By Brian Brooks | Indiewire November 18, 2008 at 1:45AM
Fox Searchlight's "Slumdog Millionaire" cruised on up the iW BOT over the weekend, opening in limited release with a stellar $36,000 average, while Miramax's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" nestled into second place after an expansion in its second weekend in theaters. The French had a good weekend Stateside with the launch of IFC Films' "A Christmas Tale" (Un conte de Noel) which finished in third place on the indieWIRE box office chart, which is ranked on a per screen average. Fellow Gaul roll out, "Tell No One" by Guillaume Canet enjoyed a nice milestone over the weekend, becoming the largest grossing foreign-language title this year in the U.S.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT is available at indieWIRE.com.
Telluride and Toronto '08 debuter "Slumdog Millionaire" raked in the cash in its opening weekend, taking in $360,018 from only ten locations. Since opening Wednesday, the film directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan has cumed over $427,000.
"Wow, we were thrilled, [the film] passed out expectations," said Fox Searchlight's Senior Vice President of Distribution, Sheila DeLoach to indieWIRE Monday evening. DeLoach credited the Boyle and scribe Simon Beaufoy for their support in getting the word out with extensive pre-release Q&As in addition to the actors who also attended special events with the film, adding, "It's a good movie but the stars are not known to the American audience. It was a challenge to our marketing department. The stars did a lot of publicity, so on the ground [support] helped."
Searchlight plans a steady but slow roll out, with ten additional cities opening this Friday and another expansion for the 26th and another three cities on December 5." "We know it's a word-of-mouth movie," said DeLoach who said the company plans to have the title in 300 theaters after Christmas, and is looking to awards season to augment the film's initial appeal. "If we're fortunate enough to get any nominations that will spur further interest."
"Pajamas" meanwhile expanded by 19 screens, grossing $474,390 from 38 sites, averaging $12,484. In its opening weekend, the film averaged $14,887 from 17 screens, only a 16% decline.
Arnaud Desplechin's Cannes 2008 competition feature "A Christmas Tale" debuted on seven screens in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $63,837 for a $9,128 average. "'A Christmas Tale is off to a great start as the film sold out at multiple locations in NYC and Los Angeles," commented IFC's Vice President of Sales and Distribution, Mark Boxer to indieWIRE Monday. "In a crowded marketplace, 'A Christmas Tale' established itself as a film that should be around through the holiday season with some very strong word of mouth and box office results." Boxer credited the film's "rave reviews" and actor Catherine Deneuve's appeal for driving audiences, adding, "we expect more of the same to follow in other markets." IFC Films will open "Tale" in the top 15 markets next weekend in order to capitalize on positive publicity and holiday crowds.
Profiled earlier this year, Music Box Films' "Tell No One" reached its own milestone over the weekend, with a box office cume of $6.2 million since it first hit theaters in July.