By Indiewire | Indiewire November 18, 2003 at 2:0AM
"My Architect" Soars in Opening Weekend; "Elephant" and "Shattered Glass" Solid
by Brian Brooks
New Yorker Films' "My Architect" towered over the iW: BOT in its debut weekend, easily beating out the competition in the specialty box office. Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" continued well with a small expansion, while "Shattered Glass" remained strong after nearly doubling its screens. And, passing a dollar milestone while remaining a box office locomotive, "The Station Agent" again expanded its number of screens.
Nathaniel Kahn's directorial debut, a look at his late father the famous architect Louis Kahn, drew large crowds at two screens over the weekend, capturing the pinnacle of the box office, as measured by per screen average. The New Yorker Films release took in $37,929 for a stellar $18,965 average and a cume of $50,504, since opening last Wednesday.
"I'm not shocked, we were all confident that the film would do well," said New Yorker Films' head of distribution Rebeca Conget in a telephone conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. "We estimated the first week would do $40,000 and it did $13,000 more." The film was easily the biggest grossing film at New York's Film Forum. Conget credited the film's success with the way the story is told and because of its wide appeal. "It's a narrative documentary that tells a story, so it feels like a fiction film, not that narratives are better, but it has a little of everything for everyone," she commented. Going further, Conget said that the film appeals not only to architects and artists, but that the human story of a son who didn't know his father appeals to moviegoers on a personal level. "Anyone who has a father would like this film," said Conget, who first saw the film earlier this year at New Directors/New Films series at MoMA.
Conget said that emails have been arriving for months from Kahn enthusiasts eager to see the film, and she believes that many of them were among the people attending the movie over the weekend. Nevertheless, she expects word of mouth will take the film beyond those familiar with the architect. "Hopefully word of mouth will carry to a general audience, which we think will be the case since the film has won a lot of audience awards, [including festivals in] Chicago, Philadelphia, the Hamptons and High Falls." For now, the film will remain exclusive to New York and Philadelphia with perhaps some screens being added in surrounding areas like Long Island. New Yorker plans to roll out the film in the major markets early next year.
This week, the iW: BOT tracks 62 films, up from 57 last week. The total gross for the specialty films was $3.28 million on 1,462 screens. This is compared to last week's $3.6 million gross on a total of 1,526 screens.
"Elephant" has remained in the herd of top grossing films since its release one month ago. The HBO Films/Fine Line release added seven screens, grossing $157,150 at 38 sites for a solid average of $4,136 and a cume of $666,521. In New York, the film remained the top earner at the Angelika Film Center downtown.
Lion's Gate Films' "Shattered Glass" by Billy Ray took third place on the iW: BOT after adding 31 more screens for a total of 66. The film took in $242,632 for a per screen average of $3,676 in its third weekend out. So far, the film has cumed $576,625.
Spit & Glue's "Martin & Orloff" continued its second weekend on one screen, grossing $3,459. The film had had a big opening last weekend, but the grosses were not available in time for publishing of this article last week. "Martin & Orloff" has totaled $13,409.
THINKFilm's added 21 more venues for the eighth weekend of "The Gospel of John," taking in $367,838 ($3,255 average) and a total that is just about to pass $2 million. New Yorker Films' "To Be and to Have" remained solid in its second month of release, screening at seven theaters with a $22,101 gross ($3,157 average) and a total of $298,791.
"The Station Agent" remains a specialty release success. Miramax added 21 screens taking in $354,000 for a $3,078 average at 115 sites. "The Station Agent" also passed a box office milestone with a cume of more than $2 million. Miramax's "The Human Stain" also passed a threshold with a new cume of $3 million. Last weekend, the film screened at 213 venues taking in $562,000 for an average of $2,638.
Also passing a notable mark was "Sylvia," which has topped $1 million, grossing $106,212 on 79 screens. The film's average, though, was just $1,134.
Sure to pass $6 million in the coming week is HBO/Fine Line's "American Splendor." Over the weekend, the film screened at 40 sites, grossing $39,250 ($981 average). And, Palm Pictures' "The Cremaster Cycle" topped a half million dollars. The art film by artists Matthew Barney took in $1,742 on two screens in its 28th weekend of release, with an average of $871 per screen.
Later this week, Alejandro González Iñárritu's "21 Grams" from Focus opens in theaters along with Denys Arcand's "The Barbarian Invasions" from Miramax and Anna Chi's "Blindness."