By Indiewire | Indiewire July 14, 2008 at 12:41PM
The young art-house outfit Music Box Films experienced its first ranking atop the iWBOT with "Tell No One," director Guillaume Canet's thriller about a husband who learns his long-murdered wife may somehow be alive. "Tell No One" earned $248,674 in its sophomore weekend from 19 runs; outperforming nine specialty debuts. Premiering on the big screen 47 years after it was made, "The Exiles," the late filmmaker Kent Mackenzie's drama about young Native Americans living in downtown Los Angeles' Bunker Hill neighborhood, earned $8,448 from its exclusive debut at New York's IFC Center. "Days and Clouds," Italian director Silvio Soldini's marriage-in-crisis drama for Film Movement, was close behind with $16,707 in weekend earnings from two New York engagements. Rounding out the iWBOT top five, which ranks films by per-screen average, were "August," director Austin Chick's drama for First Look Studios, featuring Josh Hartnett as a dot-com entrepreneur in crisis and filmmaker Jonathan Levine's '90s nostalgia comedy for Sony Pictures Classics, "The Wackness."
The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available at indieWIRE.com.
Nine specialty films made midsummer debuts this weekend, generating success and disappointment equally. The summer season's biggest surprise belonged to Music Box Films' French-language thriller "Tell No One." Starring Francois Cluzet as a grieving husband who believes his long-ago murdered wife may still be alive, "Tell No One" shot to the top of the iWBOT in its second week with a $13,088 per-screen average from 19 engagements. Just the third release for Music Box Films, "Tell No One," has earned an impressive $549,840 in cumulative box office and has brought welcome attention to the fledgling, Chicago-based film outfit. "As for how "Tell No One" impacts Music Box Films, we obviously prefer hit films and this release should improve out profile with international sales agents and exhibitors," said Ed Arentz, managing director and co-founder, Music Box Films. "But the real challenge is enduring and building a sustainable business. To that end, "Tell No One" and in their own way "OSS 117" and "Tuya's Marriage" have been a great start." Arentz confirmed an aggressive platform schedule for the French thriller with 80 screens by July 25 and as much as 100 screens by August; by far the widest Music Box release yet.
"The Exiles," late director Kent Mackenzie's 1961 drama about one night in the hard-knock lives of Native Americans living in Los Angeles' Bunker Hill neighborhood, was the top debut on the iWBOT with earnings of $8,448 for Milestone Films from its exclusive, big- screen premiere at New York's IFC Center. "We started the company and keep on going for the purpose of introducing audiences to great films from a while panoply of filmmakers, countries, genres and times," said Amy Heller, president, Milestone Films. "If we are convinced that a film is a masterpiece, we trust others, critics, bloggers, cinephiles and filmgoers will be able to recognize its worth - if we do our part." Heller confirmed a mix of upcoming play dates between commercial art houses, film societies and museums including The Castro in San Francisco on August 1 and UCLA August 15. "Screen time is very tough to find but we are planning a leisurely roll out because some markets prefer to go in the fall when local universities are in session," Heller continued. "But we keep costs down by starting with a small number of prints and as the video distributors of the film, we have the luxury of setting our own timetable. I do want to stress that "The Exiles" is neither a reissue nor a revival. While it's great to see an art house classic for the fifth or sixth time on screen, it something altogether more thrilling to discover a never-before-seen film, whether it was filmed in 1958 or 2008."
Director Silvio Soldini's drama "Days and Clouds," about an Italian couple who separate after the husband loses his job, earned $16,707 for Film Movement from two New York runs; comparable to the outfit's previous foreign-language release "The Grocer's Son."
Director Austin Chick's sophomore drama "August," featuring Josh Hartnett as a dot-com executive whose company is in a financial tailspin, earned $8,092 for First Look Studios from an exclusive New York debut.
Expanding to 31 screens in its second week, "The Wackness," director Jonathan Levine's coming-of-age comedy for Sony Pictures Classics, collected $217,105 in weekend grosses as one of the top four specialty earners. But the '90s-set comedy, featuring former Nickelodeon star Josh Peck as a high school grad and Ben Kingsley as his psychiatrist, dropped 75% in per-screen average to $7,003. It cumulative earnings has reached $471,354.
Debuting in the iWBOT top ten were the ThinkFilm documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," director Marina Zenovich's look at the film director's public conviction in Los Angeles for unlawful sex with a minor and his flight from the United States. "Roman Polanski" earned $4,613 at New York's Quad Cinema. "The Stone Angel," director Kari Skogland's adaptation of Margaret Laurence's 1964 novel about an elderly woman reminiscing about her colorful life, earned $31,883 from seven engagements in New York, Minneapolis, LA and Washington DC. City Lights Pictures collected $10,300 from three runs of its family comedy "Harold," starring Spencer Breslin as a teen with premature baldness. Reaching the 11th spot on the iWBOT was "Full Battle Rattle," directors Jesse Moss and Tony Gerber's documentary about Army recruits training at a simulated Iraq village in California's Mojave Desert. "Full Battle" earned $3,216 in weekend ticket sales for Mile End Films from its exclusive debut at New York's Film Forum and $7,158 since its July 9 opening.
Despite the star presence of Catherine Zeta-Jones and indie vet Guy Pearce, director Gillian Armstrong's Houdini drama "Death Defying Acts" debuted outside the iWBOT top twenty with a meager $1,781 per- scr average for Third Rail Releasing from two exclusive debuts in New York and Los Angeles. Further behind was "Garden Party," director Jason Freeland's drama for Roadside Attractions about young adults chasing their drams in Los Angeles. "Garden Party," boasting an attractive cast, sexy situations and cool music, managed only $11,050 from seven debut runs in New York, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.
Picturehouse's "Mongol," Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov's epic drama about the boy, who becomes Mongol Empire founder Genghis Khan, continued to be the specialty earnings leader with $532,439 in weekend gross from 252 screens. "Mongol" surpassed $4.3 million in total box office, right behind the season's top performer, "The Visitor," filmmaker Tom McCarthy's acclaimed drama about a lonely professor befriending a Syrian street musician, which has earned $8.5 million after 14 weeks for Overture Films.
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.