"Huckabees" Goes for Three, while "Vera Drake" and "Being Julia" Join the BOT with Strong Debuts
by Brian Brooks
"I ♥ Huckabees" continued its affair with the box office apex, taking the first position on the iW: BOT as ranked on a per screen average, despite another expansion over the weekend. Fine Line debuted "Vera Drake" for its first full weekend in theaters, taking the second position, while Sony Classics' "Being Julia" took the third rank with a slightly smaller per site tally on more screens. Self-distributed "Guiana 1838" added an engagement and maintained a respectable per screen, while "Tarnation" added playdates rounding out the iW: BOT top five. Specialty distributors also opened a half-dozen titles over the weekend, but with some modest returns.
Fox Searchlight's "I ♥ Huckabees" remained entrenched at the top of the iW BOT for a third weekend straight. The distributor added 21 screens, taking in $914,880 for a stellar $14,075 per screen average on 65 screens. "Huckabees" was also the third largest overall grosser in the chart. In three weeks, the film has cumed $2.6 million.
Fine Line's "Vera Drake" played its first full weekend in release, taking in $40,870 on three screens ($13,623 average). Sony Pictures Classics' "Being Julia" placed third on the chart, right on the heels of "Vera" with a $13,579 per screen average on nine screens, taking in a $122,214 weekend total.
"We're really pleased with the [debut], it opened very strongly," Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker told indieWIRE yesterday. "We were heartened by the film's great reviews, especially for Annette Bening. We think she has a shot at an Oscar nomination."
Barker also indicated that he feels audience tastes are currently shifting. "Right now, it's obvious to us that entertaining films that do not involve a life and death situation, and that are made with quality, are doing very well at the moment, and 'Being Julia' qualifies as one of those films." Barker also mentioned "The Motorcycle Diaries" and the upcoming "Sideways" as films he considered to be in line with the current overall audience taste.
Sony Pictures Classics, which pre-bought the film for all English speaking territories, will open the film slowly over the next month. By November 19, Barker said that he believed the film will be at its widest release.
"Guiana 1838" added one more screen in its fourth weekend in release, taking in $21,366, and a fourth placement on the chart. The film averaged $10,683 and has cumed $144,856.
Wellspring added five screens and more cities for its doc "Tarnation," grossing $53,983 for an $8,997 per screen average ($12,740 last week, a 29% drop). In two weeks, "Tarnation" has cumed $82,588.
Six films joined the iW: BOT over the weekend. Newmarket's "p.s." debuted in three venues, grossing $18,710 for a $6,237 per screen average, while New Yorker Films' "Moolaade" took in $11,982 ($5,991 average). Indican Pictures opened "Face" on three screens for a $12,366 weekend and a $4,122 per screen average. Lions Gate debuted two films during the weekend, with "Final Cut" on 117 screens ($1,934 average) and "Eulogy" with 22 engagements, taking in $41,788 ($1,899 average). Kino International's "Untold Scandal" also joined the list with a $6,015 gross on four screens ($1,504 average).
"Huckabees," "The Motorcycle Diaries," and "Shaun of the Dead" represented 46% of the overall $8.13 million specialty box office gross for the weekend, with a combined total of voer $3.781 million. The overall specialty per screen average came in at $1,975, a decline of nearly 4% from last week's $2,038. Four titles additional titles joined the chart, with 4,121 sites showing 88 "indie" titles, a decline of 317 screens.
Industry-wide, 147 films played 33,892 screens, 502 fewer then one week prior, with a $97.61 million gross, a nearly 10% decline from last week. One year ago, the specialty box office reported 58 films with a $3.45 million gross on 1,913 screens. "Sylvia" ranked number one for the weekend ending October 19, 2003 with a $19,647 per screen average from three sites.
This weekend, Paramount Classics opens "The Machinist" next weekend, while IFC Films' "Sex is Comedy" is also among the specialty openers. Also opening in limited release is Fox Searchlight's "Sideways," and Strand's "Stella Street."