By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 5, 2009 at 4:27AM
With fairly few specialty newcomers finding their way to theaters this holiday weekend, Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" had no trouble hanging on to its place at the top of the iW BOT. The Iraq War thriller - likely riding its Oscar-buzz worthy reviews - expanded from 4 to 9 screens this weekend, and found a $126,000 three-day gross. While its $14,000 per-theater-average is less than half its near 2009 high opening, it remained the highest average of any film - "Transformers" and "Ice Age" included - currently in theaters. This comes after some fantastic mid-week numbers, where it grossed $20-30,000 a day, often placing it in the overall top twenty despite being in just a tiny fraction of its competitors' screens. The film's true test comes next weekend, where it leaves the specialty safety net that can be New York and Los Angeles for smaller markets, 17 of them to be exact. As of Sunday, the Summit Entertainment release's total stood at $365,000.
"Locker"'s closest PTA competition came care of some fantastic fourth-week numbers from Duncan Jones' "Moon." The film went from 21 to 47 screens and actually saw its average rise from $5,933 to $6,383. Its $300,000 gross put the Sony Pictures Classic sci-fi drama just short of the million mark at $983,000. Crossing that mark (and the $2 million mark) this weekend weekend was the third weekend of another Sony Classics' release - Woody Allen's "Whatever Works." The film had a aggressive expansion from 35 to 355 screens, and totaled $1,067,000 over the three-day weekend, bringing its total to $2,017,000. Though that's still a far cry from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"'s $23,216,709, "Works" has already outgrossed last year's lesser known Woody output, "Cassandra's Dream," and should overtake the $3 million range grosses of "Melinda and Melinda" and "Anything Else" by next weekend.
Less pleasant news met Stephen Frears' "Cheri" this weekend, which grossed another $388,000 on an expanded 140 screens, up 64 from last weekend's debut. However, considering the film's suggested star power in Michelle Pfeiffer, its performance must continue to disappoint distributor Miramax. Despite nearly double the screens, the film's gross dropped 5% from last weekend. "Cheri"'s total now stands at $1,024,000.
Among the few newcomers this weekend, Agnes Varda's "The Beaches of Agnes" found the best numbers. The Cinema Guild release - an autobiographical documentary that indieWIRE's Michael Koresky called "a mostly enchanting stroll down memory lane" - grossed $19,878 on three screens over the weekend, and totaled $23,214 since Thursday. Though not overwhelming numbers, they fall almost perfectly in line with Varda's "The Gleaners and I," which averaged $6,327 on two screens in July, 2001. That film's final tally was $155,320.
Magnolia Pictures's release of Anne Fontaine's "The Girl From Monaco" fared slightly worse than "Agnes" average wise, though it opened on a comparatively wide 21 screens. "Monaco" grossed an estimated $90,000 over the three day weekend, giving it a fair $4,286 average. The distributor found better news from one of its holdovers - doc "Food, Inc." - which crossed the million dollar mark Thursday and is fastly approaching "Every Little Step" and "Valentino: The Last Emperor" to become the year's top specialty doc. The Robert Kenner directed film grossed $240,000 on 83 screens, averaging $2,892 and totaling $1,275,000.
The only newcomer that has yet to report numbers is Nia Vardalos' critically destroyed "I Hate Valentine's Day." Check back for an official update.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.