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November 10, 2004 2:00 AM
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iW BOT Sides with "Sideways" for 3rd Week; "Brother to Brother" and "Bear Cub" Sashay to Hefty Debut

iW BOT Sides with "Sideways" for 3rd Week; "Brother to Brother" and "Bear Cub" Sashay to Hefty Debuts

by Brian Brooks

Alexander Payne's "Sideways" crushed the specialty box office once again, reaching the iW BOT pinnacle for a third straight week with the chart's highest per screen average. The cinema remained a refuge for gay films in the U.S., meanwhile, with blue state engagements for Wolfe Releasing's "Brother to Brother" and TLA Releasing's "Bear Cub." Regent Releasing belted out "Callas Forever," for a decent showing in limited engagements, while Paramount Classics' "Fade to Black" debuted with less luster, but still managing a top ten showing in the chart as ranked on a per screen basis. "Motorcycle Diaries" and "I ♥ Huckabees," continued to rack up big dollars, although the latter's per screen was weak. Those two titles along with "Sideways" again represented over half of the total specialty box office gross for the weekend.

Fox Searchlight added 50 sites for "Sideways," keeping the film atop the iW BOT again, with the movie earning nearly $1.05 million for a splendid $15,873 per screen average ($25,288 last week, a 37% decline). In three weeks, the Toronto 2004 fest film has cumed over $1.9 million.

Wolfe Releasing debuted its festival fav "Brother to Brother" by Rodney Evans at Cinema Village in New York taking the second position on the chart with a $9,245 weekend gross.

"Everyone at Wolfe is thrilled that the public has come out and really shown this film a lot of love," Maria Lynn, president of Wolfe Releasing told indieWIRE Monday. "We were confident that the film would have a wide appeal, and the sold-out screenings this weekend proved that to us." Lynn said the film "really played across demographics," attracting both the gay and black filmgoer as well as "people who just want to see a great drama with terrific performances." The film's across the board positive reviews also helped to draw crowds in New York, and Wolfe will continue to target the film's core audience and others.

"We are focusing on the key demographics, which are the gay and black communities, and also catching the wider audience through reviews and advertising in mainstream outlets like Entertainment Weekly, People, and featuring the trailer on Yahoo! and more."

Wolfe will roll the film out in L.A., San Francisco and Chicago in the near term, followed by other markets. Lynn commented that the feature's strong showing has peaked interest from exhibitors.

Luis Migues Albaladejo's "Bear Cub" also opened on one screen, clawing its way to the third spot on the chart with $8,002. indieWIRE attempted to reach TLA Releasing for comment yesterday to no avail.

In other debuts, "Callas Forever" staged a showing on five screens, grossing $37,855. The film averaged $7,571, placing fourth on the chart. Paramount Classics opened "Fade to Black" at 170 sites, taking in $449,331 ($2,643 average), holding the tenth rank on the iW BOT.

Paramount Classics added five engagements for "The Machinist," grossing $55,184 for a $4,245 average. Last week, the film placed third on the chart with a $6,381 average, a decline of 33% on 13 screens. In three weeks, the film has cumed $220,959.

Focus Features' "The Motorcycle Diaries" added 34 screens, taking in $948,895 on 268 screens for a $3,541 average ($4,236 last week, a 16% drop). In seven weeks, the feature has cumed nearly $10.7 million. "Diaries" along with "Sideways" and "I ♥ Huckabees" together represented 52% of the entire specialty box office for the weekend, taking in a combined $3.11 million on 919 screens. The overall specialty BOT was $5.98 million from 67 titles on 2,905 screens.

Last week's total was $6.08 million from 74 titles (a 2% decline) although the combined average jumped 22% to $2,062 ($1,605 previously) helped significantly by the strong averages of "Sideways" and "Motorcycle Diaries." Minus those two films and "Huckabees," the remaining 64 titles took in nearly $2.88 million on 1,986 screens for a less impressive $1,449 average. Industry-wide, 141 titles took in over $100,788,865 on 35,812 screens. Last year, Gus Van Sant's Cannes 2003 winner "Elephant" scored the iW BOT number one position with a $5,872 average on 31 screens. The chart recorded 57 films for the weekend ending Sunday, November 9, 2003 with a $3.6 million combined gross on 1,526 screens.

This week's openings include Mark Forster's "Finding Neverland," Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Bright Future," Bill Condon's "Kinsey," Claude Miller's "Le Petite Lili," Gilles Marchand's "Who Killed Bambi?," Bilge Ebiri's "New Guy," Tonya Montana and Mark Brian Smith's doc "Overnight," and Chazz Palminteri's "Noel."

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