By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 14, 2008 at 2:09AM
Two rhythmically titled films from two very different British directors saw promising debuts this weekend. Guy Ritchie's "RockNRolla," from Warner Brothers, grossed $144,701 from 7 screens, while Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" took in $73,867 from 4 screens for Miramax. And while Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married" continued to find many guests in its second weekend, newcomers like Wong Kar-Wai's "Ashes of Time Redux" and Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig's "Nights and Weekends" did not quite fare as well.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT is available at indieWIRE.com.
"RockNRolla", "Happy" Open Well
A week before his wife's directorial debut hits the specialty market, Guy Ritchie's "RockNRolla" began its rollout to nice numbers. Garnering much better reviews than recent Ritchie outings, and featuring a cast including Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton and Tom Wilkinson, "Rolla" grossed $144,701 on 7 screens. Its $20,672 average far exceeded both 2007's "Revolver" ($2,323 on 18 screens) and 2002's "Swept Away" ($1,806 on 196 screens). It's actually already outgrossed the former, which only totaled $84,738 by the end of its run. "Rolla" will expand considerably over Hallowe'en weekend, which will be telling as to whether it can contend with Ritchie's biggest it, "Snatch," which grossed $30,328,156 in 2000.
Perhaps much more impressive were the opening numbers for Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky." Featuring a basically unknown British cast, the Miramax release nearly matched "Rolla"'s average, taking in $73,867 from 4 runs for a $18,467 PTA. Starring Sally Hawkins in a performance many are heralding as among the year's finest, "Lucky"'s average actually outpaced every Leigh film (in terms of U.S. grosses), since "High Hopes" took in $27,964 on one screen in 1989. Leigh's last film, 2004's "Vera Drake," averaged $6,603 on 2 screens, while his biggest hit cumulatively, 1996's "Secrets and Lies," averaged $15,203 on 4. That film eventually grossed $13,417,292 after numerous Academy Award nominations. "Lucky" expands to 25 theaters next weekend.
"Rachel" Shows Strength, "Ashes," "Weekends" Not As Lucky
Both "Rolla" and "Lucky" came close to playing bridesmaid in the specialty PTA race as the second weekend of Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married" found impressive numbers. Expanding 18 screens to 27, "Rachel" grossed $445,628 for a $16,505 average. Released by Sony Pictures Classics, the film will see a slow expansion over the coming weeks, obviously hoping to carry itself into awards season, where the film, specifically its star Anne Hathaway, is heavily favored to garner kudos. After 10 days, "Rachel"'s cume stands at $863,746.
Sony Classics opened Wong Kar-Wai's "Ashes of Time Redux" this weekend on 5 screens. Though obviously a film for a niche audience, its initial $21,372 gross is mildly disappointing. Kar-Wai's recent films, though mind you not revived editions of previous films, found much higher averages. Just this April, Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights" averaged nearly three times "Redux"'s $4,274 with $12,357, while in 2005, "2046" found a massive $28,268 PTA on 4 screens.
Also a big reduction from previous efforts was Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig's "Nights and Weekends." Its $2,902 gross from its sole run at New York's IFC Center was a big drop of Swanberg's 2007 effort "Hannah Takes The Stairs," which grossed $5,901 on 1 screen in its first weekend.
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.