The combination of four National Society of Film Critics prizes, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, and the leading per-screen average of $25,905 created a gusher of good news for "There Will Be Blood," filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson's turn-of-the-century oil drama for Paramount Vantage. Close behind on the iWBOT, which ranks films by per-screen average, was "Persepolis," Sony Pictures Classics' feature animation based on Marjane Satarapi's graphic novels about growing up in pre-revolutionary Tehran. "Persepolis" hit a per-screen average of $10,981 from seven runs. "Juno," Fox Searchlight's teen pregnancy comedy, reached the number two spot on the overall box office charts with weekend earnings of $15,860,744 from 1,925 screens. Rounding out the inaugural 2008 iWBOT Top Five were Focus Features' World War II love story "Atonement" and "Chuck Close," director Marion Cajori's documentary about the acclaimed contemporary painter.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.
Expanding to 51 runs in its second frame, "There Will Be Blood," a Paramount Vantage release and Paramount Vantage/Miramax co- production, hit a sky-high, per-screen average of $25,904 for a weekend total of $1,321,144. It was the second straight week that "Blood" ranked the highest per-screen average of all releases. With expansion plans for 125 runs in the top twenty-five markets Friday, Rob Schulze, Executive V.P., Distribution at Paramount Vantage, remained confident that the film's great reviews and the National Society of Film Critics wins will continue to build a wider audience. "My impression on what is motivating people is a combination of great reviews, visually stunning filmmaking, our marketing campaign, followers of PT (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Daniel Day-Lewis and the film's topic," Schulze said. "It feels like a classic American story. While historic in setting, the discussion of oil, power, politics and religion is at the core of all key world issues and this film charts the birth of an industry and the impact of one extraordinary individual. At the same time, PT transcends convention with an incredible sound design etc..." "Blood" reached cumulative box office of $1,829,285; already surpassing the domestic total of Day-Lewis' last film, "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" but still far behind Day-Lewis/Martin Scorsese collaborations "Gangs of New York" ($77,812,000) and "The Age of Innocence" ($32,255,440).
In its second frame, Sony Pictures Classics'animated drama "Persepolis" held powerfully at seven venues. The Golden Globe nominated film, based on Marjane Satrapi's four graphic novels about growing up in pre-revolutionary Tehran, earned $76,867 for a per- screen average of $10,981.
The top documentary on the iWBOT was "Chuck Close," an Art Kaleidoscope Foundation release, director Marion Cajori's examination of the artist credited for reinventing portraiture. "Chuck Close," playing exclusively at New York's Film Forum earned $9,046 for a cume of $24,195.
"Atonement," director Joe Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's World Way II love story and Golden Globes leader with seven nominations, entered the overall box office top ten for the first time with earnings of $5,064,577 from 583 runs for Focus Features.
Fox Searchlight Pictures reached the number two spot on the overall box office chart thanks to director Jason Reitman's teenage pregnancy comedy "Juno." Expanding to 1925 runs, a record release for Fox Searchlight, "Juno" reached a robust per-screen mark of $8,238 and a cume of $52 million. "It is entirely fair to say that "Juno" has exceeded our expectations," said Sheila Deloach, Senior Vice President Fox Searchlight Pictures. "The sky is the limit and we are keeping our fingers crossed for Oscar nominations. What's exciting is we expect to surpass "Little Miss Sunshine" in box office by Friday."
Just outside the iWBOT Top Five was "The Orphanage," director Juan Antonio Bayona's Spanish-language ghost tale for Picturehouse. "Orphanage" earned $500,671 from 69 runs for a per-screen average of $7,256, mild compared to the platform debut of Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth."
While "Atonement," "Juno" and "Blood" followed aggressive expansion plans, "Honeydripper," director John Sayles' drama about the owner of a Blues club in 1950s Alabama who turns to a young musician to bring in the crowds, earned $7,376 for Emerging Pictures from 4 runs; a traditional art-house platform release. Emerging Pictures plans to expand "Honeydripper" to Atlanta, Boston and Chicago on Jan. 18.
Standing alongside "Honeydripper;" worlds apart from "Juno," was the documentary "Yiddish Theater: A Love Story," director Dan Katzir's documentary about actress Zypora Spaisman and her struggle to keep operating her Yiddish theater in New York. "Yiddish Theater" earned $2,033 from three runs in Los Angeles. Released with little financial backing and no marketing budget, the success of "Yiddish Theater," while small in box office, is just as significant as "Juno's" record- setting grosses.
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.