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by Indiewire
February 24, 2005 2:00 AM
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"Downfall" Lifts the Specialty Box office; "Bride & Prejudice" Extends Honeymoon in More Theater

"Downfall" Lifts the Specialty Box office; "Bride & Prejudice" Extends Honeymoon in More Theaters

by Brian Brooks



Newmarket's "Downfall" (Der Utergang) staged a specialty box office coup, reaching the chart summit after the Oscar-nominated film in the foreign language category opened at New York's Film Forum. The film outpaced its rival, "Bride & Prejudice," which is screening on nearly three dozen screens, ranking second for the weekend on a per screen average. Shadow Distribution's "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" maintained its lofty ascent on the iW BOT after nesting in extra screens over the four-day holiday weekend, ending Monday, February 21. In other weekend openers, IFC Films' "Turtles Can Fly" winged its way into the top five. Four films earned over seven figures for the week, representing over 75% of the specialty b.o. total, with multiple Oscar-nominee "The Aviator" the biggest absolute grosser on the chart, although film made a screen retreat from the previous week.

Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Downfall" invaded the specialty box office in its single U.S. showing at Film Forum in New York, easily seizing the chart's apex, taking in $24,220. "It's amazing, we sold out 13 of the 16 shows over the weekend, it's through the roof," commented Newmarket Films head Bob Berney in a telephone conversation with indieWIRE Tuesday evening. "The Film Forum has a nice built-in audience, but we also tried to expand ['Downfall'] from its reviews."

Berney said the Oscar Foreign Language Film nominee drew people who have "an interest" in World War II era content. The film also drew on positive word-of-mouth, "even though it's three hours long," said Berney, adding, "It flies by, almost a thriller-style keeping suspense." Newmarket will open the film over the weekend at the Arc Light in Los Angeles, then will continue on to 10 to 12 markets on March 11 and expanding in New York.

"We're hoping it will cross over. Audiences are more acceptable toward subtitles [when there is an] historical context," said Berney. "We want to keep it very limited for a while, and let the word-of-mouth build. I think the film has a big chance to win next Sunday. It's had great Academy screenings [but] win or not, the fact that it's nominated has raised its awareness."

Gurinder Chadha's "Bride & Prejudice" maintained its honeymoon on the "indie" chart in week two of release, playing 32 screens, grossing $384,481. The Bollywood-esque feature averaged $12,015, a very small decline from the previous week, and its cume is now $882,610. "It's terrific, we're very excited. The film showed a lot of potential in the second week," commented Miramax's senior vice president of marketing Gary Faber, in a conversation with indieWIRE Tuesday.

Faber indicated that the film held strong in both commercial as well as art-house venues showing its "cross-over potential." "The three-day [average] was off only three-percent, and Saturday was off only 20%. For me that is a sensational hold." Women made-up the majority of viewers, with the age skewing toward the younger crowd. The Paris Theater in New York, which typically draws a comparatively mature audience, has also drawn a younger set since the film's release.

Despite the film's initial success, Faber does not see "Bride & Prejudice" as a conduit for a Bollywood invasion of the U.S. in the future. "I don't see [this release indicating] a long-term Bollywood film [presence] in the United States. This film is a 'spoof' of a Bollywood film  it's not as serious as [typical] Bollywood films. It has an American touch."

Miramax will add 130 runs this week in the U.S. and Canada, including 12 additional runs in suburban New York, and 10 in Los Angeles, and will continue into the top 40 markets. "Bride & Prejudice" will play a mix of commercial sites that play to "an upscale fare" as well as art-houses. Faber indicated Miramax hopes to continue to build the film to up to 800 prints.

Shadow Releasing's "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" added seven locations over the President's weekend, taking in $104,986. The film averaged $8,749, a 16% increase from its opening weekend. In two weeks, the film has totaled $169,170.

In other openers, IFC Films debuted "Turtles Can Fly" at four locations, grossing $29,107 ($7,277 average), ranking fourth on the chart. TLA Releasing's "Harry and Max" played on one screen with $5,163, while Regent Releasing's "Naked Fame" screened with a bare $3,315.

Miramax's multi-Academy Award nominee "The Aviator" was the specialty chart's biggest money-maker, with nearly $5 million taken in. The film landed on 1,710 screens with a $2,880 average, a 26% increase from the previous week, although the film had 486 fewer engagements. In its 10-week release, the film has cumed nearly $89 million.

"The Aviator" along with fellow Oscar nominees "Sideways," "Hotel Rwanda," and "Finding Neverland" grossed seven figures over the weekend, representing over $13.44 million, or 76% of the entire iW BOT's $17.746 million total. Overall, the 65 films included on the chart averaged $2,854 on 6,217 screens. Minus the top four grossers, the remaining 61 titles took in over $4.3 million on 1,717 screens with an average of $2,507, 22% below the overall average.

Jan Hrebejk's "Up and Down" (Horem pádem) from Sony Pictures Classics is among this weekend's specialty openers.

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