban situations. Our Manhattan grosses actually went up from last weekend, a nice sign."
"The September Issue"'s total now stands at $1,283,000 - already making it one of the 100 highest grossing documentaries of all time.
Finally, another film passed a significant milestone this weekend. Quentin Tarantino's hugely successful "Inglourious Basterds" grossed $6,546,000 in its fourth weekend - taking its total to $104,309,000. That makes it distributor Weinstein Company's very first $100 million grosser, and Tarantino's first since 1994's "Pulp Fiction." "Fiction" grossed $107,928,762 - a number "Basterds" should surpass sometime this week.
Check back with indieWIRE Monday for updated information about this weekend's box office.
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.