"Chicago," "Pianist," "Hours" and "Nickelby" Join Specialty Crowd on Final Weekend of 2002

by Eugene Hernandez

"Chicago" opened to a strong holiday box office.

© 2002 Miramax

(indieWIRE: 12.31.02) -- As the year comes to a close, a number of
limited release films are popular with art house moviegoers. Among the
new studio specialty films that joined the fray were "Chicago" from
Miramax, "The Hours" from Paramount/Miramax,
"Nicholas Nicleby" from United Artists, and "The
from Focus.

Stephen Daldry's "The Hours" earned a total of $338,622 in 11
theaters in its first weekend, for an average of $30,784. The film, which
stars the powerhouse trio of Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and
Julianne Moore, is among a number of awards-season contenders that
are shining at the box office.

Miramax releases ran the gamut on the final weekend of the new year.
The screen adaptation of "Chicago" was a hit, earning slightly more
than $2 million on 77 screens for an average of nearly $27,000 in its
debut. In a much wider release, Scorsese's "Gangs of New York"
pulled in nearly $11 million on 2,190 screens for a $4,999 per-screen and a
new cume of just under $30 million. Far less successful was the company's
release of Roberto Benigni's "Pinocchio," which was unveiled
without screenings for critics. The picture earned a slight $1.1 million on
more than 1,100 screens for a tiny per-screen average of
$964. Also from Miramax, "Frida" passed the $20 million mark on 283
screens. It earned $551,484 for a $1,949 average. "Rabbit Proof
earned $434,363 on 84 screens for an average of $5,171 and a new
total of $985,641, and "Ararat" earned $36,021 on 16 screens for a
$2,251 average and a new cume that is just about to hit $1.5 million.

Focus debuted Roman Polanski's "The Pianist," starring Adrien
as pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. The film made $111,261 on six
screens during its first weekend in the U.S. and Canada. It had an average
of $18,544 for a total of $143,197.00 so far. Continuing was the company's
release of Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven." The drama, starring
Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid, passed the $10 million mark as it
earned $646,897 on 230 screens for an average of $2,813.

Sony Pictures Classics widened Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to
to 59 screens in the film's sixth weekend, earning $429,634 for a
solid average of $7,282. The film has earned more than $1.3 million so far.
The company's release of "Auto Focus" earned $18,287 in its 11th
weekend, for a new cume of just under $2 million.

From Cowboy Pictures, Lynne Ramsay's "Movern Callar"
made $11,932 on three screens for an average of $3,977 and a cume of $35,323
after two weekends. Also, the company's "Devils on the Doorstep"
continued its release. It earned $4,342 on one screen for a cume of $12,148
after two weekends.

Over at UA, "Nicholas Nickleby" earned $42,864 on five screens in its
first weekend. The film, which stars Charlie Hunman, Anne
, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent, Miranda
, and Jamie Bell, had an average of $8,573. Continuing
in release is Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine." The doc made
$417,215 on 175 screens in its 12th weekend, for a cume of $2,384 for a new
total of $14.7 million. "Personal Velocity" earned $53,692 in its
sixth weekend. The film had an average of $1,851 for a new cume of $569,631.

Samuel Goldwyn's "El Crimen del Padre Amaro" has passed the $4
million mark. The film made $210,405 over the weekend on 83 screens for an
average of $2,535. While Gold Circle and Samuel Goldwyn teamed to
open Nicholas Cage's "Sonny." The film earned $17,639 in its debut on
six screens for an average of $2,940.

Lastly, in the final weekend of 2002, IFC Films and Gold Circle's
release of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" earned another $2.7 million on
just under 1,000 screens. The film has made nearly $223 million since
its debut in theaters back in the spring.

Opening today is George Clooney's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,"
starring Sam Rockwell as game show host and possible C.I.A. operative
Chuck Barris, while Thomas Riedelsheimer's documentary, "Rivers
and Tides: Andy Goldworthy Working with Time"
will open on Thursday at
Film Forum.