By Indiewire | Indiewire July 29, 2003 at 2:0AM
"Camp" Solid on Opening Weekend; "Dirty Pretty Things" A Strong Second
by Brian Brooks
IFC Films set up "Camp" in the top spot of the indieWIRE:BOT&tm; its opening weekend. The previous film at number one, "Dirty Pretty Things" opened new screens and came in second, while fellow Miramax release, "Buffalo Soldiers" opened more quietly. Sony Classics rolled out "Masked and Anonymous." And, "The Weather Underground" opened in new theaters, remaining in the top ten.
Todd Graff's musical comedy, "Camp" opened over the weekend, singing all the way to the highest spot on the indieWIRE box office chart as measured by per screen average. The Sundance 2003 feature about a group of outcast kids at a performance summer camp in Upstate New York played three screens in New York and Los Angeles pitched $54,294 at the box office for the weekend, for a high $18,098 per screen average performance.
"[We're] very happy, very excited," Greg Forston, V.P. of distribution at IFC Films told indieWIRE in a conversation by telephone. "To do almost $20,000 at both screens in New York is very satisfying." "Camp" screened at Lincoln Plaza in Manhattan, taking the second highest gross at that venue after "Swimming Pool," but played in a smaller theater. The film also played downtown at the Sunshine Theater, with the second highest grosses after "Dirty Pretty Things." Forston went on to say that momentum built throughout the weekend. "['Camp'] had one Lincoln Plaza sell out on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday, so word of mouth is spreading. The upscale art kind of crowd, people in their 'upper' teens and their early twenties were the main audiences," according to Forston.
For now, "Camp" will remain at the three venues, but will expand on August 8th to ten markets with one screen each and added screens in New York and Los Angeles. "We want to make [the film] an event," Forston added. He added that over the weekend, audiences clapped after each song, and being in too many sites at once "won't be the same experience." Forston cited Fox Searchlight's strategy for "Bend it Like Beckham" in adding screens steadily as an example, but also said that he is tailoring the slow opening strategy to "Camp." IFC Films will add more screens on the 15th and 22nd of August and will be 'everywhere' by Labor Day if all goes well.
Miramax's "Dirty Pretty Things" added three sites for its second weekend in release grossing $100,588 on eight screens for a lovely $12,574 per screen average and a second place finish on the iW: BOT. The film by Stephen Frears has earned $260,222 so far. Miramax, meanwhile, marched "Buffalo Soldiers" into six theaters during the weekend, taking in $30,977 for a per screen average at ease with $5,163 and a seventh place on the iW chart.
Sony Classics opened "Masked and Anonymous" as well, screening in 4 theaters for a $30,783 take (and a $7,696 average). The film, by director Larry Charles, has cumed $37,120 since opening on Thursday.
"The Holy Land" continues to battle into the top BOT tier since release three weeks ago. The CAVU Pictures release played six sites, compared to three the previous weekend, earning $39,567 for a divine $6,595 average and a cume of $106,665. One of those venues was a "half-screen" at the Angelika in Manhattan that it shared with another film.
Mike Figgis' "Hotel" opened on two screens, grossing $12,840. The per screen average was a less than no vacancy $6,420, but placed fifth on the chart.
Still battling strong is doc "The Weather Underground," which grossed $23,108 on four screens after playing exclusively at Manhattan's Film Forum since release two months ago. The Shadow Distribution release averaged $5,777 and has cumed $129,863.
Lions Gate Films bowed multiple Goya winner "Mondays in the Sun" on seven screens taking in $22,401 for a dim $3,200 cume.
Fox Searchlight opener "Lucia, Lucia" debuted slowly at 49 sites, grossing $70,773 for a $1,444 average. Meanwhile, the distributor closed "Garage Days," which opened last weekend. Its take during one week of release was just $32,500. Still, Fox Searchlight continues to score with "Bend it Like Beckham," playing on 119 screens in its 18th weekend of release, the film made $223,567 (a $1,879 average) for a whopping total of over $26.3 million.
Also remaining a box office blessing is Miramax's "City of God." In its 28th weekend of release, the film grossed $8,689 (for a $2,896 average) and has totaled just under $4.5 million.
Next week's openers include Miramax' "The Magdalene Sisters," Paramount Classics' "And Now Ladies and Gentlemen" by Claude Lelouch, gay shorts program "Boys Life 4: Four Play," from Strand and Alan Rudolph's "The Secret Lives of Dentists" from Manhattan Pictures.
BOX OFFICE NOTES AND CLARIFICATIONS:
The right to claim the number one spot is always a big deal for PR reps. Last week, indieWIRE incorrectly reported that Miramax's release of Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things" was the second-highest opening specialty per-screen average of the summer following "Capturing The Friedmans." Indeed "Dirty" does follow "Friedmans" on the list of top openers, as a Miramax press rep boasted to indieWIRE last week, but it did not have the second highest specialty per screen average of the summer, as Miramax claimed. As our friends at Focus Features correctly reminded us, "Swimming Pool" holds the title for the top opening specialty per-screen average of the summer so far. The Francois Ozon film earned an average of $22,102 on its first weekend, July 4-6, on 13 screens. "Capturing The Friedmans" is number two on the list with a $21,718 per-screen average in its opening on the weekend of May 30-June 1, while "Dirty Pretty Things" had an average of $20,102 in its first weekend from July 18-20 on five screens. "Camp" came in at number four with its $18,098 this weekend.
Also worth noting is that sometimes the term "per-screen average" can be a bit misleading. Tipped off by a reporter for a notable daily newspaper, we learned that while Miramax's "Dirty Pretty Things" did open in five theaters on its debut weekend, it technically played on six screens. One of the film's five prints, the one at the Lincoln Square Theater in Manhattan, was in fact screened in two movie theaters. An informal poll of distribution executives revealed that it is customary these days to substitute the number of theaters or prints for the number of screens. So reporting that the film played on 5 screens can be considered accurate. "A theater is a screen," a distribution company chief told us last week when we asked whether it was misleading to inflate the per-screen average by seemingly under-reporting the number of actual screens. Given the size of some venues these days, another long-time distribution exec noted, it's not deceptive to use the theater or print count when reporting grosses.