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July 14, 2004 2:00 AM
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"Metallica" Rocks the Specialty BOT Scoring One More for Docs

"Metallica" Rocks the Specialty BOT Scoring One More for Docs

by Brian Brooks

A documentary title has captured the apex of the specialty box office for the sixth time since Memorial Day weekend, with the theatrical roll out of IFC Films' "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." The trend continues the recent doc craze, which has been a bright spot on the summer indie roster, with the genre taking five of the top ten slots on the iW: BOT, ranked by per screen average, this week. Last week's number one meanwhile, "Before Sunset," maintained its luster in second place after a weekend expansion, while Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" continued to extend its theatrical reach, but shed some per screen numbers. Sony Classics' "Riding Giants" opened with a moderate b.o. swell, while Fox Searchlight's "Napoleon Dynamite" approached a milestone.

The overall specialty box office total declined by nearly $11 million or 43% to $14.46 million, reflecting a similar weekend drop in gross for mega-doc "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is being released in cooperation with the Fellowship Adventure Group, Lions Gate Films and IFC Films. Fifty-five titles appear on the Friday to Sunday iW BOT ending on 7/11, a decline of four, while the number of screens jumped by 442 to 3,267. Factoring out "Fahrenheit," the indie gross calculates to about $3.43 million of which Fox Searchlight's debut of "The Clearing" on 261 screens accounts for $1.16 million of that total. The remaining 53 films in this weekend's chart grossed about $2.27 million of the indie cume. Overall, the indie per screen average stood at $4,426 for the weekend, down 50% from the previous week, while the overall industry average came in at about $4,000, a 35% decline.

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky scored the premier position on the specialty box office with their documentary "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," which IFC Films released on three screens this weekend in New York and San Francisco. The film, which is an unusually probing and personal look at one of the world's most successful bands, grossed $46,359 for an adrenaline-filled $15,453 per screen average.

"It was a great weekend, especially with the [nice] weather in New York," IFC Films' VP of sales and distribution Greg Forston told indieWIRE yesterday. "We know how the weather can effect a movie." The New York region enjoyed sunny and warm weather without the typical humidity or threat of showers over the weekend, which is typical for this time of year, encouraging residents to head outdoors. Forston indicated that the film sold out five screenings at the Landmark Sunshine theater in downtown Manhattan on Friday, as well as four showings on Saturday and more on Sunday. "Who knows what the gross would've been had there been more seats [available]," said Forston. Exit polls conducted on both coasts indicated a "somewhat wide demographic" attending the film, according to Forston. Non-Metallica fans made up 25-30% of the audience, with a large percentage describing themselves as "casual Metallica fans," while a smaller "hardcore" group made up the rest.

"It's not a concert film, it's a film about relationships," said Forston. "We want people to become believers that you don't have to like the band or rock music to like this film." This Friday, the doc will open in Los Angeles, and will expand into the San Francisco suburbs, then going into the surrounding New York City region on July 23rd. IFC Films will take the film into the top 30 markets in "one fell swoop on July 30th," according to Forston. Members of Metallica gave interviews to promote the film during their concert tour in the U.S. during the spring, and will be back in the country to resume their shows and to continue promoting the film in August, Forston told iW.

Warner Independent Pictures added 43 screens to the company's first release, "Before Sunset," taking the second position on the chart with a gross of $484,967 on 63 screens. Directed by Richard Linklater, the film averaged $7,698 in its second weekend in theaters, down about 50% from its debut of $15,560 over 4th of July weekend. The total cume for the film is $855,392.

Zeitgeist Films' "The Corporation" continues to be a box office stalwart in its sixth weekend on screens. The doc added three engagements taking in $65,623 from 11 sites for a per screen tally of $5,966, down from the holiday weekend's $6,817 or about 12%, and has totaled $435,986.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" expanded to 2,004 screens from 1,725 previously, adding another $11.03 million to its three week total, while the doc's per screen average dropped by more than half to $5,504. Still, the film earned the lion's share of the specialty b.o., and has cumed a record-shattering $80.121 million in three weeks.

Stacy Peralta's surf doc "Riding Giants" debuted at 26 locations, taking in $134,400. The film averaged $5,169 and placed fifth on the chart.

Fox Searchlight's "Napoleon Dynamite" played on 141 screens, grossing $554,769 with a $3,935 average. Last week, "Napoleon" averaged $5,595, a decline of about 30%. In one month, the film has cumed just shy of $3 million.

Focus Features will open Todd Williams' "The Door in the Floor" in select cities today, while Sony Classics presents Ian Iqbal Rashid's "Touch of Pink" debuts Friday. Sony Classics will open "Zho Yu's Train" as well on Friday, while HBO Films & Fine Line will roll out Joshua Marston's "Maria Full of Grace" in select cities and Dream2Reality Films & Mauj Entertainment present Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK's "Flavors" in a number of cities this weekend.

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