By Indiewire | Indiewire May 20, 2008 at 2:05AM
With the Cannes Film Festival underway and generating plenty of specialty film deals, "Reprise," Norwegian director Joachim Trier's young artists drama, cruised past all specialty releases with debut earnings of $49,059 from three debut runs in New York and Los Angeles. "Sangre de Mi Sangre," filmmaker Christopher Zalla's Spanish- language drama about a young Mexican seeking a better life in New York City, also debuted in the iWBOT top five, which ranks films by per-screen average, with $8,385 in weekend box office at New York's IFC Center. Returning to the iWBOT Top Five were Magnolia Pictures' "Surfwise," director Doug Pray's documentary about eccentric surfer Doc Paskowitz and his family; Roadside Attractions' "The Fall," Indian filmmaker Tarsem's lush adventure tale set in silent-era Hollywood, and "Roman de Gare," French master filmmaker Claude Lelouch's thriller for Samuel Goldwyn Films.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.>
"Reprise" Norwegian director Joachim Trier's drama about two friends, both aspiring writers awaiting publication of their first books, earned $49,059 for Miramax Films and a stellar $16,353 per-screen average from three runs in New York and Los Angeles. "Reprise," Norway's Best Foreign Language Film entry for the 2006 Academy Awards, bested the per-screen debuts of recent Norwegian productions "Insomnia" and "Factotum." "We are pleased at the numbers that we opened with and want to continue to build an audience as we slowly roll it out," said Elliot Slutzky, Sr. VP and General Sales Manager, Miramax Films. Slutzky confirmed a deliberately paced platform plan for "Reprise" including expansions in New York and Los Angeles Friday as well as exclusive openings in Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago and Washington DC.
Filmmaker Christopher Zalla won over New York audiences with his directorial debut, the Spanish-language drama "Sangre de Mi Sangre," winner of the grand jury prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival under its original title "Padre Nuestro." About a 17-year-old Mexican teen in search of his father in New York City, "Sangre" earned $8,385 in debut weekend earnings at New York's IFC Center and looked to join Fox Searchlight's "Under the Same Moon" as spring's second Spanish- language, specialty hit. "The film got off to a good start at the IFC Center this past weekend," said Mark Boxer, VP Sales and Distribution, IFC Films. "We are plat-forming the film and have certainly looked at the strong performances of "Under the Same Moon" in markets as we roll out and expand in New York in the next two weeks."
"Surfwise," director Doug Pray's documentary about hippie surfer Doc Paskowitz and his family of nine kids, all surfers; earned $6,342 for Magnolia Pictures from its sophomore weekend at New York's IFC Center. Despite a 35% decline in per-screen average from its previous weekend, "Surfwise" remained the top-performing holdover on the iWBOT. Neal Block, director of distribution, Magnolia Pictures, confirmed an expansion of "Surfwise" to Los Angeles and Newport Beach on May 23.
"The Fall" Indian director Tarsem's visionary fantasy adventure set in Hollywood's early years, earned $65,133 for Roadside Attractions in its second-week frame. The sophomore film from Tarsem, featuring Lee Pace as a movie stuntman, reached a $5,921 per-screen average from eleven runs and $181,864 in total box office.
Returning to the iWBOT top five was Samuel Goldywn's "Roman de Gare," the latest film from French master Claude Lelouch. Featuring Fanny Ardant, Audrey Dana and Dominique Pinon as three strangers whose lives intersect with unexpected results, "Roman de Gare" earned $107,805 from 24 runs for a $4,492 per-screen average and a cume of $467,327.
Debuting in the iWBOT top ten was "My Father My Lord," director David Volach's drama about an Orthodox Rabbi (Israeli actor and director Assi Dayan) struggling to connect with his timid son, earned $24,096 for Kino International from six debut runs in New York and the Tri- State area. "Yella," German director Christian Petzold's surreal drama about an ambitious businesswoman (Nina Hoss) doing whatever it takes to succeed in the corporate world, earned $7,767 from two New York runs for the Cinema Guild. "We always knew that Yella would be a tough sell in today's marketplace," said Ryan Krivoshey, director of distribution for Cinema Guild. "But it's a film that we like and a film that we felt others would like, so we're delighted that it's being exposed to appreciative audiences in this country. There are myriad challenges facing this kind of film but with proper handling it's still possible to make these types of small releases work."
News out of Cannes of Overture Films partnering with Paramount Vantage on the next Michael Moore documentary, an as-of-yet titled follow-up to "Fahrenheit 9/11," ushered in more good news for Overture, the new film division of Starz LLC. "The Visitor" filmmaker Tom McCarthy's drama featuring veteran character actor Richard Jenkins as a lonely professor whose life changes after befriending a Syrian street musician and his family, broke into the top ten box office charts in its sixth week of release with a $3,002 per-screen average from 224 engagements. With total cume of $3,388,821, "Visitor" has out-performed more celebrity-driven, specialty fare like Weinstein Company's "My Blueberry Nights" and ThinkFilm's "Then She Found Me" featuring Helen Hunt. ""The Visitor" continues to exceed our expectations," said Kyle Davies, executive vice president, distribution, Overture Films. "To break the top ten with only the slightest decrease from the week prior confirms that word-of-mouth continues to support this film in the marketplace. We actually had 59 locations where the gross either stayed the same or went up from the previous weekend. That really indicates that the film will have legs in the weeks ahead. With this continuing trend, we will be the specialty choice through the summer months."
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.