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by Brian Brooks
September 27, 2005 10:59 AM
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"History of Violence" Blasts Specialty Box office; "Occupation: Dreamland" Invades

A scene from David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence," which opened last weekend. Image courtesy of New Line.

New Line rolled out David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" in over a dozen theaters last weekend, wrestling the premiere position on the indieWIRE BOT's list of specialty releases, ranked on a per screen basis. Fox Searchlight's "Separate Lies" took the chart's second position, while last week's number one, "Proof" slipped to the third spot following a hefty second week expansion. Rumur Releasing debuted "Occupation: Dreamland" at one location, placing fourth on the chart, while TLA Releasing's "Dorian Blues" rounded out the top five. Miramax's "An Unfinished Life" and Warner Independent Pictures' "March of the Penguins" maintained seven-figure grosses over the weekend, but their overall share of the specialty box office dipped below fifty percent.

[View the indieWIRE:BOT Box Office Table for this week's films here.]

Cronenberg's drama/thriller "A History of Violence" opened on 14 screens, nabbing the iW BOT's apex with a $36,857 per screen average on grosses of $515,992. The film also finished fourth overall in terms of absolute gross. indieWIRE's attempted to contact New Line for comments, but to no avail.

Fox Searchlight's "Separate Lies" placed second on the chart in its second weekend out. The film played a pair of locations, taking in $19,957, averaging $9,979 ($11,171 last week, an 11% decline on the same number of screens). The film's two-week cume is $54,299.

Miramax Films added 76 runs to John Madden's "Proof" in its second weekend in theaters. The feature took in $835,219 on 84 screens, averaging $9,943. Last week, the film averaged $24,230 from eight runs, a 59% drop. The film's cume is just under $1.1 million.

Rumur Releasing opened doc "Occupation: Dreamland" by Ian Olds and Garrett Scott at one location over the weekend. The film took in $8,019, placing it fourth on the chart in terms of screen average. "We're very excited that the reaction was as strong as it was," Rumur Releasing distribution partner Michael Galinsky told indieWIRE Tuesday. "The reviews were amazing and people responded." Galinsky also added that people grabbed stacks of fliers after exiting the theater in order to encourage others to see the film. He also said that they tried to lure people to theaters through routes other than conventional advertising. "We knew that traditional marketing tools like print ads weren't going to be cost effective for us. So we put a lot more effort into reaching out to individuals that would respond to the film and then let others know. We also did a small amount of radio advertising on Air America." Traditional word-of-mouth also boosted attendance according to Galinsky.

Rumur Releasing, an upstart distributor, will take the film to two- dozen other cities around the country according to Galinsky, who expects the film to catch on further. "Currently, we are booked in about 25 markets, but I expect that to expand significantly over the next couple of weeks. We open in Berkeley, Washington, D.C. and Boston on Friday [and] on October 14th, [the film] expands to Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Houston and Albuquerque."

TLA Releasing opened "Dorian Blues" on a pair of screens over the weekend. The film averaged $6,303 with a $12,605 gross, placing the film fifth on the chart. In other openers, Eros opened "Dil Jo Bhi Kahe" on 33 screens, grossing $91,319 ($2,767 average), while Wellspring opened "Dear Wendy" at seven locations, grossing $8,222 ($1,175 average). Miramax opened "Daltry Calhoun" on 13 screens, taking in $7,758 ($597 average) and First Look released "Dirty Love" at 44 sites, grossing $23,281 ($529 average).

"March of the Penguins" remained the chart's top earner with over $1.7 million in grosses, while its per screen average dipped seven percent to $1,244. Miramax's "An Unfinished Life" again took in the second highest amount of money at just over $1.68 million. The film's $1,893 average is 31% below last week's figure. The two films' combined grosses represented 48% of the entire specialty box office gross of just over $7 million for the weekend. Previously, the two represented 58% of the entire "indie" take.

Overall, 79 films played 4,087 screens, compared to 4,601 sites last week with a $7.8 million gross from 78 titles. The combined iW BOT average from all the films, however, increased 2% from one week prior to $1,728. Factoring out "Penguins" and "Life," the remaining 77 films actually scored better as a whole, averaging $2,026, or 15% above the iW BOT average. Industry-wide, 132 films grossed about $99.9 million on 39,929 screens, averaging approximately $2,502, or 31% higher than the iW BOT.

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