"Dogville" Rises; Sony Classics Maintains B.O. Zen with "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring"
by Brian Brooks
Lions Gate's "Dogville" mounted itself in the number one spot of the indieWIRE: BOT in its second weekend of release, scurrying ahead of "Bon Voyage," which remained a popular destination with moviegoers in second place. Sony Pictures Classics continued its spring forward with a total of eight films in release, rolling out Toronto fest feature "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" to a healthy box office return, which has become a ritual for the specialty distributor of late. Strand Releasing opened two features with one engagement each, while Miramax debuted Hong Kong action/adventure film, "Shaolin Soccer."
The big picture analysis of the specialty box office includes 62 titles on 4,535 screens, which is an increase of two films, although the number of venues declined by 430. Weekend specialty grosses declined to $12.68 million from $14.93 million with "The Passion" representing more than $10 million of that figure. Factoring out that film, the gross is $2.08 million, a decline from $2.3 million last week. The indie per screen average fell 7% to $2,796, versus the industry-wide average of $3,101, a decline of 1%.
Danish director Lars von Trier's "Dogville" starring Nicole Kidman ended the weekend at the box office forefront (as calculated by per screen average), after spending its debut the previous week at number two. The Lions Gate Film's release added five engagements, taking in $109,387 on 14 screens for a $7,813 per screen average, off $2,066 from opening weekend.
Sony Pictures Classics' "Bon Voyage" maintained its smooth sail in theaters, adding one engagement for the French feature directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, grossing $53,262 on seven screens and a robust $7,609 average (down from $9,879). Since opening three weeks ago, it has cumed $175,989.
Fellow Sony Classics film "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" entered the iW BOT in third place on its debut weekend. The Korean film, directed by Kim Ki-duk, opened on six screens in New York and Los Angeles, with a $42,561 take for a $7,094 average.
"The reviews have been good, and the response is terrific," commented Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker in a conversation with indieWIRE on Tuesday. "We're getting an audience that crosses all age lines." Barker continued saying that the New York-based distributor "always loved" the film, and that they were "surprised" it did not receive an Oscar nomination. "It's a ravishingly beautiful [film] telling a simple story that is moving." Sony Classics first saw the film last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, and, according to Barker, "we bought it after the screening." The film will move forward in the next six weeks to the top 50 cities in the United States.
"Bon Voyage" and "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" are two films of a slew of Sony Classics titles that have swelled the company's coffers lately. German feature "Good Bye, Lenin!" remains in the iW: BOT top ten six weeks into its release, grossing $301,074 on 78 screens, an increase of 15 from last week, for a $3,860 average (down by $715 over the previous week). "Lenin" has now cumed over $1.46 million. With a cume slightly above "Lenin," "Monsieur Ibrahim" grossed $185,299 on 76 screens (an increase of five) two months since its debut. "Ibrahim" averaged $2,438, down only $160 from last weekend.
Barker credited the earlier Academy Awards date this year with being a bonus for the company's releases. "We've caught a great time here between the Oscars and the summer blockbusters. The moving up of the Oscars by a month has really helped these films." The annual Academy Awards took place in February this year after AMPAS decided to circumvent some of the allure of rival awards ceremonies by moving the Oscars from its traditional March date. AMPAS recently announced it will do the same next year. "As much as I'd like to say it's just our brilliance, [spring] is a good time for smaller movies. I don't think people have noticed that yet, but we sure have in our numbers."
L.A.-based distributor, Strand Releasing opened two films over the weekend on one screen each. Pierre Chevalier's "Son Frere" took in $6,802 in New York, while "A Thousand Clouds of Peace" grossed $5,793.
In other weekend openers, Miramax debuted "Shaolin Soccer" on six screens, taking in $39,167 for a $6,528 per screen average and a fifth place ranking on the BOT. And, NAATA Distribution debuted "Morning Sun," grossing $3,196.
"The Passion of the Christ" grossed $10.6 million on 3,112 screens, a decrease of 102. The mega-'specialty' release averaged $3,408, down by $510. Since its opening six weeks ago, "Passion"'s cume now tops $330.85 million.
Next week, RKO Pictures will open "Shade" by Damian Neiman, and Wellspring will roll out "Twentynine Palms" by Bruno Dumont.