The higher they come; the harder they fall. News of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," the Hollywood franchise of the moment, dropping a hefty 62% from its opening roll out with second weekend receipts at $43.2 million, speaks powerfully to the current Hollywood release model: terrific openings followed by dramatic plunges. The art house model, despite increasing competition among specialty companies, is closer to a marathon, a long road and perhaps, a commitment to word-of-mouth advertising.
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 weekend, per-location champ is "Golden Door" ("Nuovomondo"), Miramax's foreign-language period drama about early 20th-century immigrants coming to America. "Golden Door" earned $30,508 in its second week at three locations, including the newly opened Landmark Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles, giving it an impressive average of $10,169 per location and bringing its cumulative box office to $76,421.
Miramax expands "Golden Door" Friday with four additional venues in suburban New York and an additional eight markets on June 15, including top-performing venues like Philadelphia's Ritz 5 and San Francisco's Embarcadero Center.
"There is more pressure than ever on the exhibition side to perform," says Jason Cassidy, Miramax's Executive Vice President of Marketing. "There are more distributors and more pictures but there is definitely room to build a movie like "Golden Door." This is a movie that needs to be nourished in order for audiences to discover it. "Golden Door" would get lost as a wider release."
Miramax adds to the world cinema offerings with its June 15 release of "Eagle vs. Shark," a quirky, New Zealand comedy about a video game fanatic and a shy, fast-food restaurant clerk who find happiness together. Encouraged by enthusiastic Sundance Film Festival audiences and overwhelming response to its online promotions for the film, Miramax will open "Eagle vs. Shark" on three screens including the Sunshine in New York and the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles with a fast-paced roll out planned for the next four weeks.
Falling behind "Golden Door" in the per-location, foreign-language race is Fox Searchlight's Russian fantasy thriller "Day Watch" ("Dnevnoi Dozor"), director Timur Bekmambetov's sequel to his 2004 film "Night Watch," which averaged $9,356 per its five venues for an opening weekend total of $46,730. On Friday, "Day Watch" expands to eight more cities including Boston and Dallas.
Sony Pictures Classics expanded its Japanimation feature "Paprika" to eight more venues and earned $56,965 or $7,121 per location for a cumulative total of $116,593 after just two weeks.
For Cassidy, besting two youthful films like "Day Watch" and "Paprika" with a classic period drama like "Golden Door" is proof of the additional obstacles distributors face when trying to attract young audiences to foreign-language fare. A movie like Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth," reaching $37,614,761 in its twenty-third, astounding week in release, is the exception. The norm is closer to Tartan Films' Asian gangster epic "Triad Election," which earned just $792 from a single venue over the weekend.
"I do think getting younger audiences to watch subtitled films is a challenge," Cassidy says. "You're competing with pop culture advertising for films like "Knocked Up" and "Ocean's Thirteen."
Failing to pack its three New York screens was Magolia Pictures' "Crazy Love," director Dan Klores' good-time documentary about the fifty-year love affair between lying husband Burt Pugach and his beautiful girlfriend Linda Riss. Despite its added awareness as an infamous hometown New York story, "Crazy Love" earned just $17,952 for a per-screen average of $5,984. Magnolia Pictures expands "Crazy Love" Friday to additional cities like Boston and Los Angeles.
Fox Searchlight's "Waitress," the late filmmaker/actress Adrienne Shelly's audience-winning drama about an unhappy waitress (Keri Russell) looking for a better life, remained in the overall top ten with a weekend total box office of $2,012,857 and cumulative of $9.44 million after five weeks.
"Waitress" far outperformed Picturehouse's girl soccer drama "Gracie," which opened to $1.4 million at 1,164 venues, playing more conventional cinemas than traditional art houses.
The truest independent at the top of the box office charts is "Chalk," a documentary-like comedy about schoolteachers from Someday Soon Productions. "Chalk" expanded to five locations and earned a weekend total of $21,269 for a per-location average of $4,254.
Sony Pictures Classics expanded Luc Besson's "Angel-A" from seven to 12 theaters and earned $21,351 or $1,779 per theater bringing its two-week total to $69,622.
The most successful roll out continues to be Fox Searchlight's Irish romance "Once," which played three times as many locations, 60, and took in $450,650 or $7,511 per venue. Its cumulative box office is just over $1 million and Fox Searchlight continues its steady roll out of "Once," adding markets like Indianapolis Friday.
New offerings for Friday include Picturehouse Films' French-language, Edith Piaf drama "La Vie En Rose," which opens on three New York venues, including the Paris, as well as two locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco and a single venue in Toronto.
Janus Films tests the waters for classic reissues with its June 15 opening of a new print of Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot le fou." The 1965 classic, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, plays exclusively at Brooklyn's BAMcinematek before a slow roll out to other cities throughout the summer.
On a more high-tech note, the Landmark Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles will make good use of its state-of-the-art Sony 4K SXRD digital cinema projection equipment to screen a restored 4K digital version of the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
Entering only its second week of operation, these premiere screenings of "Dr. Strangelove" can only boost the new 12-screen art-plex's reputation as a flagship venue equal to longstanding Manhattan art cinema venues like Lincoln Plaza.
What remains to be seen is whether enough young Angelenos will choose "Dr. Strangelove" over a competing film like the horror thriller "Hostel: Part II" to pack the theater. At least "Dr. Strangelove" is not subtitled.
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.