By Indiewire | Indiewire June 3, 2008 at 1:55AM
Specialty film vet Julianne Moore delivered an impressive $22,311 in weekend earnings for her latest independent release, "Savage Grace," director Tom Kalin's sexy period drama for IFC Films. "The Unknown Woman," director Giuseppe Tornatore's Italian thriller for Outsider Pictures and Medusa Motion Pictures, and "The Foot Fist Way," director Jody Hill's comedy about an irreverent Tae Kwon Do instructor for Paramount Vantage, also debuted in the iWBOT top five, which ranks films by per-screen average. Returning to the iWBOT top five was "War Inc.," director Joshua Seftel's political comedy for First Look Studios and Strand Releasing's "The Edge of Heaven," filmmaker Fatih Akin's family drama set in Germany and Turkey. On the reissue segment of the biz, Janus Films earned $8,336 from a new print of Jean-Luc Godard's 1962 drama "Vivre Sa Vie" at New York's Film Forum.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.>
While Sarah Jessica Parker and her "Sex and the City" co-stars provided a feminine alternative hit for Warner Bros. and New Line on the commercial charts, Julianne Moore once again proved herself as the indie "it" girl with IFC Films' "Savage Grace." Director Tom Kalin's erotic drama, featuring Moore as the dysfunctional wife to the wealthy heir of the Baekeland plastics fortune, earned $22,311 in weekend earnings and an impressive $11,156 per-screen average from two New York engagements. With regards to debut weekend, per-screen averages, "Savage Grace" ranked fifth among Moore's eleven specialty releases.
A strong sign of the "Savage Grace's" wide appeal, said Mark Boxer, VP Sales and Distribution, IFC Films, was the diversity of audiences between its IFC Center crowds (mid-twenties to thirties) and 62nd and Broadway crowds (forties to mid-fifties). "We felt good going into this weekend with good counter programming to the blockbusters of the summer," said Boxer, via e-mail. "Tom Kalin has made a challenging film that has received a lot of reaction which certainly helped drive good opening weekend numbers. With Julianne Moore in the lead role of this true story and a continued focus on counter programming, "Savage Grace" will have a fairly aggressive June roll out."
"The Foot Fist Way," director/co-writer Jody Hill's slapstick comedy starring Danny R. McBride as an incompetent Taw Kwon Do instructor, earned $36,391 for Paramount Vantage in its debut frame. "Foot Fist Way" reached a solid $9,097 per-screen average from four runs in New York and Los Angeles.
"The Unknown Woman" Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore's thriller about prostitutes trying to escape their abusive masters, earned $5,701 for Outsider Pictures and Medusa Motion Pictures from its exclusive U.S. debut at New York's Angelika Film Center. "Holding the film in New York is a key challenge and we're hoping the film can find its audience," said Paul Hudson, co-founder Outsider Pictures. "Our audience doesn't rush out in the first weekend to see a film and our campaign has been mostly publicity led with newspaper, public radio and a visit to New York by director Giuseppe Tornatore. We're hoping that word-of-mouth will propel the film." Hudson confirmed a slow platform for "Unknown Woman" with Los Angeles on June 27 and additional cities throughout summer.
Director Joshua Seftel's political comedy "War Inc." continued to draw sizable audiences for First Look Studios in New York and Los Angeles and distinguish itself from poor performing specialty films with Middle East War themes. While "War Inc," featuring John Cusack as a hit man in an Iraq-like country dubbed "Turaqistan," dipped some 60% in per-screen average to $9,985 from two runs; its sophomore week cume reached $74,474.
Returning to the iWBOT top five was "The Edge of Heaven," Turkish-German director Fatih Akin's drama about a pair of parents and their children whose lives intersect across Germany and Turkey. "Edge of Heaven," Akin's third feature for Strand Releasing, earned $29,095 from four runs for the Culver City-based film outfit for a sophomore week per-screen average of $7,274.
Debuting in the iWBOT top ten was "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" director Chrsitopher Bell's first-person documentary about his experiences taking steroids, earned $31,576 from six runs for Magnolia Pictures. "Stuck," director Stuart Gordon's horror film starring Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea, averaged $4,422 from two New York engagements for ThinkFilm. "Trying To Get Good," directors Doug McIntyre and Penny Peyser's documentary about longtime Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, earned $4,950 for February Films and Bialystock & Bloom Productions at Los Angeles' Crest Theatre.
The top holdovers were First Run Features' "A Jihad For Love," Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma's documentary about gay and lesbian Muslims striving to reconcile their faith and their homosexuality; and Miramax Films' "Reprise," Norwegian director Joachim Trier's drama about two friends, both aspiring writers, awaiting publication of their first books. "Jihad" earned $5,450 in its sophomore week at New York's IFC Center, a 60% drop in per-screen average. Playing at 14 locations, "Reprise" earned $50,720 and has reached $253,785 in total box office after three weeks in release; an impressive mark for a Norwegian drama.
Overture Films' "The Visitor," filmmaker Tom McCarthy's drama about a depressed professor who befriends a Syrian street musician and his family, remained the overall specialty earnings leader with $553,704 in weekend earnings from 270 runs. Its total box office after eight weeks has reached $5.3 million. Close behind was the ThinkFilm melodrama "Then She Found Me," featuring Helen Hunt on both sides of the camera, which earned $244,812 from 150 engagements and reached $2.5 million in cumulative box office; and the Fox Searchlight documentary "Young@Heart," about an unusual seniors choir, with $220,190 in weekend box office from 197 locations and $2.8 million in total earnings. In terms of all 2008 specialty releases, all three films remained far behind Miramax Films' "Smart People" and its $9.5 million box office total.
The standout reissue was a restored print of French master Jean-Luc Godard's 1962 classic "Vivre Sa Vie" which earned $8,336 for Janus Films at New York's Film Forum.
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.