France has seemingly continued its sizzling summer affair with audiences in the U.S. specialty market with IFC Films' "My Best Friend" opening strongly in limited release. Compatriot "Lady Chatterley," meanwhile, showed some regal strength following a small expansion in its one month mark out in theaters, while Stateside title "Talk to Me" opened solidly in nearly three dozen venues, placing second on the iW BOT as measured on a per screen basis. "Sicko" continued its spread to new screens, though its average dipped noticeably. Still, Michael Moore's health care documentary is on track to overtake his earlier effort "Bowling for Columbine" in the numbers game.
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available here at indieWIRE.com
As far as new specialty releases, the stand-out was IFC Films' "My Best Friend," Patrice Leconte's warm and witty comedy about an art dealer (Daniel Auteuil) who makes a bet that in ten days he can gain a best friend. "My Best Friend" earned $45,246 from three theaters, including New York's Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center, with a stellar per-screen average of $15,082.
IFC expands "My Best Friend" to Los Angeles Friday and all top ten markets by July 27, looking to supplant Picturehouse Films' French-language Edith Piaf drama "La Vie En Rose" as the summer's top foreign-language performer. "My Best Friend" has a long climb ahead as "La Vie En Rose" has earned nearly $6.9 million in cumulative box office and a $3,123 average on 174 screens in its sixth week out, placing 10th on the chart.
Audience response was similarly strong for Focus Features' "Talk to Me," director Kasi Lemmons' 1960s set drama about Ralph "Petey" Greene (Don Cheadle), an ex-con who becomes a popular Washington D.C. radio personality. "Talk to Me" opened in 33 locations, a mix of commercial multiplexes and conventional art houses. Boosted by glowing reviews and strong publicity, "Talk to Me" earned $402,000 for an impressive per-screen average of $12,182. Focus expands "Talk to Me" Friday to various cities including St. Louis and Cleveland.
Opening less spectacularly was Steve Buscemi "Interview" resulted in $41,016 in weekend gross for Sony Pictures Classics for a per-screen average of $6,836. In "Interview," Buscemi's adaptation of deceased filmmaker Theo van Gogh's drama, a political journalist (Buscemi) is forced to interview a pop star (Sienna Miller). Sony Classics expands "Interview" Friday to San Francisco and Boston.
A minor box office surprise took place down South with Indican Pictures' poetry slam drama "Fighting Words," which earned $6,780 from a single venue in Cary, North Carolina, though appearances by director Paul Edwards and Robert Zaytoun, a local attorney who helped produce the film, helped attract crowds.
"Sicko," Moore's sassy healthcare documentary, moved closer to equaling the $21.6 million box office of his 2002 film "Bowling for Columbine" with weekend earnings just over $2.6 million on 756 locations, a gain of 54 venues ($15.83 million cume). "Sicko" averaged $3,445, a 33% drop from the previous week's $5,128 average on 702 screens and placed eighth on the iW BOT in its fourth week in release. The film remains the smallest release of the top ten box office performers when including all summer titles, wedged between blockbuster comedies "Knocked Up" and "Ocean's Thirteen."
Werner Herzog's Vietnam War drama "Rescue Dawn" expanded by 32 locations and earned $363,093 from 38 theaters. The MGM release reached a cumulative take of $591,998 and expands wider on July 27.
John Dahl's hit-man comedy "You Kill Me" from IFC added 184 venues (247 total) and a 139% gross increase last weekend to $589,368. Overall the film's per site average dropped 39% from $3,913 to $2,386 with the added venues. The film's four-week cume is just over $1.5 million.
Korean-language drama "Time," from Lifesize Entertainment, meanwhile, earned $4,631 from its exclusive showing at New York's Cinema Village, ranking 20th on the iW BOT
Placing seventh in its fourth week out was Kino International's French-language "Lady Chatterly," taking in $72,660 from 16 locations for a cumulative box office of $192,097. The film averaged $4,541, only eight percent lower then last week's $4,952 average despite adding eight screens from four to 16.
More modest performers were "Drama/Mex," from IFC First Take about a group of characters intersecting over a hot day in Acapulco. "Drama/Mex," by director Gerardo Naranjo, earned $2,800 from its exclusive showing at New York's IFC Center.
Warner Independent Pictures' family comedy "Introducing the Dwights" earned $94,423 in weekend box office from 35 locations for a per-screen of $2,698 (a 60 percent decrease from the previous weekend) and a cumulative of $148,293. "Dwights" expands to 80 locations Friday.
Adding to the second-half summer calendar are Magnolia Pictures' "Cashback," about an insomniac supermarket clerk, and Fox Searchlight's sci-fi adventure "Sunshine," from director Danny Boyle. "Cashback" opens in limited markets including Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle before its July 24 DVD release. "Sunshine," about a team of explorers attempting to re-energize the sun, debuts at ten locations including New York's Sunshine Cinema before opening wide on July 27. Samuel Goldwyn Films' period drama "Goya's Ghosts," featuring Stellan Skarsgard as the acclaimed Spanish painter, opens in select venues including Boston's Kendall Square and New York's Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
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.