As good a reason as anyone else, credit filmmaker Michael Moore for snapping a four-week skid of slumping Hollywood box office revenues. Weekend estimates show a 2% increase from the same weekend last year with the top twelve movies, including Moore's healthcare documentary "Sicko," earning $146.7 million. After earning $70,000 from an exclusive opening at New York's AMC-Loews Lincoln Square, Moore's fast-paced and furiously funny healthcare documentary earned $4,501,713 in weekend box office from 441 screens for a powerful per-screen average of $10,208.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available here at indieWIRE.com
The rocketing launch for "Sicko," financed by The Weinstein Company, with Lionsgate Films handling US distribution, guarantees celebrity status for Michael Moore, making him one of the few American directors people recognize by name. While only opening to half the theaters of Moore's 2004 hit "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Sicko" rolls out to 200 additional screens in time for Independence Day. Already boasting a cumulative box office of $4.62 million, "Sicko" looks to make Moore an even bigger star.
What Fourth of July means for film companies and theater owners is a six-and-a-half day window of opportunity to generate box office. Granted, Independence Day is not traditionally a strong movie-going day, especially for specialty films but there are plenty of art-house titles entering the Fourth of July with strong box-office momentum. Focus Features' "Evening," like "Sicko," another art-house release leaning towards the mainstream, earned $3,501,971 in weekend box office, enough for a spot in the overall top ten box-office chart.
The champion among exclusive openings was Rialto's "Le Doulos," Jean-Pierre Melville 1962 police thriller in a new 35mm print. Rave reviews helped "Le Doulos" earn $9,362 at New York's Film Forum; where it shows exclusively until July 12. THINKFilm's documentary "Ghosts of Cite Soleil," about rival Haitian gang leaders, earned an unexpected plug in "Esquire Magazine" and an impressive $9,362 from its exclusive run at New York's IFC Center. "Ghosts" expands to Los Angeles on July 13 and Hartford, CT on July 20.
Strand Releasing's "One to Another," ("Chacon Sa Nuit"), directors Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold's drama set in provincial France, about the mysterious death of a teenage musician and the investigation undertaken by his sister, earned $4,515 from its exclusive run at New York's Quad Cinema; an awesome total for a film with limited awareness. Kino International's Korean/American coming-of-age drama "In Between Days" earned $5,065 from its debut run at New York's IFC Center; making the downtown cinema a top-performer for foreign-language titles.
Less successful was "Vitus," Sony Pictures Classics' piano prodigy drama, which only gathered $5,722 from two locations. For Sony Classics, it was a rare stumble; opening a title and failing to crack the box office top ten of specialty releases. The flipside of "Sicko," meaning a documentary performing below expectations was Balcony Releasing's "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox," director Sara Lamm's look at Dr. Emanuel Bronner and his all-purpose soap sold at health food stores. Despite appearances by the subject's son, Ralph Bronner, "Dr. Bronner" only earned $1,570 from its exclusive run at New York's Cinema Village. "Dr. Bronner" expands to Los Angeles and San Francisco on July 13.
Still attracting large crowds was Zeitgeist Films' dazzling documentary "Manufactured Landscapes," filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal's portrayal of photographer Edward Burtynsky on his visits to industrial locations in China. "Manufactured Landscapes" earned $10,697 in weekend box-office for $36,409 in total box office since its June 20 opening. "Manufactured Landscapes" opens July 6 at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles and expands to Seattle on July 13 and San Francisco on July 20. Equally successful was Kino International's "Lady Chatterley," a sexy adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's classic novel, which earned $18,425 from 3 locations for a cumulative box office of $70,894.
Zoe Cassavetes' urban romance "Broken English," featuring a standout performance by Parker Posey, earned $35,147 from just five locations for Magnolia Pictures. Still strong after four weeks was Picturehouse Films' French-language Edith Piaf drama "La Vie En Rose," which earned $617,080 in weekend box office from 142 locations. "La Vie En Rose," featuring Marion Cotillard as Piaf, has a cumulative box office close to $5 million.
Losing momentum in its hometown market of San Francisco, Roadside Attractions' "Colma: The Musical," director Richard Wong's post high school musical, dropped approximately 40% in box office, earning only $5,175 from two Bay Area locations. "Colma" expands to New York's Quad Cinema on Friday. Also struggling, Aki Kaurismaki's "Lights in the Dusk," from Strand Releasing, earned just $137 from its run at New York's IFC Center, slightly less than the $274 earned by the satire "Czech Dream" ("Cesky Sen") also at IFC Center.
Joining the Independence Day rush is the family comedy "Introducing the Dwights" from Warner Independent Pictures, which opens on four locations Wednesday including the Arclight in Los Angeles and the Sunshine Cinema in New York. "Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman," from Artistic License and filmmaker Jennifer Fox, debuts at New York's Film Forum. "Joshua," Fox Searchlight's Sundance purchase, a thriller involving an affluent New York family, opens Friday at the NuWilshire in Los Angeles and Regal Cinemas Union Square in New York.
From Palm Pictures, "The Method," about seven businessmen applying for one job at a mysterious corporation, opens Friday at New York's Cinema Village after a free online preview on June 30. No one expects a specialty film like "The Method" to match the $8.8 million in Monday evening box office for "Transformers," director Michael Bay's latest action movie. Then again, projections for Moore's "Sicko" keep getting higher. Think about it: Giant Transformer robots and wisecracking pirate named Jack Sparrow. Now that's competition worthy of the larger-than-life Michael Moore.
Steve Ramos is a Cincinnati based writer.
indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.