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by Indiewire
February 4, 2004 2:00 AM
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Oscar Noms Boost Box-Office Numbers for "Monster" and "Lost in Translation"; IFC Films is High on "T

Oscar Noms Boost Box-Office Numbers for "Monster" and "Lost in Translation"; IFC Films is High on "The Void"

by Brian Brooks

IFC Films' "Touching the Void" continued to scale the box office peak in its second weekend of release, maintaining its position as the number one specialty release as measured by per-screen average. TLA Releasing also became a player this week with its gay Mormon feature, "Latter Days," while the long arms of Oscar pulled in audiences for "Monster," "Lost in Translation," "Girl with a Pearl Earring," and "City of God."

Overall, the iW BOT tracked 40 films, grossing a whopping $10.1 million over the weekend on 3,080 screens. These numbers compare to the previous weekend's 38 titles taking in $7 million at 2,271 sites. The overall gross for the weekend that ended is the largest number seen for quite some time, with the gross from "Monster" representing one-third of that number, while weekend totals for "Girl with a Pearl Earring," and "Lost in Translation" represent more than an additional one-third of the overall gross.

IFC Films powered upward with Kevin Macdonald's mountain-climbing docudrama "Touching the Void," maintaining its presence on five screens, taking in $74,136 for a $14,827 per-screen average, down slightly from the previous weekend's stratospheric $19,395 average. Since release, the film has cumed $205,513.

TLA Releasing's "Latter Days" opened in New York and Los Angeles on four screens, taking in $57,242 for a per-screen tithing of $14,311 and a second placement on the iW BOT.

New Yorker Films' "My Architect" continues to hold its solid foundation on the chart, placing third over the weekend with a $68,085 gross and a $6,809 per-screen average ($7,298 average the previous week). The film has cumed $672,118 since its debut three months ago.

Newmarket Films' "Monster"-ous hit directed by Patty Jenkins pulled up the specialty box office, no doubt reaping benefit from Charlize Theron's Golden Globe win as well as the star's Academy Award best actress nomination. The numbers were augmented with the film's huge expansion to 668 screens from the previous weekend's 330. The big increase saw some decline in per screen-average over the weekend with a per site of $5,044 on an overall gross of almost $3.37 million, compared to the $6,219 average prior. The film has now cumed more than $10.45 million.

Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" also saw a post-Globe wins and Oscars nominations boost. The film played 632 screens compared to 357 one week before, taking in more than $2.15 million for a $3,412 per screen average, a big increase from the $2,033 average the previous weekend. Since opening 21 weeks ago, the film, which received best director and best picture noms has taken in a total of almost $37.44 million.

"The big increase in screens this week was generated by the beneficial results 'Lost In Translation' has already gained in the box office from winning the Golden Globe awards for best picture comedy and best actor in a comedy, as well as being nominated four times by the Academy of Motion Pictures for Best Picture, Actor, Director and Screenplay," commented Focus Features' head of distribution Jack Foley via email to indieWIRE. "These results enabled us to surge above the established increase in prints which we gained through the month of January and to take advantage of the increased box-office results driven by those awards and nominations. The film was on around 120 screens during the December holiday season. We always had a strategy to expand the film in January in order to set it up for presence in February, especially if the awards were favorable for the film."

Foley also indicated plans will go forward for the film's planned DVD release despite exhibitors who may not be thrilled with the idea. "The home video release of 'Lost In Translation' occurs this week. Exhibitors are very reluctant, at best, about playing a film in theaters simultaneously when it is available in the home video market. In fact, exhibition is not too happy with the precedent this 'Lost In Translation' strategy sets, which I get. However, at this point in time, the strategy has worked well at the box office for 'Lost in Translation' and exhibitors, as evidenced by the fact that the film is now playing in 633 theaters and will be on around 600 screen this weekend. This weekend will be very telling about the film's theatrical future. The strategy has be effective so far, hopefully it will continue."

Lions Gate also greatly expanded its feature, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," playing the film which received nominations for best art direction, costume design as well as cinematography in 391 venues compared to 72 prior, grossing more than $1.35 million for a per screen of $3,465 ($7,513 the previous weekend). The film has now cumed more than $4.17 million since its release two months ago. Lions Gate's "The Cooler," which garnered a best supporting actor nomination for Alec Baldwin decreased its showings from 408 to 306 over the weekend, taking in $587,013 for a $1,918 average. The film has cumed nearly $6 million since release two and a half months ago.

"The increase in 'Girl' screens was not a result of, but rather it was timed to, the Oscar noms," said Lions Gate chief Tom Ortenberg via email responding to iW questions on the film's larger roll out. "We were confident of 'Girl''s playability in art houses, and we knew were a contender in several categories for the Academy Awards, so we decided to use the week of the nominations as our springboard into commercial theatres."

Ortenberg said the strategy for "The Cooler" was not timed directly to the Oscars, however. "'The Cooler''s widest break was the weekend of January 16," he said. "'The Cooler' had been in limited release since November 26 and we didn't think we could hold our fire into wider release any longer. We timed our first expansion to the Globe nominations on December 19, and then our second and widest expansion to the SAG noms the week of January 16. With the additional bump of Alec Baldwin's well-deserved Academy nomination last week, that has added a nice boost to the release. 'The Cooler' now is poised to become the highest grossing film to come out of last year's Sundance Film Festival, much as we are confident that [Lions Gate's 2004 Sundance film] 'Open Water' will have the same distinction this year."

Miramax's "City of God" most certainly saw a little Oscar magic, as the Brazilian doc played 11 screens (compared to four previously) over the weekend after receiving nominations in various categories including best director. The film took in $40,990 for a per screen of $3,726 ($1,461 one week earlier). The film has now cumed over $4.86 million since it was released more than one year ago.

This weekend's openings include Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" from Fox Searchlight and Siddiq Barmak's "Osama" from United Artists.

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