Docs "Friedmans" and "Spellbound" Continue Solid at the Box Office
by Brian Brooks
The specialty box office had a somewhat quiet weekend in the last week of June, with no films achieving the $10K mark in per screen average. New Yorker Films topped the indieWIRE: BOT chart, playing on one screen, while "Bohnoeffer" and "Whale Rider" took the second and third spots respectively. Meanwhile, docs "Capturing the Friedmans" and "Spellbound" continue to sell, well into their theater runs.
Pavel Lounguine's "Tycoon: A New Russian" topped the box office chart as measured by per screen average over the weekend, playing on one screen at New York's Lincoln Plaza and grossing $8,010. Yet "Whale Rider," which also screened at Lincoln Plaza, however, topped the gross of films playing that venue with a $14,722 take. So far, "Tycoon" has cumed $39,120
First Run Features' "Bonhoeffer" also played one site in New York, at the Quad Cinema earning $6,685 over the weekend and coming in second on the iW: BOT. Fifth ranked "Friday Night," from Wellspring had a $9,226 take at the Quad, and 12th placed "Spellbound" topped the Quad's list with $10,020. "Friday Night" played a total of two screens for a $9,840 weekend gross, or a $4,920 per screen average and a fifth rank on the chart. Since release seven weeks ago the film by Claire Denis has cumed $48,098.
Newmarket's "Whale Rider" is a summer hit, playing 163 U.S. screens, coming in third on the chart with a solid $5,999 per screen average and a $977,791 gross. Now in its fourth weekend in release, the New Zealand film has already totaled over $2.3 million.
Shadow Distribution's "Weather Underground" continued its exclusive release at Film Forum in downtown Manhattan, placing fourth on the iW: BOT and topping the grosses of films playing that venue. The doc took in $5,557 and has cumed $69,629 since its bow one month ago.
"Winged Migration" continued in its eleventh week in release. The Oscar-nominated doc played 79 venues grossing $348,597 and a 7th place spot on the chart with a $4,413 average. The film also comfortably passed the $4 million mark.
Doc "Capturing the Friedmans" by Andrew Jarecki continues to pack a box office wallop five weeks in theaters, playing 25 markets and 60 sites. The Magnolia Pictures release grossed $251,602 ($4,193 average) rounding out the top ten on the iW box office chart, and handily passing the million dollar mark with a cume of over $1.1 million. "I think it's kind of reassuring that a film with such a complex, not easily digestible subject matter has been so resonant with people," commented Magnolia head Eamonn Bowles to indieWIRE. Bowles continued saying that the film will play 70 screens during the upcoming holiday weekend and that the film is, "maintaining its screens and [Magnolia will] just keep adding screens and markets all summer long. I feel pretty confident we'll be playing strong through Labor Day." Bowles also commented that "Friedmans" has had "very few" markets where it hasn't "performed at least solidly."
Fellow doc "Spellbound" also continues to be a summer specialty hit nine weeks into its release. The Jeff Blitz directed film has cumed over $2.6 million after grossing $329,688 over the weekend on 117 screens. Its per screen average was $2,818 placing the film 12th on the iW: BOT, but the doc continued to garner $10K-plus grosses as noted. "It has already exceeded our expectations and each week, though we raise the bar for satisfaction, each week that bar is met! Word-of-mouth has been exceptionally strong," commented THINKFilm head of distribution Mark Urman. "I can safely say that in all my years doing this, I have never had a film reach this level of box office, with as little spent in [prints and advertising]." Urman said the film is particularly strong in New York and Los Angeles adding that Los Angeles is "particularly gratifying because it is actually not a very good market for specialized films and certainly not for documentaries."
"Spellbound" is still set to open in Nashville, Knoxville, and Phoenix according to Urman. "We are currently on 117 screens and should stay on over 100 for the next few weeks."
Openers this week on the Independence Day holiday weekend in the U.S. will include Monica Stambrini's "Gasoline" and Francois Ozon's Cannes competition entry, "Swimming Pool."