By Indiewire | Indiewire January 15, 2008 at 2:55AM
"There Will Be Blood," filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson's turn-of-the- century oil drama for Paramount Vantage, struck a weekend mother lode with a Best Actor Golden Globe in the drama category and the leading per-screen average of $14,421. "The Business of Being Born," director Abby Epstein's look at American hospitals' maternity policies and the story of her own pregnancy, hit a per-screen average of $9,574 at New York's IFC Center for International Film Circuit. Rounding out the iWBOT Top Five, which ranks films by per-screen average, were Sony Pictures Classics' feature animation "Persepolis," the ThinkFilm documentary "Nanking" and the teen pregnancy comedy "Juno," primed to become the top film in Fox Searchlight's history.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.
Expanding to 129 runs in its third frame, "There Will Be Blood," a Paramount Vantage release and Paramount Vantage/Miramax co- production, held a per-screen average of $14,421 for a weekend total of $1,860,333. It was the third straight week that "Blood" ranked the highest per-screen average of all releases. With expansion plans for 400 runs in the top seventy-five markets Friday, Rob Schulze, Executive V.P., Distribution at Paramount Vantage, remained confident that the film's great reviews and its Golden Globes recognition will offset the diminished viewing audience of the strike-hampered awards broadcast. "The change in the Globes program definitely impacts our ability to generate awareness," Schulze said. "As one of the newest films in the marketplace, "Blood" is still building. But we were always planning on aggressive support levels at this point in the release. I regret we don't have the extra bump that they would have provided but I don't think we are in as much of a bind as films that are trying to re-launch."
"Atonement," director Joe Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's World Way II love story won the Best Drama Golden Globe and remained in the overall box office top ten for the second time with earnings of $4,221,866 from 950 runs for Focus Features. While the Golden Globes failed to generate its usual hoopla, Jack Foley, President, Theatrical Distribution, Focus Features, stood ready to publicize the film's two Globe wins.
"Focus will not hesitate to act aggressively to expand "Atonement" as broadly and commercially as possible, especially now after the Best Picture win," said Foley. "The Golden Globes telecast began "Atonement's" Best Picture news. People are better informed about entertainment industry events in this country than they are about most topics. The country will certainly be well informed about "Atonement's" Golden Globe Best Picture win."
Fox Searchlight Pictures reached the number three spot on the overall box office chart thanks to director Jason Reitman's teenage pregnancy comedy 'Juno." Expanding to 2,448 runs, a record release for Fox Searchlight, "Juno" reached a robust per-screen mark of $5,560 and a cume of $70,862,478. "We surpassed "Little Miss Sunshine" and we will surpass "Sideways" as the top film in Fox Searchlight history," said Sheila Deloach, Senior Vice President Fox Searchlight Pictures. "We didn't win anything at the Golden Globes but we are winning at the box office."
The top documentary on the iWBOT was the Red Envelope Entertainment/ International Film Circuit release "The Business of Being Born," director Abby Epstein's look at American hospitals' maternity policies and the story of her own pregnancy. "Born" earned $9,574 in weekend box office at New York's IFC Center for and $15,559 in cume since its Jan. 9 opening. While "Born" may not be an overtly political documentary like "No End In Sight," Wendy Lidell, Founder and President of International Film Circuit, pointed to its "personal politics" as a reason for the film's successful debut. "As we said in the '70s, the personal is political, and the politics in "The Business of Being Born" are very personal and therefore especially passionate." Lidell said. "People are responding very enthusiastically. It's a political film in the same spirit that 'Super Size Me' was a political film." Appearances by Epstein and executive producer Ricki Lake and a marketing campaign targeted towards birthing groups and parenting bloggers helped expand the audience beyond regular documentary fans. The efforts have paid off in an expanded run to Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Sony Pictures Classics' animated drama "Persepolis" expanded to 18 screens and held steady with a per-screen average at $10,374. Based on Marjane Satrapi's four graphic novels about growing up in pre- revolutionary Tehran and co-directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, "Persepolis" earned an estimated $186,734 for a per-screen average of $10,374. After four weeks, "Persepolis" has reached a cume of $548,229 and has surpassed the domestic earnings of past specialty, animated releases "Akira" and "Steamboy." Sony Classics' previous animated feature, "Paprika" remained a future benchmark with earnings of $882,267.
Returning to theaters in three markets including Seattle, Omaha and Salt Lake City, "Billy The Kid," filmmaker Jennifer Venditti's look at the everyday routines of Maine high school student Billy Baker, averaged $1,793 from three runs. Omaha edged out Seattle as the top market thanks to appearances by Venditti and "Billy" has reached $33,072 in cumulative box office. Elephant Eye Films plans to expand the film to Boston, Tucson and Los Angeles in the next month.
Back in theaters after its December Oscar-qualifying run, "Nanking," co-directors Bill Guttenberg and Dan Sturman's documentary about the Japanese army's horrific invasion of the Chinese city Nanking in 1937, reached a $6,444 per-screen average from three runs and a cumulative box office total of $45,543 for ThinkFilm.
Two foreign-language films debuted with little concern for the strike- hindered Golden Globes broadcast. Their challenge was to generate awareness for international filmmakers in the crowded post-holiday field. "Woman On The Beach," South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-Soo's latest romantic comedy for New Yorker Films, failed to break into the iWBOT Top Five with weekend earnings of $4,248 at New York's Film Forum. "Times and Winds," director Reha Erdem's Tirkish-language, coming-of- age tale earned just $1338 for Kino International at New York's Anthology Film Archives.
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.