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July 31, 2007 7:32 AM
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iW BOT | Riot in the Cinema! "This Is England" Wows NY; "No End In Sight" Cashes In on Anti-Iraq War

A scene from Shane Meadows' "This is England." Image courtesy of IFC First Take.

With weekend earnings, director Shane Meadows' coming-of-age drama "This Is England" is the top exclusive release on the iW BOT, as well as the new per-screen benchmark for all IFC First Take releases. Magnolia Pictures' Iraq War documentary "No End in Sight" packed audiences in its debut weekend at New York's Film Forum and Washington DC's E Street Cinema, reaching the number two spot on the iW BOT, which ranks films by per-screen average. Both titles outperformed Paramount Vantage's heavily promoted, G-rated nature film, "Arctic Tale," which failed to melt audience hearts in its initial roll out.

The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available here at indieWIRE.com

Despite its availability to cable TV subscribers via Video On Demand, IFC First Take's "This Is England" earned $18,430 from its debut weekend at New York's IFC Center. Across-the-board, rave reviews helped qualify "This Is England," a semi-biographical tale of a young boy who befriends an older skinhead in 1980s England, as director Shane Meadows' most acclaimed feature. Its earnings also granted "England" the ranking of iW BOT champ. It became the new, per-screen record-setter of all IFC First Take debuts, besting the $15,338 average from their summer 2006 release "Gabrielle."

Set to expand Friday to the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles and other top ten markets throughout August, Mark Boxer, VP Sales and Distribution at IFC Films, agreed that the enthusiastic response from New York audiences could very well turn "This Is England" into a larger release than originally planned. "There won't be a radical change in strategy after the strong NYC opening, but we will be adding new markets outside the top ten which will open in the next few weeks," Boxer said. "We have received a good deal of interest from exhibition after the strong weekend gross and the rave reviews."

Magnolia Pictures discovered enthusiastic audiences for its Sundance purchase, director Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight," an attempt to explain how America currently finds itself occupying a chaotic Iraq. "No End in Sight" debuted at two locations, the Film Forum in Los Angeles and Washington DC's E Street Cinema, to $31,533 in box office; more than enough for the number two spot on the iW BOT with a per-screen average of $15,767. Magnolia Pictures expands "No End in Sight" Friday to Los Angeles.

"Live-In Maid," Argentine filmmaker Jorge Gaggero's highly praised class drama about a Buenos Aires divorcee struggling to retain her luxurious lifestyle, earned $13,168 from its exclusive run at New York's Film Forum, a slight 14% drop from its opening weekend. With cumulative earnings of $42,643, "Live-in Maid" has become the summer's top grossing Spanish-language release in just its second week, out-earning new Spanish titles "Drama/Mex," "The Method" and "El Immigrante" combined. By retaining the majority of its week two audiences, enough for the number three spot on the iW BOT, "Live-In Maid" boosts its chances for a successful nationwide rollout. "Live-In Maid," the first theatrical release from the five-year-old sales outfit, Film Sales Company, shifts to New York's Quad Cinema Friday and opens in Seattle on August 10.

Equally successful was International Film Circuit's Darfur documentary "The Devil Came On Horseback," which debuted exclusively at New York's IFC Center with $11,143 in weekend earnings. Placing twelfth on the iW BOT was "The Camden 28," about Vietnam War protesters, from First Run Features, which grossed $3,301 at New York's Cinema Village.

With its persuasive advocacy for fighting global warming and stunning wilderness photography, Paramount Vantage clearly modeled its family friendly nature film "Arctic Tale" after Warner Independent's 2005 smash documentary "March of the Penguins." With debut weekend earnings of $22,607 from four conventional multiplex locations, for a lackluster per-screen average of $5,652, "Arctic Tale" underperformed "March of the Penguins" by a little over 80%. Families who might have checked out "Arctic Tale" were likely drawn to "The Simpsons," which reaped $71.9 million. Looking to regain its footing, "Arctic Tale" expands Friday to additional markets including Chicago, Boston and Washington DC, often playing art houses where "The Simpsons" is not an option.

Fox Searchlight's aggressive expansion of "Sunshine" director Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller about explorers attempting to re-energize the sun, generated slightly less than $1.3 million from 460 theaters; just enough for the 14th spot on iW BOT and the 13th ranking on the overall box office chart. But its $2,740 per-screen average is a steep 85% drop from its debut per-screen average of $24,296 from ten locations and prospects for an extended, wide release, once bright, suddenly look dim.

Sony Pictures Classics only fared a bit better with its French-language period drama "Moliere," gathering $32,601 for a blase per-screen average of $5,484, halting the stream of successful French-language roll outs this summer. "Moliere" won't likely match the cumulative box office of Picturehouse's Edith Piaf drama "La Vie en Rose," which took in $380,339 in weekend box office for a cumulative total of over $8.2 million.

Audience response remained strong in the third week for Focus Features' "Talk to Me," director Kasi Lemmons' 1960s-set drama about radio personality Ralph "Petey" Greene (Don Cheadle). "Talk to Me" expanded to 115 locations and earned $801,709. With a per-screen average of $6,971, "Talk To Me" dropped less than 30% from its previous weekend; enough for the sixth spot on the iW BOT. Focus expands "Talk to Me" wide on Friday.

Less stunning holdovers included Samuel Goldwyn Films' period drama "Goya's Ghosts," which has yet to crack the iW BOT Top Ten, earning only $112,083 from 43 locations for a disappointing $2,607 per-screen average.
After six weeks in theaters, Kino International's "Lady Chatterly" lost approximately 30% of its audience, earning $41,364 from 19 screens.

"Time," Korean director Kim Ki-duk's plastic surgery drama from Lifesize Entertainment, lost close to 50% of its audience during its third week at New York's Cinema Village. "Time" earned $1,897 for a cumulative box office of $14,743.

Experiencing a similar box office drop at six weeks was "Sicko," Michael Moore's healthcare documentary. At 850 locations, a dip of 40 theaters, "Sicko," financed by The Weinstein Company, with Lionsgate handling US distribution, grossed $1.18 million for a per-screen average of $1,381, only good enough for the 30th spot on the iW BOT. Still, "Sicko" has surpassed the $21.6 million box office of Moore's 2002 film "Bowling for Columbine."

In terms of new film programs, Minneapolis filmmaker Philip Nelson and his team of volunteers have good reason for being enthusiastic regarding their debut Independent Features Film Festival, held July 27 - 29 at New York's Tribeca Cinemas. Approximately 2300 people attended the first-time fest and helped the 14 filmmakers in attendance celebrate the public debuts of twenty-one films. Nelson said that goals for next year's event include corporate sponsorships and more titles. Until then, the films are available on-line and a small tour is planned for early September.

The idea of another film festival in New York; a city with more than its share of film events, may seem challenging but Nelson is convinced of the need for his Independent Features program. "We didn't set out to become a Tribeca or a Sundance," Nelson said, following the fest. "But there are lots of good films that don't make it into those festivals and we aim to provide a quality venue for these emerging filmmakers, both on-line and in a theater."

Looking to become the specialty comedy hit of the summer is THINK Films' "The Ten," director/co-writer David Wain's collection of hilariously lewd stories set to the Ten Commandments. "The Ten," purchased by THINK at Sundance for $4.5 million, opens Friday at 10 locations including top-performing art-houses like New York's Sunshine Cinema and the Sunset 5 in Los Angeles. THINK will expand "The Ten" throughout August.

"Becoming Jane," a revisionist romance based on Jane Austen's young adulthood, becomes Miramax Films' most extensive release of the summer opening at 100 locations Friday. Picturehouse is even more ambitious with "El Cantante," its biopic of salsa artist Hector Lavoe starring Marc Anthony and his wife Jennifer Lopez, opening the film on 541 screens. Closer in spirit to the traditional art-house release is German director Stefan Krohmer's family drama "Summer '04," which The Cinema Guild opens Wednesday exclusively 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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.

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