By Indiewire | Indiewire December 18, 2007 at 4:1AM
The bump from three Golden Globe nominations meant $1,427,454 from forty runs for Fox Searchlight's teen pregnancy comedy "Juno," far and away the leader on the iWBOT. Miramax Films' French-language drama "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," an adaptation of fashion magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir, continued to draw large crowds. Boasting three Golden Globe nominations, "Diving Bell" held a per-screen average of $18,855 from three runs. World War II love story "Atonement," the Golden Globes leader with seven nominations, collected $1,806,862 in its second frame for Focus Features. Rounding out the iWBOT Top Five, which ranks films by per- screen average, were "The Savages" and new release "The Kite Runner," a DreamWorks production from Paramount Classics. Lagging far behind was Sony Pictures Classics' "Youth Without Youth," Francis Ford Coppola's first film in ten years.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.
Fox Searchlight Pictures grabbed the top spot on the iWBOT two weeks running thanks to director Jason Reitman's teenage pregnancy comedy "Juno." Expanding to 40 runs in its second frame, "Juno" reached a bulging per-screen mark of $35,686, a healthy 30% dip from its debut average. With aggressive expansion plans for 17 new markets Friday; 100 markets on Christmas Day and 1500 theaters by Jan. 4, Sheila Deloach, Senior Vice President Fox Searchlight Pictures, compared "Juno" to the specialty company's best-known comedy hit, "Little Miss Sunshine," which earned $1,480,000 in its second frame from 58 theaters in summer 2006.
"To say that we are ecstatic is an understatement," Deloach said. "We are so thrilled with 'Juno.'" It's the feel good movie for everybody for the holidays. People love the movie. They come out of theaters and say, we have to go back and see it again because we missed some of the lines we were laughing so hard."
In its third frame, Miramax Films' French-language drama "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" held rock steady at three venues. Golden Globe nominee Julian Schnabel's film based on magazine editor Jean- Dominique Bauby's life after a massive stroke, earned $56,565 for a per-screen average of $18,855, nearly identical to its previous week.
"Atonement," director Joe Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's World Way II love story, featuring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, was the Golden Globes leader with seven nominations and the added attention resulted in $1,806,862 from 117 runs for Focus Features. "If you look at release strategy, we were hoping and praying that the Golden Globes would happen so we could take advantage of advance marketing and amazing word of mouth," said Jack Foley, President Theatrical Distribution for Focus Features. "The Golden Globes cannot be underestimated for what a valuable impact they bring to you on in a publicity basis and on a marketing basis. They become much more valuable each year. We saw it with "Brokeback Mountain" and we've seen it over the years." While the film's second-frame performance is just behind the mark set by another limited specialty release, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" in 2000, Foley remained committed to a moderate expansion of 180 runs Friday, reaching deeper into suburban multiplexes. "We always wanted this film to intersect into the commercial world because frankly that world should see this movie. But I'm not saying we've got "Indiana Jones" on our hand. This is still a sophisticated movie that needs special handling but it opens up our desire and our belief that this movie can break out more broadly and that will happen in January."
"The Savages," writer/director Tamara Jenkins' comic drama about estranged sibs caring for their feeble father, remained in the iWBOT top five with $96,938 from ten runs for Fox Searchlight. "Savages" has reached a third-frame cume of $531,737. Expansion plans include 15 new markets Friday and an additional 21 markets Dec. 25.
The top new release on the iWBOT was "The Kite Runner," a Paramount Classics release of a DreamWorks production, based on Khaled Hosseini's hugely popular novel about two Afghan boys and one's decision twenty years later to return to Kabul to help his lifelong friend. "Kite Runner," directed by Marc Forster, earned $471,713 from 35 runs in the top ten markets for a strong $13,477 per-screen mark. More importantly, said Rob Schultz, Executive VP, Distribution for Paramount Vantage, despite its Middle East setting, weekend audiences did not connect the film with recent Iraq dramas, all of which have performed poorly. "I've spent a lot of time screening this film and what we see is a response based on entertainment, based on emotion and sentimental qualities," Schulz said. "That's really what the take way is. That's what they go into the theaters expecting because of the book and they find that the film really delivers that." Paramount Classics expands the film Friday to 350 locations in the top 60 markets.
Other new releases included "Arrangement," directors Diane Crespo and Stefan Schaefer's drama about the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and her Muslim colleague at a Brooklyn school. "Arranged" earned $5,560 at New York's Quad Cinema for Film Movement, helped by weekend appearances by the co-directors. "A Walk into the Sea," director Esther Robinson's documentary about her late uncle, Danny Williams, and his time as Andy Warhol's partner earned $2523 for Art House Films at New York's Cinema Village. People generally like the film and they like seeing a personal film from a film master," said Michael Barker.
"Nanking," co-directors Bill Guttenberg and Dan Sturman's documentary about the Japanese army's horrific invasion of the Chinese city Nanking in 1937, earned $6,316 from its debut weekend at New York's Film Forum for ThinkFilm. "The Singing Revolution," co-directors James Tusty and Maureen Caste Tusty's documentary about Estonia's struggle to end Soviet occupation via popular song festivals, earned $6,155 from a solo run for Abramorama.
Both "Nanking" and "Singing Revolution" outperformed Sony Pictures Classics' "Youth Without Youth," Francis Ford Coppola's artful adaptation of philosopher Mircea Eliade's story and his first film in ten years. "Youth" managed a mild $4,758 per-screen average for a $28,550 debut weekend total from six runs. "You don't judge a film from its first two weeks in release," said Michael Barker, Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics. "People generally like the film and they like seeing a personal film from a film master." Unknown to Barker, especially in this highly competitive holiday marketplace for specialty films, and with hits like "Juno" and "Atonement" gathering large crowds and theater bookings, is whether "Youth" will have the chance to grow and win over new advocates.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.