By Brian Brooks | Indiewire August 10, 2005 at 5:02AM
Focus Features seems to have found a lasting relationship with Jim Jarmusch's latest effort "Broken Flowers." The film opened this weekend in over two dozen sites, raking in a very solid performance, topping the iW box office table in a weekend that saw a few high profile specialty openers. Sony Pictures Classics scored well with its Wong Kar Wai feature "2046," debuting on several screens with a nearly equally impressive screen average while the distributor's other weekend release, "Junebug" performed more moderately. Warner Independent Pictures' specialty blockbuster "March of the Penguins" continued its reign as the iW BOT's biggest cash cow, with a huge expansion over the weekend fetching grosses in the high seven figures, padding a specialty box office that out-performed the industry-wide screen average for the second weekend in a row.
Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers" scented the specialty box office with the sweet smell of money, with the chart topping film grossing the second highest earnings on the iW BOT over the weekend, and scoring the biggest screen average. The Focus Features release took in $780,408 on 27 screens during the Friday to Sunday period ending August 7th, with a very strong $28,904 average.
"Amazement and joy... Everyone at Focus is delighted by this record- setting opening," said Focus' head of distribution, Jack Foley in a conversation with indieWIRE on Tuesday afternoon, when asked to give his reaction to the film's opening weekend. "If one looks over the last 20 years and see the range of [specialty] films opening in 20 to 30 theaters, in that context, Jarmusch's film was the second biggest opening after 'Lost in Translation.' It's phenomenal considering [Jarmusch's] 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai' did $3 million all together." Foley said the film brought out the usual Jarmusch fans, but also appealed to a broader audience. "We did exit [polling] in [select] cities, and the demographics were broad in all markets. [Additionally] the Sunday share of the gross was well above what films of this type would typically be. The sell-outs were phenomenal."
Focus Features will add 18 screens in the New York area beginning Friday, with further expansions planned for Los Angeles and Boston. The company is eyeing the 300-screen mark by the 19th of August. "We're being very disciplined, but it sure seems like a big movie to me. It's Jim breaking out, and he's breaking out in his terms," said Foley. "It's incredibly satisfying for people who see this film. It has a broad acceptance, and it's being met with a tremendous response."
Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's Cannes 2004 feature "2046" debuted on four screens last weekend, placing second on the chart. The Sony Classics release grossed $113,074, for a very solid $28,269 average. The company's other weekend rollout, meanwhile ranked fifth on the chart. "Junebug" debuted at seven sites, taking in $74,739 for a moderate $10,677 per screen average.
In other openers, International Film Circuit's Viennale '04 winning doc, "Darwin's Nightmare" opened on one screen at the IFC Center in New York's Greenwich Village, ranking eighth on the chart, taking in $8,072. Miramax's "Secuestro Express" debuted on eight screens, grossing $43,281 ($5,410 average), while Samuel Goldwyn Films' "Saint Ralph" opened at 61 locations, grossing $140,881 ($2,310 average). DEJ Productions' "My Date with Drew" played 58 sites, grossing $85,223 ($1,469 average), while Picturehouse's "Chumscrubber" opened on 28 screens, taking in $28,548 ($1,020 average), and First Run/Icarus Films' "Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision" earned $642 at one location.
Warner Independent Pictures' summer winner "March of the Penguins" continued its long supremacy over the specialty box office as the chart's biggest earner. The company added 1,089 screens over the weekend, taking in over $7.11 million from 1,867 sites. "Penguins"' per screen average dipped 26% in its seventh weekend out to $3,812, while the film's cume is more than $26.4 million. In relation to the entire box office chart's 79 titles reported from last weekend, "Penguins" consumed 69% of the entire iW BOT's nearly $10.3 million gross.
Overall, specialty releases averaged $3,253 from 3,126 screens devoted to indie content, a 1% decline from last week's $3,275 average on 1,855 screens. Factoring out "March of the Penguins," the remaining 78 titles on the chart averaged $2,448, 25% below the iW BOT average. The 78 titles on the chart grossed nearly $3.2 million, with "Broken Flowers" representing about 25% of that figure. Industry- wide, 122 films took in about $114.63 million on 39,330 screens, averaging $2,915, or 11% below the iW BOT average.
The upcoming weekend's openers include Paramount Classics' "Asylum," and Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions' "Pretty Persuasion." Also opening are "Grizzly Man" from Lions Gate Films, and "A State of Mind" from Kino International.