By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 18, 2008 at 9:34AM
Despite record-breaking audiences for swimmer Michael Phelps's bid for record-breaking Olympic gold medals, the semi-wide release of Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" managed to crack the overall top ten, grossing $3,755,575 in 692 theatres. Though its $5,427 average wasn't enough to claim the top spot on the iW BOT, which is ranked by per-theater averages. Claude Chabrol's "A Girl Cut In Two," playing on a rather incomparable two screens, topped it with a $9,329 average. Both films can take pleasure in the fact that they aren't Mark Pellington's "Henry Poole Is Here," which debuted on 527 screens to the sad tune of just $805,219 or about $1,528 per screen.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available on indieWIRE.
Ample Allen, Poor "Poole"
As August winds down and the ultra competitive Fall speciality season draws near, Indiewood is getting really aggressive. Two releases saw ambitious debuts this weekend, with Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" gracing 692 theatres (Allen's highest screen count since "Anything Else" five years ago) and Mark Pellington's "Henry Poole Is Here" finding 527. The results were in complete contrast. Overture Films bought "Poole" for a reported $3.5 million at this year's Sundance Film Festival, a number they are unlikely to even come close to during its theatrical run. Grossing $800,000, the Luke Wilson-starrer averaged just $1,528. "Barcelona," on the other hand, got off to a great start.
"Michael Phelps took the gold but we took the silver," said Harvey Weinstein in a statement yesterday regarding "Barcelona"'s weekend estimates. "This weekend exceeded our expectations and the film is in a position to do terrific business. The great reviews we received across the country calling it a 'funny, sexy, beautiful, end of summer film' helped us." Steve Bunnell, Chairman Domestic Distribution for The Weinstein Company (TWC distributed the film through MGM), agreed in an interview with indieWIRE. "It's not 'Match Point,' which was quite dark, or 'Cassandra's Dream,' which we released earlier this year," he said. "'Vicky' is much funnier and lighter and we think we're capitalizing on that."
Economically, "Vicky" is certainly no "Cassandra's." It outgrossed that film's entire run sometime Friday night. But its not quite "Match Point" either. That film averaged a whopping $49,824 on a much more modest 8 screens back in December, 2005. It went on to gross over $23 million, Woody's highest number since 1986's "Hannah and Her Sisters." Although a more fair comparison comes with Allen's other summer-and-Scarlett outing, "Scoop," which debuted on a similar amount of screens (538) during a similar time of the year (late July). "Vicky" topped "Scoop"'s overall opening gross by over $500,000, but fell slightly behind its per-theatre-average despite considerably more positive reviews.
One must consider Mr. Phelps though. "Vicky" should easily end up surpassing "Scoop"'s $10.5 million final gross once the Olympics fade. One indication is the film's impressive 38% increase from Friday to Saturday, the highest in the overall top ten. "We think we're really positioned to run for a while here," said Bunnell. "We feel like we opened pretty wide. The key for us is to see what the drop off is this weekend and then make plans accordingly. We would expect to increase markets and runs on Labor Day weekend."
Labor Day was recently going to be "Vicky"'s start date, but the Weinstein Company reconsidered. "The movie was just playing so well," explained Bunnell. "Everyone we showed to thought it was great. We originally had a more cautious or limited release on Labor Day weekend and have it be more of a September film. But the more we started showing it, the more we felt it was more apporpriate for a wider release in late summer." So far, it seems like it was a smart move.
Number One "Girl"
"Vicky"'s high screen count helped keep it from topping the iW BOT. That honor went to Claude Chabrol's "A Girl Cut In Two," which averaged $9,329 on 2 screens for IFC. "Girl" becomes the first IFC release to top the chart since May's "Savage Grace," which averaged $11,156 on 2 screens. "We are happy with the opening weekend numbers for 'A Girl Cut in Two' in a pretty crowded marketplace," Mark Boxer, Vice President of Sales and Distribution for IFC, told indieWIRE in an interview. "We feel confident there is still a great appetite for French language films."
Boxer's confidence is most likely attributed to Guillaume Canet's "Tell No One," which is still showing great numbers in its seventh weekend, grossing $275,387 and bringing its cume to over $3.3 million. With recent hits like "Persepolis and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and December hopefuls "A Christmas Tale" (also from IFC) and "The Class" (from Sony Pictures Classics) on the way, France's mini U.S. invasion could grow increasingly impressive.
Whether "Girl" grows the same will be clear in the next few weeks, as IFC begins a slow rollout leading into mid-September, when the film will be in the top fifteen markets. Next weekend it will hold steady at its two New York debut runs (Lincoln Center Cinemas and the IFC Center), as another anticipated late-summer film aims to take its iW BOT crown. Focus Features will begin unspooling Andrew Fleming's "Hamlet 2," which it acquired for more than $10 million at Sundance, on 90 screens.
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.