By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 20, 2008 at 7:49AM
Caroline Suh's "Frontrunners" led all limited release newcomers this weekend, grossing $6,888 from its sole run. The Oscilloscope Pictures release topped its nearest freshman competitors, Barry Levinson's "What Just Happened?," which averaged $5,347 from 36 runs, and Madonna's "Filth and Wisdom," which took in $4,597 from its showing at New York's IFC Center. "Fifth"'s average fell short of Madge's soon-to-be-ex-husband Guy Richtie's film. His "RockNRolla" averaged $6,076 from 22 runs in its second weekend. None of those films could beat iW BOT leader "Happy-Go-Lucky," though. In its sophomore frame, Mike Leigh's latest grossed $107,947 from only 9 screens, for an average of nearly $12,000 per screen.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT is available at indieWIRE.com.
"Frontrunners" Top Freshman
The third film to be theatrically released through Oscilloscope Pictures, "Frontrunners" follows the race for the office of Student Union President at Stuyvesant High School, New York City's most competitive public school. So far, "FLOW: For Love of Water" is Oscilloscope's top grosser with $110,065. Since opening last Wednesday, "Frontrunners" has grossed $10,011 from its run at New York's Film Forum, and its weekend gross of $6,888 topped a slew of high-profile openers with modest numbers.
"It seems the timeliness of a campaign film that's crowd-pleasing, funny and smart is refreshing to NYC audiences and the press," said Oscilloscope's David Fenkel in an interview with indieWIRE. "This inherent interest and the local grassroots campaign we executed with [the filmmakers] and Stuyvesant High School really paid off for a strong opening weekend. We are really pleased with the consistent turnout for the first 5 days and expect more school groups to attend more weekday shows and for additional sold out shows this upcoming weekend."
This Friday the film expands to Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Philadelphia and Boston.
Battle of the Exes
Among the films "Frontrunners" beat out, based on per screen average, was Magnolia Pictures' release of Barry Levinson's Hollywood satire "What Just Happened?" After a bumpy road to release that saw scathing critical reception at Sundance, the film managed to find relatively decent reviews in its final incarnation, and, at least initially, modest box office numbers. "Happened?," starring Robert deNiro and Sean Penn, opened on 36 screens and grossed $192,508 for a $5,347 average.
That was enough to top the much more limited debut of Sean Penn's ex-wife Madonna and her directorial debut "Filth and Wisdom." The IFC Films release's sole New York run took in just $4,597. It was above and beyond the PTA of Madonna's last effort as an actress, "Swept Away," which averaged $1,806 six years ago. But it wasn't enough to top the second weekend PSA for "Swept Away" director (and Madonna's freshly announced ex) Guy Ritchie's latest.
Ritchie's "RockNRolla," which topped the iW BOT last weekend, fell significantly in its second weekend. Even though the film expanded from 7 to 22 screens, its overall gross actually dropped just under 10% to $133,679. However, its $6,076 was still enough to beat the PSA for "Filth."
Holdovers Top Chart
Last week's runner-up on the iW BOT, Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," moved up a spot this weekend. Expanding from 4 to 9 screens, the Miramax release scored $107,947. Its $11,994 average, despite a increasingly crowded marketplace, bodes well as the film heads into an awards season it could quite likely benefit from.
Another awards contender took "Lucky"'s bridesmaid position on the chart. In its third weekend, Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married" continued to find very impressive numbers, grossing $657,646 from 69 runs. Its $9,531 average was just a slight drop despite adding 41 theaters. The Sony Pictures Classics' release has now totaled nearly $1.7 million.
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.