By Brian Brooks | Indiewire August 24, 2005 at 2:10AM
Vitagraph's sex-comedy "El Crimen Perfecto" heisted the premiere position on the specialty box office list last weekend, opening at one location with the highest per screen average in a three-day period that saw moderate averages overall. THINKFilm's doc "The Untold Story of Emmett Till" also rolled out on one screen, placing second on the iW BOT chart, ranked on a per screen basis. Tartan's "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and Wellspring's "Reel Paradise" opened even more modestly. Three big films, however, continue to spike the overall box office numbers, including summer-star "March of the Penguins," as well as relative newcomer "Broken Flowers" and "The Great Raid," which Miramax has opened in nearly 1,000 screens since debuting two-weeks ago.
Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's comedy, "El Crimen Perfecto" opened in New York over the weekend on one screen, taking the iW BOT's top spot from "Broken Flowers," which had a two-week reign at number one (based on a screen average ranking). "'El Crimen Perfecto' took in $9,610, winning the highest screen average, although that number is considerably smaller than the multiple five-digit screen averages seen lately in the chart.
THINKFilm's "The Untold Story of Emmett Till" placed second on the chart, taking in $8,230 at New York's Film Forum on one screen ($13,165 cume since opening on Wednesday). "Film Forum provided the occasion for a ton of press and excellent reviews," commented THINKFilm's U.S. theatrical head, Mark Urman to indieWIRE Monday. "It is the very first step in a long and important journey for this film."
THINKFilm plans to expand the film, which spotlights the murder of a black boy in the 1950s helping to spark the civil rights movement of that decade and the '60s. "We want to make sure that African Americans see the film and our next wave of openings will include Chicago, Atlanta, Jackson, Mississippi (where the trial and murder took place) and Memphis. We can do the well-reviewed prestige documentary thing -- and with the amazing reviews we've gotten, it can play straight indie art houses, but that's not where we want to stop. We want another, broader audience to share the experience."
Urman indicated that the nature of the film, and its director Keith Beauchamp's persistence brought THINKFilm onboard. "[The film] got too big and important to ignore, and Beauchamp proved to be a better marketer than most professionals I come across."
In other openers over the weekend, Tartan Films' "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" played three sties, taking in $9,827 (a $3,276 average) ranking 12th on the chart, while Wellspring's "Reel Paradise" followed immediately after, taking in $3,100 from its one screen debut at the IFC Center in Manattan (a $4,047 cume since its debut last Wednesday).
Focus Features' "Broken Flowers" added 272 screens in its third weekend in theaters, grossing nearly $2.35 million from 390 sites, averaging $6,023, a 59% decline from last week. The film has cumed nearly $6 million, and was the week's second largest absolute earner.
Not surprisingly perhaps, Warner Independent Pictures' "March of the Penguins" was again the chart's biggest breadwinner, taking in nearly $6.5 million on 2,102 screens and averaging $3,086. Last week, the doc averaged $3,320 (a 7% decline) on 2,063 screens. The film's nine-week total is now over $48.44 million.
Miramax's "The Great Raid," also took in seven-figures last weekend, grossing the third largest amount on the chart, mostly due to its high number of screens. The film averaged $1,979 from a $1.82 million weekend at 920 locations (two-week cume, nearly $6.55 million).
Together, "Penguins," "Flowers," and "Raid" represented a whopping $10.65 million, or 82% of the entire specialty gross of $12.95 million last weekend. Collectively, 63 titles played 4,499 screens, compared to 68 films at 4,182 sites the previous week. The entire iW BOT averaged a combined $2,880, a 21% decrease from last weekend's $3,637.
Minus the biggest three earners, the remaining 60 titles took in nearly $2.3 million on 1,087 screens, averaging $2,116, or 27% lower than the iW BOT's total average. Industry-wide, 115 films grossed about $113.83 million on 42,736 screens, averaging $2,664, or 8% below the iW BOT average.
Among the upcoming weekend's openers are "The Baxter" from IFC Films, "Breaking News" from Palm Pictures, Regent Releasing's "Eternal," New Yorker Films' "Games of Love and Chance," Sony Pictures Classics' "The Memory of a Killer (The Alzheimer Case)," Lifesize Entertainment's "Wall," and "We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen" from Rocket Fuel Films.