By Indiewire | Indiewire September 5, 2007 at 3:33AM
Weekend earnings of $29,172 shot the multi-story fantasy "The Nines" to the front of the iWBOT, as well as the top, per-screen debut for Newmarket Films since their 2005 release "Downfall." On-site appearances by the film's director and star helped draw enthusiastic crowds at New York's Cinema Village for the Indian coming-of-age drama "Vanaja." Performing swimmingly in its second week was IFC Films' nautical documentary "Deep Water," which earned $27,356 from three locations. "The Nines," "Vanaja" and "Deep Water" out-ranked THINK Film's drug rehab drama "Self-Medicated," which earned $60,168 from 16 venues. Hong Kong gangster drama "Exiled" and holdover "2 Days in Paris" rounded out the iWBOT Top Five with "Self-Medicated" failing to join the top tier.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.
"The Nines," screenwriter-turned-filmmaker John August's fantasy starring Ryan Reynolds as three similar characters in multiple stories, earned $29,172 from the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles and the Sunshine Cinema in New York. With a per-screen average of $14,586, "The Nines" topped the iWBOT and was Newmarket Films' best, per-screen debut since the 2005 Adolph Hitler drama "Downfall." "We always thought the film would do well," said Richard Abramowitz, distribution and marketing head for Newmarket Films. "We had a strong internet presence targeted towards an audience that would be receptive to the film's alternative reality and gaming concept. The reviews were good and our ad campaign was strong. John August is a well-known screenwriter that people follow." On-site appearances by August in LA and Reynolds in New York helped boost crowds, which Abramowitz described as a diverse mix of young gamers and veteran art-house aficionados. "We had a strong presence in print media, although nobody would argue that 'New York Times' and 'Los Angeles Times' readers are young anymore, alas," Abramowitz said. "We also had promotions with Classic Rock stations. We recognized early that young audiences as well as more sophisticated audiences, the typical art house crowd, would respond to "The Nines" and the box office bore out this fact." "The Nines " holds at New York's Sunshine Cinemas and deepens its run in the Los Angeles area Friday to four locations.
Close behind "The Nines" was Emerging Pictures' Indian coming-of-age drama "Vanaja," which earned $10,771 in its debut weekend at New York's Cinema Village. "Vanaja" director Rajnesh Domalpalli and star Mamatha Bhukya answered questions from crowds at almost every show, proving that grassroots support can make a difference in an exclusive debut. "Vanaja" holds at the Cinema Village before expanding to Chicago and Los Angeles Sept. 14.
Magnolia Pictures' Hong Kong crime drama "Exiled," earned $20,351 at New York's Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center, good enough for the number three spot on the iWBOT. The opening box office on director Johnnie To's operatic gangster thriller was nearly identical to his previous release, "Triad Election." Magnolia expands "Exiled" to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago Friday, hoping to quickly best the paltry $55,000 domestic gross of "Triad Election."
"Deep Water," co-directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell's account of amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst's attempt to win a 1969 around-the-world boat race, was the top-ranking documentary with a sophomore week, per-screen average of $9,119, a slight 15% drop from its debut week. Another strong holdover was French actress-turned-filmmaker Julie Delpy's relationship comedy "2 Days in Paris," which bumped up screens to 112 and per-screen average to $7,089. "2 Days in Paris" has surpassed another Paris-set comedy, IFC Film's "My Best Friend," and inched closer to the $2 million mark in cumulative box office.
The top self-distributed release was the youth drama "Quiet City," which reached the seventh spot on the iWBOT, which ranks films by per-screen average. Part of the IFC Center's successful "The New Talkies: Generation DIY" series, "Quiet City" nearly matched its much-talked-about partner film 'Hannah Takes the Stairs" with a cumulative take of $9,638 in six days of release. "Quiet City" opens in Seattle Sept. 7 and Portland, Oregon Sept. 14, far away from the film's homegrown, New York following. "We know that it will be tough to match the success we found this weekend, but we are committed to doing all we can to make audiences aware that the movie is out and available to them," said "Quiet City" producer Chad Hartigan. "Director Aaron Katz will be flying to each of the three cities we already booked and doing Q&A's after the shows and hopefully the positive reviews and write-ups will follow him as well." "Quiet City" nearly doubled the box office totals of the iWBOT's other self-released feature, "A Man Named Pearl," which averaged $3,213 from play dates in Indianapolis, Knoxville and Charlotte.
Close behind "Quiet City" was Lionsgate's Latino caper film "Ladron Que Roba A Ladron" (A Thief Who Robs a Thief) which averaged $6,000 on 340 locations. City Lights Pictures' Brazilian documentary "Manda Bala" earned $18,751 from three locations in its third weekend of release. Rounding out the iWBOT Top Ten was Picturehouse's video game documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," which continues to distance itself from the Warner Independent's heavily promoted environmental doc "The 11th Hour." In its third week, "King of Kong" reached the ninth spot on the iWBOT with a per-screen average of $5,866, nearly a 10% jump from last week. Further proof of its word-of-mouth buzz occurred at the IFC Center, where "Kong" increased box office by 27%. The Weinstein Company comedy "Dedication" rounded out the iWBOT Top Ten.
With the fall season officially underway, new specialty releases include THINK Film's "In the Shadow of the Moon," a documentary about the Apollo Astronauts and "The Bubble," director Eytan Fox's latest drama, from Strand Releasing.
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.