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Box Office: "Vegas" Top Debut; "Creation," "Life" Fade

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 31, 2010 at 6:21AM

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Hue Rhodes's "Saint John of Vegas" topped all releases with its $11,222 per-theater average. The film - starring Steve Buscemi, Romany Malco, Sarah Silverman and Peter Dinklage - grossed a decent $22,443 from its 2 theaters.
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According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Hue Rhodes's "Saint John of Vegas" topped all releases with its $11,222 per-theater average. The film - starring Steve Buscemi, Romany Malco, Sarah Silverman and Peter Dinklage - grossed a decent $22,443 from its 2 theaters.

"Vegas" was the first film released through IndieVest, a Los Angeles-based company providing independent film financing for filmmakers and producers. The company's innovative approach involves supporting independent film production by providing guaranteed theatrical distribution.

"Not only is it a fantastic comedy with a phenomenal cast, including Steve Buscemi who is pound-for-pound the world's greatest actor, but it was made by a forward thinking company, IndieVest, whose revolutionary approach to film financing and distribution just might be laying the groundwork for future generations," CineVegas Artistic Director Trevor Groth had said back when the film premiered as the fest's opening night film.

Beyond "Vegas" (which was the only specialty debut reporting estimates), two films suffered something of a sophomore slump after promising debuts last weekend.

"To Save a Life" - the latest faith based release from IDP/Samuel Goldwyn (following 2008's box office sensation and Kirk Cameron opus "Fireproof") - debuted last weekend to an impressive $1,499,400 from 441 screens. On less screen, the film dropped off to $660,000 this weekend, averaging only $1,500. The film's total stands at a respectable $2,496,508 (though - again - no "Fireproof," which ended up with a $33 million gross).

Also in its second weekend was Newmarket's release of Jon Amiel's Charles Darwin biopic "Creation." Starring real-life husband and wife Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, the film went from 7 to 12 screens and grossed $39,599. Though certainly not disastrous, its $3,230 average doesn't bode well for future expansion. After 10 days, "Creation"'s total stands at $107,247.

Beyond those films, most other specialty holdovers were the remaining awards hopefuls. Scott Cooper's "Crazy Heart" was the most impressive of the lot (save of course for studio awards hopeful "Avatar," which is just a few million dollars away from topping "Titanic"'s domestic haul). "Heart" - starring Jeff Bridges in a role likely to win him an Oscar - expanded 146 screens to 239, grossing a potent $2,250,000. Its $9,414 average should make distributor Fox Searchlight quite happy considering the film is now in its 7th weekend of release.

A pair of Sony Classics Oscar contenders also found good numbers. Michael Hoffman's "The Last Station" continued its slow expansion, going from 8 to 9 screens and seeing a slight 8% dropoff. The film - starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer in roles likely to earn them Oscar nods - grossed $90,800 and averaged $10,089 - the second highest average overall. "Station"'s total stands at $349,900.

SPC's release of Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" hit 22 screens in its 5th weekend, seeing a 5% increase in grosses as it hit $120,500 and averaged $5,477. "Ribbon"'s total now stands at $615,000 going into a likely bid for the foreign language film Oscar.

Other awards holdovers included Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air," which topped the $70 million mark in its 9th weekend; Tom Ford's "A Single Man," which hit $5 million; Jean-Marc Vallée's "The Young Victoria," which added another $584,000 to its now $7.7 million haul; and Lee Daniels' "Precious," which hit $45.5 million going into a likely boost from Oscar nominations.

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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..