By Indiewire | Indiewire August 5, 2003 at 2:0AM
"Camp" Sings Box office High Note; "Magdalene Sisters" Clean up On Opening Weekend
by Brian Brooks
IFC Films continued to perch atop the iW: BOT with its release of "Camp," maintaining the same three screens in New York and Los Angeles. Miramax, meanwhile, graced five screens for its bow of "The Magdalene Sisters," coming in at number two on the chart as measured by per screen average. Strand Releasing's "Boys Life 4" debuted nicely on one New York screen, while "The Secret Lives of Dentists" chiseled its way into the top tier.
Todd Graff's "Camp" sung just as loudly in week one as it did in week two, hiking once again to the iW: BOT summit and grossing $53,327 at three sites for a fab $17,776 per screen average. IFC Films' strategy to maximize audiences and word of mouth in each site to create "an event," as the distributor's Greg Forston told indieWIRE last week, appears to be working. Also sure to be a boost is the appearance of the "Camp" kids on David Letterman Monday night. The film, so far, has made $142,678. It will expand to additional markets on Friday.
Miramax opened its controversial feature "The Magdalene Sisters" to mass Gotham and L.A. audiences taking in $84,553 from five sites. The Venice and Toronto-winning feature by Peter Mullan averaged a per screen tithe of $16,911 for second place on the iW chart. At Lincoln Plaza in Manhattan, the film was the weekend's biggest draw, grossing over $32,000, more than $9,000 more than the venue's second best showing, "Camp." "We're extremely gratified at the film's success," Miramax S.V.P. of corporate communications Matthew Hiltzik told indieWIRE yesterday. "[We're] especially gratified at the success of this challenging film [which deals] with such a difficult subject matter. It gives those of us in the independent film business faith in what we do."
Miramax has received phone calls daily from people on both sides of the controversy revealed in the film, which explores women who were forced, by the Roman Catholic Church, to labor in horrific conditions in Irish laundries for their perceived iniquities. Miramax indicated that audiences were from a broad base, but skewed towards women and people over 25. The film will remain in New York and Los Angeles exclusively until August 15th when it will open in the top ten markets in addition to suburban New York and L.A. followed by the top 20 markets on August 22nd.
63 films are tracked this week on the indieWIRE: BOT chart of specialty releases. The crop earned $6.25 million which is a jump from recent weeks when grosses for the tracked films hovered in the $4 million range. Specialty titles screened on more than 2,700 screens.
Strand Releasing's four shorts collage "Boys Life 4" debuted at the Quad Cinema in New York scoring as top earner at that venue over the weekend. The package of shorts ranks third on the BOT.
Alan Rudolph's drama "The Secret Lives of Dentists" bowed on 12 screens over the weekend, grossing $121,769. The Manhattan Pictures International release earned a earned a solid $10,147 per site, and fourth place on the chart.
"Dirty Pretty Things" from Miramax remained strong in its third weekend in theaters, screening at 39 sites, up from eight the previous week and coming in fifth on the BOT with a $363,218 gross and a $9,313 per screen average. The film has, so far, cumed $680,765.
Paramount Classics' "And Now Ladies & Gentlemen" opened in six theaters with $49,176 over the weekend. Its per screen average was $8,196, and the film ranks sixth in the chart in its debut.
Notable on the chart this week is Rolf Schubel's "Gloomy Sunday" from Neil Friedman's Menemsha, which made more than $7,000 in its run at the Wilmette Theater in Wilmette, IL. The melodrama set in Budapest has screened exclusively at that theater for seven weeks and made more than $74,000 at the venue. According to a Roger Ebert review touting the movie, the picture was a hit in New Zealand where it played at an Aukland theater for more than one year.
In other box office news, Fox Searchlight added hundreds of screens to its hit "Bend it Like Beckham," for its 19th weekend of release. The film played 1002 sites earning over $1.8 million, but averaged $1,809 ($1,879 average the previous week). "Beckham" has cumed just under $28.3 million.
This coming week, James Ivory's "Le Divorce" opens as well as Julie Lopes-Curval's "Bord de Mer" (Seaside) along with Dana Brown's doc, "Step into Liquid" and Shinsuke Sato's "The Princess Blade."