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"Capote" Thrills the Specialty Box office Again; "Ushpizin" Debuts Strong

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire October 25, 2005 at 5:47AM

Sony Pictures Classics' "Capote" staged a mini-slaughter of the specialty box office last weekend after another sizeable expansion, re-taking the iW BOT's premiere position one-month into its release. Picturehouse's "Ushpizin" debuted at number two after opening at a half-dozen venues and an unconventional initial roll out, while fellow newcomer "After Innocence" from New Yorker Films placed third on the chart, as measured on a per screen basis. Last week's number one film, "Good Night, and Good Luck" maintained momentum after Warner Independent Pictures added over 150 screens, earning it a strong average and the second highest absolute grosses for a specialty title. New Line's "A History of Violence," meanwhile, remained the chart's top single grosser, although with somewhat of a fifth week contraction.
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Sony Pictures Classics' "Capote" staged a mini-slaughter of the specialty box office last weekend after another sizeable expansion, re-taking the iW BOT's premiere position one-month into its release. Picturehouse's "Ushpizin" debuted at number two after opening at a half-dozen venues and an unconventional initial roll out, while fellow newcomer "After Innocence" from New Yorker Films placed third on the chart, as measured on a per screen basis. Last week's number one film, "Good Night, and Good Luck" maintained momentum after Warner Independent Pictures added over 150 screens, earning it a strong average and the second highest absolute grosses for a specialty title. New Line's "A History of Violence," meanwhile, remained the chart's top single grosser, although with somewhat of a fifth week contraction.

[View the indieWIRE:BOT Box Office Table for this week's films here.]


Bennett Miller's critically lauded feature "Capote" showed some box office chutzpah in its fourth weekend of release, re-taking the number one spot on the iW BOT's list of specialty releases with an $11,818 per screen average after adding 22 screens, a less than 3% drop from last week's $12,129 average. The film grossed $614,527 from 52 sites, and has cumed over $2.18 million.


Gidi Dar's story of a religious couple suffering a financial crisis, "Ushpizin," debuted at six locations, taking the number two position on the chart with a $10,737 average. The film grossed $64,423 and has cumed $85,007 since opening last Wednesday.


"The film did well, we're happy," Picturehouse president Bob Berney told indieWIRE Tuesday afternoon by phone. "The core audience was very religious and skewed older." Picturehouse decided to take the film to what it considered a natural audience for the feature initially to help generate momentum for the film's debut, organizing screenings over the weekend in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Hasidic population. "We screened at F.D.R. high school in Boro Park (tickets were $10) where we rented an auditorium, and the ultra-Orthodox community really came out to see the film. We [had to] turn away about 400 to 500 people. Lincoln Plaza, [however], had a good mixture of art-house, Jewish and some ultra-religious people," added Berney who said they felt the need to take the film to Boro Park because some audiences there might be hesitant to attend a film at a traditional cinema.


Going forward, Picturehouse hopes the film's themes will resonate outside Jewish circles as well. "The film shows a specific world, but also has something universal too. We're hopeful it [will] find a broader audience and will cross over to other religious groups including Christians [who] might find the story appealing," said Berney who mentioned that the film was picked up after its screening at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. Former Newmarket exec Beth English first viewed the film at the Berlinale earlier in the year.


Picturehouse will take "Ushpizin" to additional non-traditional venues in Long Island, NY and New Jersey soon and will most likely go to additional cities by November 23 in a slow roll out. "We won't add much in December because of the opening of bigger studio films then, but may continue opening [new markets] in January."


Also opening over the weekend was Jessica Sanders' doc "After Innocence," which debuted at one location, grossing $10,194, placing it third on the chart in terms of screen average, while Televisa Cine's "El Vacilon: The Movie" debuted on 30 screens, grossing $284,000 for a $9,467 screen average.


In other openers, THINKFilm's doc "Protocols of Zion" opened four locations, taking in $21,733 ($5,433 average), while its marriage-a-troi doc by Susan Kaplan "Three of Hearts" opened one site, with $4,482. First Look's "Emmanuel's Gift" opened in six screens, taking in $14,642 ($2,440 average) and Vitagraph's "The Roost" had three locations, grossing $2,926 ($975 average), while New Yorker Films' "Sequins" had one site, taking in $825.


David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" again lead the specialty pack in terms of absolute box office dollars, grossing almost $2.7 million on 1,308 screens. The film averaged $2,064, down 23% from last week's 2,671 and the film played 40 fewer locations according to the latest update. It's five-week cume is a smashing $26.3 million.


George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" added 157 runs for its third weekend in release, grossing the second most money in the chart with a nearly $2.26 million weekend take on 225 screens. The feature averaged $10,041 (ranking fourth in the chart), or about 45% lower than the previous weekend's $18,305 figure, while its cume is over $4.54 million.


The combined grosses of "A History of Violence" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" represented nearly $5 million, or 60% of the entire weekend specialty box office total of about $8.23 million. In all, 73 titles reported grosses on 3,170 screens calculating the iW BOT average to $2,595, 12% greater then last week's $2,291. One week prior, 71 "indie" films played 3,566 locations with an $8.171 million combined gross.


Factoring out the two biggest grosser, the remaining titles on the chart took in almost $3.27 million on 1,637 screens, averaging $1,997 or 23% lower then the iW BOT average. Industry-wide, 130 films grossed $88.59 million on 41,593 screens, averaging $2,130, or 18% below the overall iW BOT average.


Among this week's specialty openers are Zeitgeist's "Ballets Russes" and First Independent Pictures' "New York Doll." Warner Independent Pictures will debut "Paradise Now," and Lions Gate will open "Three... Extremes."





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