By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 26, 2009 at 4:33AM
Armando Iannucci's well-reviewed political comedy 'In The Loop' scored in its opening weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The film - described by indieWIRE's Eric Kohn as 'the aesthetics of 'The Office' meeting those of 'The West Wing'' - grossed $200,816 from 8 screens. That gave 'Loop' a $25,102 per-theater-average, among the year's ten best and distributor IFC Films' highest since 'Che' back in December.
'We are thrilled with the numbers for 'In The Loop,'' IFC's Mark Boxer, VP Sales and Distribution told indieWIRE. 'We have been so excited since Sundance to give audiences a chance to see what we believed to be the funniest film of the summer. New York and Los Angeles played to sold out audiences and the word of mouth was through the roof. The film will roll out to the top 15 markets this weekend and the top 50 within three weeks.'
In the midst of its roll out was last weekend's top specialty opener, 'Loop''s fellow Sundance alum, '(500) Days of Summer.' ´Summer' - a romantic comedy starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt - went from 27 to 85 screens and grossed $1,630,000, a 95% increase from last weekend. Its per-theater-average dropped a mild 33% to a still-fantastic $19,176. That's the best second weekend of any specialty release this year, and suggests a very bright future as the film expands in the coming weeks. After just ten days in limited release, the Fox Searchlight release's total stands at $3,004,000.
Undergoing an important expansion this weekend was Summit Entertainment's Iraq War thriller 'The Hurt Locker.' After four weekends of screen counts under 100, Kathryn Bigelow's film finally made a big move, adding 144 screens to take its total to 238. The film saw its grosses rise 97%, taking in $1,457,000. Promising was that the film's previously existing theaters saw their grosses drop only 15%, and the film's overall average dropped only slightly from $7,875 to $6,122. This bodes very well for next weekend, when 'Locker' will hit 500 theaters and try and crack the overall top ten. So far, the film's total stands at $4,034,000.
Other reporting openers this weekend included a duo of self-help book related films that, like the much better received 'Summer' and 'Loop,' also premiered at Sundance '09. Roadside Attractions' Kevin Spacey starrer 'Shrink,' and Magnolia Pictures' Jeff Daniels-Lauren Graham rom-com 'The Answer Man' (or, the film formerly known as 'Arlen Faber') both made underwhelming debuts. Jonas Pate's 'Shrink' fared best, grossing $17,000 from 2 screens, for a fair $8,500 average. John Hindman's 'The Answer Man' managed only $13,000, despite playing on 4 more screens than 'Shrink.' Its $2,167 average suggests there's probably not too many days of summer left for 'The Answer Man.'
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.