"Control Room" Maintains its Territory at Number One; "Saved!" Debuts with Mass Appeal
by Brian Brooks
"Control Room" entrenched itself at the summit of the specialty box office for a second week, again drawing large numbers in limited release in New York. United Artists was blessed with a divine per screen take for its film "Saved!" which debuted over the weekend, ranking second on the iW BOT, while Sony Classics' "The Mother" labored its way into the top tier of the chart in its bow. Seventh Art Releasing opened "Word Wars" at sixth on the chart, based on per screen average, and "Super Size Me" continued to ring up a banquet of ticket sales in its fourth week in theaters.
During the four-day Memorial Day weekend, iW BOT tracked 70 films, a decrease of seven from the previous week, with 1,875 screens devoted to specialty titles (a decline of 218). Overall, the specialty box office grossed $4.82 million ($3.18 million last week). During the four-day Memorial weekend in 2003, the total weekend gross was $6.37 million from 57 titles on 2,118 screens (for an overall per screen average of $3,008 last year compared to $2,571 for the current four-day time period).
Magnolia Pictures continued its b.o. onslaught with "Control Room" over the four-day holiday weekend, easily topping the chart with a $34,270 gross (compared to $27,125 in its 3-day opening weekend). The film's daily per screen average dipped only slightly in the Friday through Sunday period at Film Forum where it remained as an exclusive engagement, with a cume of $86,600 so far. June 9th, the film will venture east and north in Manhattan to the Sunshine Theater and the Lincoln Plaza.
United Artists opened Brian Dannelly's Christian high school satire "Saved!" on 20 screens reaping a $459,386 tithe from audiences for a heavenly $22,969 per screen average. "We are very pleased with the opening, which came in on the high end of our expectations," said Erik Lomis president of distribution at MGM and UA, in comments to indieWIRE yesterday. Lomis indicated that the audience was weighted toward the under 25 market, and "mostly female." "We knew there was an audience for a smart, irreverent, and subversive comedy" added MGM/UA president of marketing Peter Adee. "We just had to find it. The audience we found is heavily influenced by reviews, and the critics have embraced the movie."
Meanwhile, UA's "Coffee & Cigarettes" remains a favorite indulgence for audiences in its third weekend out, taking in $362,532 on 36 screens, an increase of 19, for a $10,070 average (a decrease of $1,488 or only 13%).
Sony Pictures Classics debuted "The Mother" by Roger Michell in New York and Los Angeles Friday at seven venues. The film grossed $79,560 for a comforting per screen average of $11,366. The New York-based specialty distributor also opened "Baadasssss!" on 14 screens, taking in $60,432 for an average of $4,317.
Self-distributed film "My Mother Likes Women" continued to perform well at one venue in its second weekend of release. The film took in an additional $11,024, bringing its cume to $24,924.
Seventh Art Releasing, meanwhile opened "Word Wars" by Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo on one screen. The film took in a respectable $7,559, giving it a sixth placement on the chart. Magnolia Pictures also opened its film "Bukowski: Born into This" last week, taking it to five screens for a $35,685 gross.
Morgan Spurlock's doc "Super Size Me" ballooned onto 197 screens (an increase of 49), grossing over $1.4 million. The Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn release averaged $7,114, a $535 or nearly 8% increase from last week. The film has now cumed over $4.34 million.
Tian Zhuangzhuang's "Springtime in a Small Town" climbed into the iW BOT's top ten in its third weekend of release, grossing $9,577 on two screens ($4,789 average) for a cume of $32,867. "The opening weekend in New York didn't quite live up to the roundly positive reviews the film received, but I still felt it generated respectable grosses," commented Neal Block, director of theatrical distribution at Palm Pictures to indieWIRE yesterday. "Our L.A. opening this holiday weekend was helped by great press, and we managed to fare better than a number of other recent Asian films in L.A., with a $7,044 gross on one screen."
Block indicated the audiences for the film skew toward the older and Asian demographic as well as the regular "arthouse" audiences. Going forward, Palm will roll out the film slowly over the next two months with upcoming playdates in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Boston. "I'm aiming it towards theaters that tend to do well with Asian films. I think this is a special movie, and it needs the right handling. So far, I've been happy with the response," Block concluded.
In other releases, Zeitgeist's Georgian-set (the country, not the state) feature "Since Otar Left" played 10 screens, grossing $46,888 for a nice fifth week per screen average of $4,689. The film has cumed $187,541. Televisa Cine's comedy "A Day Without a Mexican" spent its second weekend on 107 screens, taking in $434,940 for a $4,065 per screen average. "Mexican" has totaled just over $2 million.
Miramax will open "Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi" next weekend by Takeshi Kitano, while Zeitgeist will debut Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott's doc, "The Corporation." And, ThinkFilm will bow Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni's "The Story of the Weeping Camel" in New York.